Laura Zeng

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Laura Zeng, top U.S. rhythmic gymnast, suspended 6 months

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Laura Zeng, the four-time reigning U.S. rhythmic gymnastics champion and Olympian, was banned six months after testing positive for a banned substance in an altitude-sickness medication that she thought was ibuprofen, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The 19-year-old Zeng’s ban runs through April 17, backdated to the date of her drug test. She will not miss any major meets.

The banned substance, acetazolamide, is a diuretic. The medication was prescribed to one of her parents. Zeng took the medication while traveling in a high-altitude location, according to USADA.

Since Zeng thought it was ibuprofen, which is not banned, she did not apply for a therapeutic-use exemption that athletes commonly request to take prescribed medication that contains otherwise banned substances.

In Rio, Zeng matched the highest individual Olympic finish for a U.S. rhythmic gymnast (11th place) since the sport was introduced at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Zeng also has the highest all-around finishes for an American at the world championships, placing sixth in 2017 and eighth in 2015 and 2018.

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