Garrett Scantling, world’s top decathlete, banned three years

Garrett Scantling
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Garrett Scantling, the world’s top decathlete this year by best score, was banned three years, through the 2024 Paris Olympics, in a case of missing (but not failing) drug tests and/or not filing complete information to be found for drug testing.

Scantling’s ban was backdated to June 27, the date he committed what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) called “a tampering violation” and two months after his third “whereabouts failure” in a 12-month span.

Three whereabouts failures — usually not being present for out-of-competition drug tests — in a 12-month span can trigger up to a two-year suspension. The specifics of Scantling’s whereabouts failures have not been published.

Scantling then provided an altered email during an investigation into his third whereabouts failure, constituting the tampering violation, according to USADA.

“Just such an unfortunate situation,” Scantling said in a text on Friday. “I worked so hard to get into the position that I was in. But one mistake alters the whole course of my career. I own it, and I take responsibility no matter how harsh the consequences may seem for a clean athlete. Now I am going to start training youth and keep building my coaching resume while I take care of my body for a POSSIBLE return in 2025. But for now I am just trying to move on and be happy with what I have accomplished so far in my life, knowing that I still have so much left to go!”

Scantling was first provisionally suspended in July, ruling him out of the world championships while his case played out. Scantling was successfully drug tested nine times between his first whereabouts failure on Aug. 25, 2021 and the start of his provisional suspension on July 21, according to USADA.

“Unfortunately, there’s no leniency for being forgetful, you have to accept responsibility and move on,” Scantling posted on social media when the provisional ban was announced in July.

Scantling had what would have been a four-year ban reduced to three years because he admitted the violation and accepted the sanction within 20 days of notification.

Scantling had the world’s best decathlon score of the year at the time — 8,867 points — a score that would have won the world championships and remains the best in the world this year. He was fourth at the Tokyo Olympics.

“The rules keeping sport fair and clean can be inconvenient and burdensome, but athletes fulfilling their obligations under the rules is critical to protect the integrity of competition for all,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a press release. “Even when a rule violation, like in this case, does not involve the use of prohibited drugs, it is paramount that truthful, open, and complete cooperation happens with organizations like USADA and the Athletics Integrity Unit when investigating any potential rule violations.”

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

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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