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Julie, Zach Ertz share what they learned from each other’s sports

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As Julie Ertz prepares for an Olympic year, and her husband a potential NFL playoff run, each can draw on the other’s experiences at the pinnacle of their sports.

Ertz and husband Zach, a Philadelphia Eagles tight end, discussed swapping training ideas, among other topics, on The Peter King Podcast.

The full 53-minute episode is here.

Ertz said she has grown to love watching match film after seeing Zach’s passion for studying.

“How important it is to pay attention to detail, even through route running,” she said on the podcast. “If somebody’s in the wrong spot, the whole play is kind of messed up. Every play is different, and in soccer it’s obviously a little bit more fluid, but it allowed me to stay more aware of where I am on the field.”

Zach said he was driven by training with Ertz, especially through core work. They’ve done yoga and Pilates together. Mentally, he can appreciate an athlete who trains for one or two major events every four years.

“The World Cup and the Olympics are what you’re going to be judged on as a player in her sport … it’s twice every four years, and so those two years you don’t have a quote-unquote big tournament, you can let your preparation lack if you really weren’t dedicated, if you weren’t fully invested,” he said. “But the way I see Julie train each and every day, she’s always training to be the best person she can be. She’s not training for the end result. She’s training for being a better player today than she was yesterday.”

Ertz, 27 and the 2017 U.S. Player of the Year, was part of World Cup title teams in 2015 and this past summer, but she doesn’t have an Olympic medal.

The U.S. was upset by Sweden in the quarterfinals in Rio. Ertz kept a photo from the match as a screen saver on her phone as a reminder of unfinished business.

“It was a horrible heartbreak that I’d never had before,” she said.

MORE: Rio Olympic women’s soccer champions fail to qualify for Tokyo

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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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MORE: Viral Olympic moments of 2010s decade

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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MORE: Viral Olympic moments of 2010s decade