Brianna McNeal, Olympic 100m hurdles champion, false starts out of world champs

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Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna McNeal flew 7,000 miles and waited until the ninth day of the world championships to compete. Her world championships were over without ever clearing a hurdle.

McNeal false started out of the first round of the 100m hurdles on Saturday. She twitched in her starting block and was given a reaction time of .036 seconds before the gun. Any reaction time within one tenth of a second after the gun or quicker is deemed a false start.

“Well of course I am very heartbroken by this mistake that I made,” McNeal said, according to USA Track and Field. “After not having the best season my only goal was to come out here and redeem myself. My focus and training was wired around this very moment but unfortunately I lost focus for just a milli second and it cost me an opportunity to be a World Champion again, but I am not defeated. This year and this very moment has taught me some valuable lessons. What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger and I am grateful for that. My faith will always prevail.”

McNeal at first disputed the red card shown to her. She looked at a monitor with officials to the side of the track and accepted her fate. After the heat went on without her, McNeal could be seen crouched on her knees just off the track, her head in her hands on the floor.

McNeal was also disqualified for a false start at a Diamond League meet in Oslo on June 13.

The rest of the favorites advanced to Sunday’s semifinals, including world-record holder Keni Harrison and Jamaican Danielle Williams, who is fastest in the world this year.

McNeal, who ranks 10th in the world this year, missed the 2017 World Championships while serving a ban for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

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World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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