Ryan Lochte, with Michael Phelps’ help, says he is back at his peak

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Ryan Lochte said he recently got serious in his comeback from two suspensions and rehab for alcohol addiction. He received pointers from Michael Phelps, according to TODAY.

“My times that I’m doing in practice are things that I’ve seen back when I was at my peak in 2012,” Lochte said in an interview that aired Wednesday morning.

Lochte, 35 and the most decorated active Olympian with 12 medals, is bidding to make his fifth Olympic team next year. He could become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in an individual event since 1904.

Lochte last competed at the U.S. Championships in early August, winning the 200m individual medley against a field that lacked the top Americans who swam at the July world championships.

Still, his time ranked him fourth in the country for the year. The top two at the Olympic trials in June qualify for the Tokyo Games. Lochte could also try the 200m freestyle, where the top six are likely go to Tokyo for the 4x200m free relay.

Lochte competed at nationals after revealing that he spent six weeks in rehab for alcohol addiction during a 14-month ban for a May 2018 IV infusion of an illegal amount of a legal substance.

In October 2018, Lochte’s attorney said that Lochte had been battling alcohol addiction for many years, and that it had become a destructive pattern for him. Those comments came after TMZ reported that Lochte was involved in an early morning California hotel incident.

When asked at nationals if he still drinks alcohol, Lochte said he had a glass of wine to celebrate the June birth of his daughter, Liv, but that he doesn’t care for it.

“If I was to keep going down this destructive path that I was going to end up … something tragic,” Lochte said on TODAY. “I don’t care to go out and party, to be the loud one anymore.”

Lochte, now a married father of two, said he went into nationals 22 pounds overweight.

“When my daughter was born, training kind of started slipping away,” he said. “So I went to fast food, and I started eating just everything.”

Lochte has since shed 21 of those pounds, according to his social media. Phelps similarly gained weight in his post-2012 retirement. Phelps also spent 45 days in an Arizona rehab facility after a 2014 arrest for driving under the influence that led to a six-month suspension.

“[Phelps has] been giving him pointers on how to make this comeback, in and out of the pool,” TODAY’s Craig Melvin said. “One of the things that Phelps told him he should be doing is leaning on his family for support.”

MORE: U.S. Olympic champion swimmer retires after doping ban

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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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