Natalya Antyukh stripped of Olympic 400m hurdles title; Lashinda Demus in line for gold

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In a doping case, Russian Natalya Antyukh has been stripped of her results from July 2012 through June 2013, a stretch that includes her Olympic title in the 400m hurdles, putting American Lashinda Demus in line for an upgrade to gold should medals be reallocated.

“Hearing the news didn’t impact my mood or feelings being that it has been 10 years since it has happened,” Demus, who last competed in 2016, wrote in an email Tuesday. “I have mixed emotions about it all. I do believe that if, in fact, there was doping involved with anyone in the Olympics that they should be stripped of their medal. With everything being said it looks like this is the case for my race. I’m not afraid to say that I then deserve the official title, medal, recognition, and missed compensation that goes along with it all. I wouldn’t want any athlete to go through this same situation and I hope that keeping athletes honest in our sport stays at the forefront for those who sacrifice a good part of their life to be great at it.”

Antyukh was found to have used a banned substance or method based on database evidence, which led to the retroactive stripping of her results from a decade ago, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which handles doping cases in track and field. The retroactive ban, doled out by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, can be appealed.

“It will become final and binding after 45 days if there is no appeal,” according to the AIU in an email Monday. “Thereafter, the AIU will send a sanction memo to the [World Athletics] Competition Department so they can proceed with the disqualification of the Athlete’s results. The AIU will then write to the IOC to confirm the Athlete’s sanction and let them know that they may now proceed with the re-allocation of medals and the update of the IOC database.”

Last year, Antyukh was banned four years in a doping case related to evidence from the 2016 McLaren report on Russian doping. Her results from July 2013 through December 2015 were also stripped. She last competed in 2016, according to World Athletics.

In the 2012 Olympic 400m hurdles final, Antyukh, then 31, lowered her personal best by 22 hundredths of a second to hold off Demus by seven hundredths for the gold medal.

“Of course, I wanted the gold medal; I will not stop until I get the gold medal,” Demus told Lewis Johnson on NBC after the race, voicing a desire to return for the 2016 Olympics (which she did not do after a series of injuries).

At the time, Demus was the third-fastest woman in history in the event and the American record holder with a personal best of 52.47.

Demus, a 2004 Olympian, missed the 2008 Beijing Games by one spot at Olympic Trials after giving birth to twins in June 2007. She also won world championships medals in 2005 (silver), 2009 (silver), 2011 (gold) and 2013 (bronze).

If Demus is upgraded to gold, she becomes, retroactively, the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic 400m hurdles title. Dalilah Muhammad won the event in 2016 and Sydney McLaughlin last year in Tokyo.

Russia originally won eight track and field gold medals at the 2012 Olympics. Due to doping, that number is now one — high jumper Anna Chicherova, who was stripped of her 2008 Olympic bronze medal for doping.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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