U.S. men end 4x100m relay drought with first title in 12 years

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The U.S. men are global 4x100m champions for the first time in 12 years, coinciding with the program’s return to the top in sprinting after Usain Bolt‘s retirement.

Christian ColemanJustin GatlinMike Rodgers and Noah Lyles authored an American record 37.10 seconds — third-fastest time in history — to win the world title in Doha on Saturday night.

The U.S. men had botched handoffs, been disqualified or were flat out beaten by Jamaica or Great Britain at the last three Olympics and five world championships.

In Friday’s preliminary heat, they were third and nearly disqualified for a handoff between Rodgers and Cravon Gillespie on the edge of the zone.

But this final group, led off by the world 100m champion, anchored by the world 200m champion and filled with two veterans, left no doubt. The beat European record-breaking Great Britain by .26 of a second and Japan by .33. Jamaica, in its first worlds without Bolt, did not qualify for the final.

Gatlin, a 37-year-old likely in his last world championships, earned relay gold for the first time in nine attempts between the Olympics and worlds.

“This gold means so much to me, probably a lot more than a lot of the medals I’ve won individually,” he said.

The U.S. women took bronze behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Jamaica and a silver-medal British team anchored by Dina Asher-Smith. The Americans’ finish is indicative of their standing in the flat sprints with no individual Olympic gold-medal contenders.

The U.S. quartet Saturday — Dezerea Bryant, Teahna Daniels, Morolake Akinosun and Kiara Parker — included zero women who have earned an individual Olympic or world championships medal.

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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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