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Aliya Mustafina to miss gymnastics worlds

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Aliya Mustafina will not be on the Russian roster for next month’s world gymnastics championships, the nation’s gymnastics federation confirmed Tuesday.

Mustafina previously said she’s unlikely to compete because she skipped a domestic Russian qualifying meet, according to Olympic Channel.

“I can’t qualify for the world championships,” Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist, said, according to the report. “At the moment, I choose to find myself physically, morally, rest a little. I want to start my way to Tokyo with a brand new energy.”

Mustafina, 24, is the last non-American woman to win an Olympic or world championships all-around, back in 2010 in her first year as a senior gymnast. A series of injuries followed, including surgeries on both knees and her left ankle.

She earned all-around bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, plus uneven bars titles at both Games. She had daughter Alisa in 2017, then finished fifth on bars at worlds 16 months later.

Mustafina joined a list of distinguished moms to return to the top level of gymnastics, including Oksana Chusovitina, who began competing in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and, seven Olympics later, is still competing at age 44 (for Uzbekistan).

The most decorated Olympic gymnast, Soviet Larisa Latynina, earned 12 of her 18 medals after becoming a mom.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov suspended from international hockey for cocaine

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Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has been banned from international hockey for four years, presumably including the 2022 Olympics, after testing positive for cocaine at the world championship in May.

“I have made the decision to accept this penalty,” Kuznetsov said in a statement. “Representing my country has always been so close to my heart and something I take so much pride in. Not being able to put that sweater on for four years is very hard to take. … I feel absolutely terrible for letting you down. I realize that the only way I can win you back is to take ownership of my situation and my actions from this point forward.”

Kuznetsov, the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs scoring leader in helping the Washington Capitals to the title, is banned from Russian national team play into June 2023 but has not been suspended from the NHL.

Kuznetsov, 27, was on the Russian roster for five world championships since 2012. He was also among the Capitals’ top three points scorers each of the last four seasons.

In May, the NHL and the Capitals investigated a now-deleted social media video that appeared to show Kuznetsov in a hotel room with lines of white powder on a table in front of him. Kuznetsov said then that he had never taken illegal drugs, and he was not punished by the NHL or the Capitals.

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Retroactive analysis brings doping charges against Russian weightlifters

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MOSCOW (AP) — Five Russian weightlifters, all of them world or European championship medalists, face doping charges which could herald a new wave of cases across a range of sports.

The International Weightlifting Federation said Tuesday that evidence against the five lifters, including 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Ruslan Albegov, comes from new investigations by the World Anti-Doping Agency into widespread drug use in Russian sports. All five have been provisionally suspended.

Albegov was also provisionally suspended in 2017, but the suspension was lifted the next year. The entire Russian team was banned from the 2016 Olympics.

IWF president Tamas Ajan said the alleged offenses occurred “some years ago” and should be seen as part of efforts to clean up weightlifting, which was responsible for dozens of doping cases at recent Olympics.

“We have not shown any hesitation in taking the right decisions,” he said in a statement. “While the IWF has done so much to begin a bright new chapter for our sport, we will also do what we can to pursue historical cases of doping.”

Albegov is a two-time world champion who won bronze in July in a test event for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

The others are world champion Tima Turiyeva and double European champions Oleg Chen and David Bedzhanyan, as well as Egor Klimonov, who won European championship silver in April.

Russia was banned entirely from weightlifting at the 2016 Olympics when the IWF said its doping problem brought the sport into disrepute. For next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, Russia is among 17 countries hit with new doping-related restrictions on the size of their squads.

WADA has been analyzing a vast archive of data obtained in January from the anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, where cases were routinely covered up for years. WADA has started handing over its results to sports federations. It also obtained a batch of stored drug-test samples in April.

The lab data was crucial to bans for two Russians in the winter sport of biathlon in June. The International Biathlon Union handed Alexander Chernyshov and Alexander Pechyonkin longer bans because it deemed their conduct was aggravated by being part of an “organized doping scheme.”

WADA president Craig Reedie said at the time that he expects more than 100 new doping cases to be brought across various Russian sports. Only a small fraction has so far been announced.

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