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Russian Olympic track and field champions face doping cases

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Russian Olympic track and field champions Natalya Antyukh (400m hurdles, 2012) and Andrey Silnov (high jump, 2008), both retired, have pending Court of Arbitration cases appearing related to evidence from the 2016 McLaren report on Russian doping.

Antyukh, Silnov and two more Russian track and field athletes who haven’t competed in years, hammer thrower Oksana Kondratyeva and middle-distance runner Yelena Soboleva, appeared this week on the Athletics Integrity Unit’s list of pending first cases. The Athletics Integrity Unit handles doping cases in track.

All four cases involve alleged violations of using prohibited substances or methods, tacked with “McLaren evidence.”

Antyukh, who last competed in June 2016, held off American Lashinda Demus by seven hundredths of a second in the 2012 Olympic 400m hurdles final. Antyukh lowered her personal best by .22 in clocking 52.70.

Silnov won the 2008 Olympic high jump by clearing 2.36 meters. The late British athlete Germaine Mason took silver, followed by another Russian, Yaroslav Rybakov. No American was in the final.

In June, Silnov told Russian state news agencies he had received a notification from the Athletics Integrity Unit that he was under investigation. Silnov stepped down as senior vice president of the Russian track and field federation, which has been banned from competition since 2015. The AIU said his case included suspicions of using a banned steroid.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Russia limited to 10 neutral track and field athletes at Olympics

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Russia can have no more than 10 track and field athletes, competing as neutrals, at the Tokyo Olympics.

World Athletics announced a package of sanctions Thursday in relation to Russia’s track and field federation’s doping rule-breaking. The federation was also fined $10 million. Russia has been barred from track and field since 2015 for its well-publicized doping problems.

“The package of sanctions approved by the Council today reflects the seriousness of RusAF’s wrongdoing and sends a clear message that we take these types of offenses by our Member Federations extremely seriously,” World Athletics President Seb Coe said in a press release. “We have consistently tried to separate the clean athletes from a tainted system, which is why we have reinstated the ANA [Authorized Neutral Athlete] process for athletes from Russia. … Clearly the previous measures were not enough to change the culture in Russian athletics. We hope this further measure will be sufficient to provoke real change.”

Vetted Russian athletes have been allowed to compete as neutrals — not under the Russian flag — at major competitions dating to the Rio Olympics.

One Russian track and field athlete was approved to compete as a neutral in Rio — long jumper Darya Klishina, who had been based in Florida for years and met a requirement of being subject to adequate anti-doping systems outside Russia.

In 2017, 19 Russians were entered at the world championships. In 2019, 30 Russians were entered at worlds, earning six medals, led by gold medalists high jumper Mariya Lasitskene and pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova.

In December, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from major international competition for four years, including the 2020 and 2022 Olympics, while allowing athletes to be eligible to compete as neutrals. Russia’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is ongoing.

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Alysa Liu near medal position after junior figure skating worlds short program

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Alysa Liu, the 14-year-old, two-time U.S. senior champion figure skater, is in fourth place after the world junior championships short program.

Liu, the world’s third-ranked junior skater this season, landed a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination to highlight her skate in Tallinn, Estonia, but was dinged for an under-rotation and negative grade of execution.

Russian Kamila Valiyeva led with 74.92 points, followed by South Korean Haein Lee (70.08) and Russian Daria Usacheva (68.45). Liu tallied 67.52 as the only woman in the field to attempt a triple Axel, the most difficult jump that can be scored in a women’s short program.

The free skate is Saturday, streamed on the International Skating Union YouTube channel.

Liu is making her junior worlds debut. She will not be old enough for senior worlds until the 2022 Olympic season.

Liu nearly went perfect in the fall Junior Grand Prix season, taking two golds and then a silver at the Junior Grand Prix Final behind Valiyeva.

She attempted a historic set of jumps in the Junior Grand Prix Final free skate — two triple Axels and two quadruple Lutzes. Quads are allowed in women’s free skates but not the short program. She fell on the first Axel, and the other three landings were judged as under-rotated.

Last year, Ting Cui became the first U.S. woman to earn a junior worlds medal (bronze) since Gracie Gold‘s silver in 2012. The last U.S. woman to win a junior worlds was Rachael Flatt in 2008. Since, Russians won nine of the 11 crowns.

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As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.