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Ilya Zakharov, Olympic diving champion, retires after missing drug tests

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Russian Ilya Zakharov, who broke China’s diving gold-medal streak on the springboard, has retired due to injury, according to his social media.

Zakharov’s post came on the same day that Russian media reported that he missed three drug tests over a 12-month period, triggering an 18-month suspension.

“I have never used doping… and I will never do it!” was posted on Zakahrova’s Instagram. “Due to injury I had two operations and missed doping tests.”

Zakharov, 28, did not compete at July’s world championships but did win a synchronized springboard title at the Russian Championships in May after having knee surgery earlier this year, according to Russian media. The three missed tests came on October 21, 2018; February 17 and June 11, according to TASS, citing the Russian Diving Federation president.

In the 2012 Olympic springboard final, Zakharov overtook Chinese Qin Kai on the last dive to become the first non-Chinese diver to win an Olympic title on the event (man or woman) since 1992.

Zakharov finished 18th at the Rio Olympics.

He also earned synchro springboard silver in 2012, plus seven world championships medals on the springboard from 2011-17.

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China authors most dominant diving world championships in history

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Yang Jian put an exclamation point on China’s most dominant world diving championships ever, winning the men’s platform with the highest finals score in recent history to end the meet.

Yang tallied 10s in each of the last two rounds to hold off countryman Yang Hao (who had all 10s in round four) with 598.65 points. Yang Hao tallied 585.75 for silver, 44.7 points ahead of Russian bronze medalist Aleksandr Bondar.

Ukrainian 13-year-old Oleksii Sereda took fourth.

British star Tom Daley, the defending world champion who had the previous recent highest score of 590.95 points, dropped out of the medals in the fifth round with the lowest score (46.25) of the 72 dives from 12 entrants. He ended up seventh.

Americans Brandon Loschiavo and David Dinsmore placed eighth and 12th, respectively.

China won all 12 events that it entered at diving worlds, skipping a mixed-gender springboard Saturday that’s not on the Olympic program.

China, which has dominated the sport for two decades, won every event that it entered at an Olympics or worlds for the second time after going 10 for 10 in 2011.

This year’s feat is more impressive because mixed-gender events were added to the world program (but not the Olympic program) since 2011. And this year, China not only won every gold but also every silver in the four individual Olympic program events.

Yang Jian is an interesting story in particular. In 2014, he broke the record for highest-scoring dive with a 123-point, front four-and-a-half, leading 2012 Olympic champion David Boudia to dub him the 2016 Olympic favorite.

But Yang struggled with injury in 2015, dropped to 10th at those worlds and wasn’t on China’s team for Rio. He came back for bronze at 2017 Worlds and silver at the 2018 World Cup before an ankle injury last winter.

“It is hard to win the gold medal after such a long term of difficulty in my life,” he said.

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China on brink of sweeping every gold medal at diving worlds

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Shi Tingmao joined Guo Jingjing as the only women to win three straight world titles in an individual diving event, giving China 11 gold medals in 11 events with two finals left in Gwangju, South Korea.

Shi, who swept the individual and synchronized springboard titles in Rio, claimed the 3m world title on Friday by 18.25 points with 391 total. Countrywoman Wang Han took silver, 5.8 points ahead of Australian Maddison Keeney.

Americans Sarah Bacon and Brooke Schultz missed the 12-woman final, placing 14th and 29th.

China, which has dominated the sport for two decades, is looking to sweep the golds at an Olympics or worlds for the second time after winning all 10 events in 2011. This year’s feat could be more impressive, should China win the last two events Saturday — a mixed-gender springboard and the men’s platform.

That’s because three mixed-gender events were added to the world program (but not the Olympic program) since 2011. And this year, China has not only won every gold but also taken every silver in the three individual Olympic program events thus far.

China is in strong position to go one-two in the men’s platform. Yang Jian and Yang Hao were nearly 70 points clear of the field in Friday’s semifinals.

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