Lashinda Demus upgraded to Olympic champ by World Athletics, 10 years after race

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American Lashinda Demus has been upgraded from 2012 Olympic 400m hurdles runner-up to champion by World Athletics after original winner Natalya Antyukh of Russia did not appeal her recent retroactive disqualification for doping.

Demus, who originally finished seven hundredths of a second behind Antyukh, is now listed as gold medalist on her World Athletics page. Antyukh was moved from first place to the bottom of the race results, listed as DQ.

Zuzana Hejnová of the Czech Republic was moved from third to second and Jamaican Kaliese Spencer from fourth to third.

The International Olympic Committee has not changed its results to reallocate medals but can still do so. The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases in track and field, said it notified the IOC last Friday of World Athletics’ results change.

“The reallocation of medals is not automatic,” the IOC press office said Wednesday when asked about the 2012 Olympic women’s 400m hurdles results change. “As a general rule, each reallocation is submitted to the IOC [Executive Board] for approval once the athletes/teams sanctioned have exhausted all their remedies of appeal and when all procedures are closed.”

On Oct. 24, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency announced that Antyukh’s results from July 2012 through June 2013, a stretch that includes the London Games, were stripped due to evidence of doping from historical data. Antyukh, a 41-year-old who last competed in 2016, was already serving a four-year doping ban.

“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 after the October announcement. “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.”

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).

Demus 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 down to one pending the IOC medal reallocations — high jumper Anna Chicherova, who was stripped of her 2008 Olympic bronze medal for doping.

The span between Antyukh winning an Olympic medal and it being stripped for doping may be the longest for the Summer Games since Lance Armstrong was stripped of his 2000 Olympic cycling time trial bronze medal more than 12 years after the race. That medal was not reallocated. Spain’s Abraham Olano, the fourth-place finisher, was not upgraded and later had his name come up in a French senate report of cyclists who doped in the 1998 Tour de France.

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Isabeau Levito, Bradie Tennell, Amber Glenn named to U.S. team for World Championships

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – With a calm command belying her age, Isabeau Levito has taken control of U.S. women’s skating at age 15.

Levito came here as the solid favorite to take her first national title, and she did it with a seemingly effortless grace, her balletic style producing solid winning performances in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate.

She was the last of 18 skaters in the free skate, following rivals who made mistakes big and small. Levito did not need perfection, but her skating approached it, even if the execution of some jumps could have been better.

Levito left no doubt of her superiority and burst into a wide smile even before the scores were announced. After a narrow win over Bradie Tennell (.02 points) in the short program, Levito (223.33) wound up 10.21 points ahead of the runner-up Tennell (213.12) in the final standings.

Amber Glenn was third at 207.44. She, Levito and Tennell will fill the three women’s places on the U.S. team for the March World Championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Two of the three U.S. women’s skaters on the 2022 Olympic team have announced their retirements (Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell; Karen Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return). Given that and Tennell’s recurrent problems with injuries, Levito’s stature as the leading U.S. woman seemed assured. Whatever pressure she felt holding that position was not evident.

“My entire goal truly for both programs was to stay composed and to really try to suppress my nerves as much as possible and to really not let little minor silly mistakes happen,” Levito said. “I feel as though I did just that today and I’m very proud of myself for it.”

“I’ve gotten very good at suppressing nerves,” she had said after the short program. “I still feel the effects of the competition. But I find my own way mentally to handle it.”

For both Tennell and Glenn, there was a redemptive quality to their skating.

Neither had a result at last year’s nationals. Glenn had to withdraw after the short program when she tested positive for COVID. Tennell never made it to the event because of the foot injury that kept her out of competition for all last season.

“Honestly, it was terrifying being back here after the conclusion of my season last year,” Glenn said. “That was a big mental hurdle for me, but I was happy I was actually able to enjoy myself again and enjoy competing.”

Glenn made her 10th career attempt at a triple axel, stepping out of the landing after getting full rotational credit. Her persistence in trying that jump, which she never has landed cleanly, is one reason she was holding her hip after finishing the free skate. Glenn insisted it was just soreness.

“An unfortunate side effect of being 23 and doing these ultra (difficult) elements is my body can’t always keep up very well,” Glenn said.

Tennell, who turns 25 Tuesday, has been battling an injury in her right foot for more than a year, then an injury in her left foot since October. She fought past all that to make the podium for the fifth time in her last five nationals – twice first, twice second and once third.

“This one probably means the most, because I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this again,” Tennell said. “To be here and to have achieved it, especially after the (poor) start of my season and the bumps that I had to overcome, I’m very proud of what I accomplished.”

Levito, the reigning world junior champion, reeled off seven triple jumps, two in combination with other triple jumps. She glided from element to element seamlessly.

“I finally skated the free the way I’ve been training to do it,” she said.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.

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Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
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Scotty James doesn’t have Olympic gold, but he remains king of the X Games halfpipe.

James, the Australian snowboarder who took bronze and silver at the last two Olympics, earned his fifth Aspen gold, repeating as champ of the biggest annual contest under falling snow in the Colorado Rockies. Only the retired Shaun White has more X Games men’s snowboard halfpipe titles with eight.

Nobody on Friday night attempted a triple cork, which was first done in competition by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano last season en route to the Olympic title. Hirano placed sixth Friday.

“It was a tough night, pretty interesting conditions,” James said. “Had to adjust the game plan. The show goes on.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression over the course of a three-run jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand repeated as women’s snowboard slopestyle champion, passing Olympic bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia on the final run of the competition. Sadowski-Synnott, the only snowboarder or skier to win Olympic, world and X Games slopestyle titles, capped her finale with back-to-back 900s.

The competition lacked 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, who announced her pregnancy last month.

Canada’s Megan Oldham landed the first triple cork in women’s ski big air competition history to beat Olympic silver medalist Tess Ledeux of France, according to commentators. Oldham, a 21-year-old ex-gymnast, was fourth at the Olympics.

Eileen Gu, the Olympic champion from China, did not compete but is entered in halfpipe and slopestyle later this weekend.

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