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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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Chad le Clos seeks Sun Yang’s Olympic gold medal for doping case

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NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Chad le Clos believes he has a claim on Sun Yang’s gold medal from the Rio Olympics, with a verdict imminent on the Chinese swimmer’s latest doping case.

“He should be banned. It’s as simple as that,” Le Clos said in an interview with The Associated Press this week. “Anyone who tests positive should be banned. I should get my gold medal back from Rio.

“Not for the moment. I lost that. I don’t really care about that,” Le Clos added on Wednesday. “It’s just for my record. If I break my leg and I can’t swim again I want my record to say, ‘Two individual golds, two individual silvers.’ Because that’s what it should be.”

Le Clos’ Olympic record currently contains one gold medal and three silvers — including a second-place finish to Sun in the Rio Olympic 200m free

Odds are, though, that Sun won’t lose any Olympic titles when the Court of Arbitration for Sport issues its ruling over his alleged refusal to provide blood and urine in September 2018 in a visit by sample collectors to his home in China. During the late-night confrontation, a security guard used a hammer to smash a container holding Sun’s blood as the swimmer lit the scene with his mobile phone.

The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed after swimming federation FINA merely warned Sun and cited doubts about credentials shown by three sample collection officials.

A three-time Olympic champion, Sun could be banished from the sport for up to eight years but any ban likely won’t be backdated before September 2018 — meaning all of his Olympic medals seem safe.

But there’s also the fact that international swimming authorities worked to protect Sun from being banned, according to a Swiss supreme court document.

FINA has faced criticisms in the past for favoring Sun during his career. It did not announce Sun’s three-month ban for doping imposed by Chinese authorities until after it ended in 2014.

“I just hope the system and whatever we have is really accurate,” said Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú, who won three golds in Rio. “I just hope the decisions they are making is fair and is for the sport and not for other reasons.”

The medals that Sun risks losing most are the two golds that he won at last year’s world championships in the 200m and 400m frees. At the event in Gwangju, South Korea, fellow medalists Mack Horton of Australia and Duncan Scott of Britain refused to stand with him on the podium.

Sun has denied any wrongdoing. Any ban imposed in the coming days would likely prevent him from competing at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“I have nothing against anybody. It’s not personal,” Le Clos said. “It’s just how the world should be. If you cheat or if you do something wrong, like if you false start, you get disqualified. It’s simple as that.”

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U.S. Olympic luger Emily Sweeney looks forward from depression bout

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Luge’s World Cup campaign ends this weekend in Germany, where most of the best 100 sliders in the sport will be looking to close their international seasons on a high note.

Emily Sweeney won’t be among them.

Her season ended a couple weeks ago, on her terms.

The U.S. veteran is officially two years into her recovery from a crash at the PyeongChang Olympics that she walked away from — even with a broken neck and broken back — and two years away, she hopes, from being a medal contender at the Beijing Games.

She decided to listen to her body and step away from the frantic end of the season, heading home instead to meet her sister’s new baby and formulate a plan for her offseason.

Here’s what she has learned: Fractures heal, but everything else takes time. So while her body still betrays her from time to time on the track, an additional focus on the mental game is what Sweeney hopes will get her to the medal podium in Beijing in 2022.

“I am very comfortable about thinking about my weaknesses because I failed so much early on,” Sweeney said. “I didn’t make two Olympic teams right in a row. I constantly had to look at myself and say ‘What’s wrong? What am I not like?’ I had to be creative with my training and with the whole process. And so, I think I’m pretty comfortable with challenges.”

That’s why, this season, when she felt like her body couldn’t do it anymore she simply went home. The decision was not easy: Her team is still competing, she has plenty of friends on the circuit and her longtime boyfriend — Italian star Dominik Fischnaller — is a serious contender to win the men’s World Cup overall title.

But a setback right now could throw a serious wrench into her Olympic plans. The problem was pressure, not in the sense of what’s comes with the prospects of winning or losing in competition, but the massive gravitational force that sliders feel and fight through when they are on the ice at speeds often topping 80mph. It takes tremendous strength, and Sweeney’s neck still isn’t always up to the challenge. So, with wear and tear of the season taking a toll, she headed home.

“It’s not a question of if I’m good enough,” said Sweeney, who won a medal at last season’s world championships — cementing her status as one of the fastest women on ice. “I see it in my splits. I would have first-place splits, then get to the pressure and I ended up 15th. I just couldn’t keep going through this cycle of pushing it, pushing it, pushing it and then losing all my speed as soon as I can’t hold my head up anymore.”

So she’s working on her body and her mind.

Sweeney is one of the most-upbeat sliders on the luge circuit; always smiling, always happy, and most of the time her good mood is genuine. After the crash, however, the good mood wasn’t always there, and it took Sweeney some time to realize that there was more wrong than just the fractures in her neck and back.

“I went into a depression,” Sweeney said. “It’s weird saying that. But it feels foreign to me to say I broke my neck and my back two years ago. And it feels dramatic to say, which I guess I need to just get more comfortable with that. But I think that just the way I was raised was like, ‘All right, brush it off and move on.’ And that’s why I think I appear a lot of times like it’s just sunshine and rainbows, but this one forced me to stop. But you have to. And the alternative is to stay at that low and that just becomes miserable.”

From therapy came a plan: Do one thing a day to feel better toward the ultimate goal of medaling in 2022.

Most days, she succeeds. When Sweeney is right, especially in sprint events, few women in the world have a chance of catching her. Her sliding career is peaking. Her mental game, she thinks, is catching up.

And now she’s got two years to put the whole package together.

“Being an Olympian was my dream since I was 7 years old,” Sweeney said. “And then I became an Olympian, and I said, ‘Well, that’s not enough. I want a medal.’”

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