Getty Images

Japan Olympic swimmer, world champion fails drug test

Leave a comment

Junya Koga, a Rio Olympic relay swimmer and 2009 World champion in the 100m backstroke, failed two March drug tests for banned “muscle-building” substances and has been kicked off the Japan national team, according to Japanese media.

“I feel ashamed, miserable and frustrated,” Koga said in a Wednesday news conference, according to Agence France-Presse. “I couldn’t believe it — I thought it was some mistake.”

The 30-year-old said the substances could have come from a supplement. He appealed to the World Anti-Doping Agency, according to AFP.

“I never took the substance detected intentionally,” Koga said, according to the report. “But I’m responsible for proving that. To those who support me, I’m deeply sorry.”

Koga was a surprise gold medalist in 2009 at the famous super-suit world championships with 43 world records (though Koga merely lowered the meet record in the semifinals and final). Aaron Peirsol, who had won three straight world titles and two straight Olympic titles in the 100m back, was eliminated in the semifinals.

Koga made one Olympic team, as part of Japan’s 4x100m freestyle relay that placed eighth in Rio. Last year, he took world championships silver in the 50m backstroke, which is not an Olympic event.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Ryan Lochte begins comeback in earnest

Sapporo wants to push back 2026 Winter Olympic bid

Sapporo
Getty Images
1 Comment

Sapporo, one of seven 2026 Winter Olympic bids, told the Japanese Olympic Committee it prefers to bid for the 2030 Winter Games instead, according to Japanese media.

Officials from Sapporo and the Japanese Olympic Committee are expected to hold talks soon, according to Jiji Press.

If Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, remains in the 2026 race after the IOC invites cities to the official candidate phase in October, it faces one clear obstacle, reportedly indicated by Sapporo mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto: The 2018 Winter Olympics were in PyeongChang and the 2022 Winter Games will be in Beijing.

IOC president Thomas Bach said he hopes the Winter Olympics can return to a more traditional location in 2026, which USOC chairman Larry Probst called “code for Europe or North America.”

2030 might not be much easier. The U.S. and Norway could both put forth strong bids.

Sapporo, which has been talked about as a potential 2026 bid city for more than three years, hosted the Asian Winter Games in 2017, as well as in 1986 and 1990.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 2026 Winter Olympic bidding news

Kohei Uchimura’s streak as Japanese champion ends at 10 years

Getty Images
1 Comment

Not only is Kohei Uchimura‘s reign as world all-around champion finished, but he’s also no longer the Japanese national all-around champion.

Uchimura, the double Olympic all-around gold medalist and eight-time world-all around champ, finished third at the All-Japan Championships over the weekend.

“This gives me a sample of something I haven’t tasted up to this point,” Uchimura said, according to Kyodo News. “From now on, it’s no longer about results.”

The 29-year-old Uchimura, largely considered the greatest gymnast in history, won every Japanese all-around title from 2008 through 2017. He won every Olympic and world title from 2009 through 2016 before withdrawing during last fall’s worlds with an ankle injury.

“Win or lose, either way is fine,” Uchimura said Sunday, according to Kyodo. “I didn’t make it to the finals at the world championships because I got hurt. But now [with this loss] I’m finally released.”

Uchimura had the highest score on the second day of competition Sunday, but he could not overcome a deficit from falling off the pommel horse on the opening day Friday, where he had the fifth-best score.

He ended up a half-point behind Kakeru Tanigawa, who at 19 became Japan’s youngest male all-around champion, according to Kyodo. World all-around bronze medalist Kenzo Shirai was runner-up.

Uchimura’s days as an all-around gymnast are numbered. He said before the Rio Olympics that he may limit his focus to one or two events for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“Staying in the national team will lead me to the Tokyo Olympics,” Uchimura said, according to Agence France-Presse. “I want to be a team member even if I am out of form.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Simone Biles: I’m better than I was in Rio