Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, to miss Olympics with ban

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion from Bahrain, is banned through the Tokyo Olympics and for two years total over a case of missed drug tests in 2019.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld appeals from World Athletics and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which challenged an October 2020 ruling that threw out one of Naser’s three missed tests in a 12-month span that otherwise would have prompted a one-to-two-year ban.

That October 2020 ruling came from an Athletics Integrity Unit disciplinary tribunal.

Naser’s ban begins today and runs into early 2023. She gets credit for time served during a provisional suspension from June 4, 2020 to Oct. 14, 2020.

On Oct. 3, 2019, Naser won the world title in Doha in 48.14 seconds, the third-fastest time in history and the fastest in 34 years.

On June 4, 2020, Naser was provisionally suspended pending a hearing on her case for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span. Naser said that the missed tests all came before the 2019 World Championships.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser said in June 2020. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs. I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

In October 2020, a disciplinary tribunal dismissed one of the missed tests, citing a tester knocking on a storage unit door rather than her apartment in confusion of her location.

Naser’s “whole approach to the whereabouts requirements was seriously and inexcusably irresponsible,” according to CAS on Wednesday, reported by Reuters. “She attempted to escape the consequences of her actions by giving evidence which this panel found to be untruthful.”

Naser, the 2017 World 400m silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the 2019 World title in Doha.

Naser will not be stripped of her 2019 World title because she passed 19 drug tests from April to November 2019, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit, citing a CAS explanation that has not been published.

Miller-Uibo has said she will race the 200m at the Olympics and not the 400m, choosing one because the events overlap.

The 2019 World bronze medalist, Shericka Jackson of Jamaica, has moved down to the 100m and 200m.

Namibia’s Christine Mboma, 18, is the world’s fastest woman in the 400m since the start of 2019 outside of those three women. She ran 49.22 on April 17. Another Namibian 18-year-old, Beatrice Masilingi, is next on the list at 49.53.

American Wadeline Jonathas was fourth at the 2019 Worlds in 49.60. Jonathas finished third at the Olympic Trials behind Quanera Hayes and Allyson Felix.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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Lara Gut-Behrami wins Killington giant slalom, and the overall title race may be on

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Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami rallied from third place after the first run for her 35th career World Cup victory, taking a giant slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Saturday.

Gut-Behrami, 31, earned her fifth World Cup giant slalom win and first in six years. She prevailed by .07 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino combining times from two windy runs. Sweden’s Sara Hector, the Olympic champion and first-run leader, ended up third.

“Last two years I’ve been getting better in GS again,” said Gut-Behrami, who won the GS at the last world championships in 2021. “Last year I was struggling with my health. I was all the time sick.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Gut-Behrami’s best events are downhill and super-G, so a strong start to the season in GS could put her on a path to winning the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She previously lifted that crystal globe in 2016.

Reigning World Cup overall champ Mikaela Shiffrin, who previously placed second, third, fourth and fifth in Killington giant slaloms, finished 13th after winning the season’s first two races, slaloms in Finland last week. It marked her lowest World Cup GS finish since December 2019.

“[Finland] was a spectacular weekend,” Shiffrin, who has not had much recent GS training, said after her 10th-place opening run Saturday. “Every race is a different story.”

Shiffrin won all five World Cup slaloms in Killington dating to 2016 and will go for her 50th career World Cup slalom victory across all venues on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock).

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