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Russia appeal of Olympic ban set for sport’s highest court

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GENEVA — The Russian doping scandal will return to sport’s highest court in November when the nation faces a four-year ban of its flag, anthem and colors from Olympic Games and world championships.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Tuesday its judging panel will hear evidence on Nov. 2-5 in the latest case examining allegations of state-backed doping and covering up evidence.

No timetable was given for an expected verdict in a case which should be heard at the court’s headquarters in the Olympic capital of Lausanne, Switzerland.

The sanctions will take effect when the CAS panel of three judges give its verdict.

The legal fight follows the World Anti-Doping Agency recommending a four-year slate of punishments for Russian sport and athletes last December and declaring the national anti-doping agency non-compliant.

WADA investigators found years of data from the Moscow testing laboratory relating to hundreds of athletes had been tampered with before being handed over last year.

Russian teams and athletes would be stripped of their identity by the WADA sanctions proposal and forced to compete as neutrals at major events such as the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

Russia would also be blocked from bidding to host major championships and risk being stripped of events it was already due to host.

The hearing was required after Russia’s anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, disputed the ruling by WADA’s executive committee at the urging of state authorities including President Vladimir Putin.

WADA’s request for the CAS hearing to be held in publicly open court was denied because all parties involved needed to give consent.

The case involves the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee, plus the Russian bodies of both organizations, and ice hockey’s governing body, the court said in February. Some Russian athletes also asked to be part of the legal process.

Data from the lab shuttered by WADA in 2015 and long sealed by Russian security agencies was demanded by the anti-doping watchdog in exchange for recognizing RUSADA’s status again in September 2018.

Russia handing over the data archive in January 2019 was meant to help resolve the scandal that has tainted the Olympic Games since 2008, and in particular the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

However, WADA investigators found evidence Russia edited the data in the weeks before the handover to remove signs of failed drug tests, and detailed an apparent attempt to smear former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov.

MORE: Russia Olympic track and field champions face doping cases

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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