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Galen Rupp to race while supporting Alberto Salazar; Chicago Marathon TV, live stream schedule

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Galen Rupp is supporting Alberto Salazar after his career-long coach was banned four years in a long-running U.S. Anti-Doping Agency case.

Rupp, who races the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, spoke out Friday for the first time since Salazar’s ban was handed down last week. The race airs live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streams on NBC Sports Gold for subscribers at 8 a.m. ET.

“I have personally seen [Salazar] take great care to comply with the [World Anti-Doping Agency] Code and prevent any violations of any anti-doping rules,” Rupp said in a statement. “I understand he is appealing the decision and wish him success. From my experience, he has always done his best for his athletes and the sport. Now, I am focused on the Chicago Marathon where I will be competing for the first time without my coach and friend.”

Rupp declined comment on the specifics of Salazar’s ban for violations including possessing and trafficking testosterone while training top runners at the Nike Oregon Project.

He said he hasn’t spoken with Salazar in a professional capacity since the ban. He declined to answer when asked by LetsRun.com if he had any other contact with Salazar in that span.

“I’m focused on the race on Sunday,” Rupp said. “I’m going to deal with the coaching thing after that.”

The Oregon Project is being shut down by Nike. It was founded in 2001, around the time Salazar began converting Rupp from a high school freshman soccer player to become the U.S.’ top distance runner, a two-time Olympic medalist and 2017 Chicago Marathon champion.

“That’s Nike’s call [on shutting down NOP],” said Rupp, who wore Nike clothing at a press conference, but not the usual Oregon Project gear he’s accustomed to donning. “Obviously, I respect their decision. But that’s something that’s out of my hands.

“I will reiterate that no Oregon Project athlete has ever tested positive. They’ve never been found to use a banned substance, a banned method.”

As for the marathon itself, Rupp is a bit of an unknown.

His last race of any kind was in Chicago last year, when he dropped from the leaders around mile 19 and finished fifth. An Achilles injury flared up near the end of the 26.2 miles, and he underwent surgery later that month for two tears.

“I really haven’t been able to have the normal buildup,” he said, noting “small bumps in the road” prevented him from running a tune-up race like a half marathon. “I feel really good where I’m at now.”

Rupp remains the favorite for the Olympic trials on Feb. 29 because the U.S. lacks men who can consistently break 2:10. Rupp has done that in all four of his finished marathons in this Olympic cycle.

Rupp’s primary competition in Chicago will be Brit Mo Farah, his longtime training partner who left Salazar and the Oregon Project in 2017, citing a desire to move back home. Farah is the defending champion.

The women’s race features another Salazar-trained Oregon Project runner, Jordan Hasay. Hasay, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner in history, said she has had no contact of any kind with Salazar since the ban.

“He’s very, very close to me, and usually the last few weeks before the marathon are really fun because he starts getting anxious and starts calling three times a day about, oh, make sure you bring your gray socks instead of white socks and this and that. Little stuff,” Hasay told media in Chicago. “I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m pretty much able to coach myself. … But just in the sense of having that mentorship there and that friendship, those last moments of advice and excitement before the race, that’s definitely been tough. I miss that.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Bryan brothers to retire at 2020 U.S. Open, don’t plan on Olympics

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Bob and Mike Bryan said they will retire after the 2020 U.S. Open, ending a tennis career that’s included a men’s record 16 Grand Slam doubles titles together.

They also don’t plan to play at the Tokyo Olympics, their manager later said in an email.

The twins are 41 years old, having spent more than half their lives as professionals.

“A part of us, feels like, is dying,” Bob Bryan said on Tennis Channel. “But we’re really clear about this decision. It’s going to be great to have a finish line.”

Mike said that in 2020 they will play all the events they “really love,” including all four Grand Slams and American tournaments. The Olympics weren’t mentioned.

Rather, they will see how they’re feeling midway through the year, they said on the Tennis.com podcast.

The Bryans earned doubles gold at the 2012 London Games but withdrew from the Rio Olympics six days before the Opening Ceremony. They cited making their family’s health a “top priority” and later said Zika virus concerns were “a very small part of” the decision.

The Bryans own 118 titles overall but nearly ended their partnership after Bob underwent hip surgery a year ago. He rejoined Mike this season, reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals and winning two ATP doubles titles.

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A century later, Naomi Osaka, Kei Nishikori can bring Japan Olympic tennis to forefront

Naomi Osaka, Kei Nishikori
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When Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori take the courts at the Tokyo Olympics, perhaps together, they will be doing so 100 years after tennis players won Japan’s first Olympic medals in any sport.

Tennis is not usually one of the handful of marquee competitions at the Games, in part because it is one of the sports whose biggest event is not the Games themselves.

“We have been playing for these Grand Slams, and I think that’s why we train for,” Nishikori said at the U.S. Open in August, when asked to compare the meaning of winning one of tennis’ four annual majors to earning a medal at a home Olympics. “That’s going to be the biggest goal to winning Grand Slams.”

Yet the term “Grand Slam” had not been conceived — for golf or tennis — at the time of the 1920 Antwerp Games. There, Ichiya Kumagae earned silvers in singles and doubles with Seiichiro Kashio to become the first Japanese Olympic medalists.

Kumagae was Japan’s first notable international tennis player, reaching the 1918 U.S. Open semifinals (then called the U.S. National Championships) and beating Bill Tilden in the final of the 1919 Great Lakes Championships.

Kumagae, born in 1890, had not seen a tennis racket or ball until his 20s, according to Roger W. Ohnsorg‘s “The First Forty Years of American Tennis.”

“He came here to America in 1916, the possessor of a wonderful forehand drive and nothing else,” Tilden wrote in “The Art of Lawn Tennis.” Kumagae was listed by Ohnsorg as 5 feet, 3 inches, 134 pounds and requiring glasses at all times. Later in 1922, Kumagae’s engagement to the daughter of a wealthy politician was published as a news brief in The New York Times.

Nearly a century later, Nishikori and Osaka brought more Japanese tennis breakthroughs. Nishikori became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam singles final at the 2014 U.S. Open. Last year, Osaka became the first Japanese singles player to win a Grand Slam, also at the U.S. Open.

This past June, Japan’s annual Central Research sports survey (1,227 people, age 20+) put Nishikori and Osaka as its respondents’ fourth- and sixth-favorite athletes, past or present. Baseball players Ichiro (retired), Shohei Ohtani and Shigeo Nagashima (long retired) and figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu rounded out the top five.

Osaka’s U.S. Open title was voted the top sports moment of Emperor Akihito’s reign from 1989 to April 30, beating Ichiro’s retirement and Hanyu’s repeat Olympic crown in PyeongChang. Perhaps there was some recency bias.

Akatsuki Uchida, a tennis journalist from Japan, said that Nishikori’s U.S. Open final was a bigger moment for Japanese tennis than Osaka’s win over Serena Williams, though.

“Tennis at that time [in 2014] was not broadcast in Japan,” she said at the U.S. Open. “Media coverage of tennis was decreasing before Kei made that final. For most of Japanese, not tennis fans, but ordinary people, it came from out of nowhere. … He became like an overnight sensation. Since then, the situation of tennis in Japan changed dramatically.

“If [Osaka] wins the title before Kei won the title here, it could have been way bigger, but since Kei made the final before Naomi, it made Naomi’s achievement, still a big deal, less surprising.”

Another key difference: Nishikori spent the majority of his childhood in Japan, while Osaka’s family, with a Haitian father and Japanese mother, moved to the U.S. when she was 3 years old.

Osaka has dual citizenship, but Japanese law requires one to be chosen over the other by the 22nd birthday. Osaka turned 22 last month, before which she confirmed what most had assumed, that she picked Japan.

Uchida was unsure whether Osaka and Nishikori could propel tennis at the Tokyo Games into a greater spotlight among 33 total sports.

“But if Kei and Naomi played mixed doubles, that would be a big thing,” she said.

Nishikori has already reportedly said he plans to enter singles and doubles in Tokyo, the latter with Ben McLachlan, Japan’s top doubles player. McLachlan was born in New Zealand and in 2017 switched representation to Japan, his mother’s birth nation.

But Nishikori did not rule out adding mixed doubles.

“Very hot, very humid, playing singles and two doubles, I don’t know if I can,” he said before the U.S. Open. “I haven’t think too much yet, honestly. I don’t know. I will talk to Naomi later.”

Nishikori smiled as he brought up Osaka’s name at the end of his answer to a question that didn’t mention her. Later in the tournament, Osaka was told Nishikori’s thoughts.

“I would definitely play with him,” said Osaka, who in 2016 was the highest-ranked eligible player not to make the Rio Olympic field. “I just — I would actually need to practice doubles for the first time in my life. Because you cannot play mixed doubles with Kei Nishikori and lose in the first round of the Olympics in Tokyo. That would be the biggest — like, I would cry. I would actually cry for losing a doubles match. Yeah, definitely I think that that would be so, like, historic in a way. And I would love to do it, but I need to practice my doubles.”

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