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Positive virus tests knock Rahm, DeChambeau out of Olympics

Positive virus tests knock Rahm, DeChambeau out of Olympics

KAWAGOE, Japan — Positive COVID-19 tests knocked Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau out of the Olympic golf tournament Sunday, in a pair of surprises that reinforced the tenuous nature of holding a massive sports event during a global pandemic.Word of Rahm’s positive test came from the Spanish Olympic committee about four hours after USA Golf delivered the same news about DeChambeau.They are among the best-known of the some 11,000 athletes descending on Japan for the 17-day sports festival at which negative COVID tests — but not vaccinations — are required to participate.Spain’s Olympic federation explained that Rahm had two negative tests after leaving England, where he played in the British Open earlier this month. But a third test that was also required came back positive.The country said it would not seek to replace Rahm, leaving Adri Arnaus as its only player in the men’s tournament, which starts Thursday at Kasumigaseki Country Club outside of Tokyo.This is the second positive test for Rahm in fewer than two months. He was holding a six-shot lead after three rounds at the Memorial in early June when he was informed as he was coming of the course that he had tested positive and would have to withdraw.He came back two weeks later to win the U.S. Open and vault to No. 1 in the world. And now, Tokyo will be without the last two U.S. Open winners; DeChambeau won it at Winged Foot in 2020.After his win at Torrey Pines, Rahm said he was vaccinated when he tested positive at the Memorial, but still had to be quarantined because he had not been vaccinated for 14 days.“Looking back on it, yeah, I guess I wish I would have done it (vaccination) earlier,” Rahm said then. “But thinking on scheduling purposes and having the PGA and defending Memorial, to be honest it wasn’t in my mind.”Though not common, there have been people who catch COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. Likewise, there are rare examples of people getting re-infected.DeChambeau said he was “deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA.”“Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honor to make this team,” he said.He will be replaced by 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, who must go through COVID protocols Sunday and Monday in order to travel to Japan and be ready for the tournament later in the week.Reed found out after finishing his third round of the 3M Open on Saturday in Minnesota, where he immediately took one of his required three COVID-19 tests that each must be 24 hours apart. He was planning to start his flight to Japan on Tuesday and arrive Wednesday, which won’t leave him enough time for a practice round.“These days with how good yardage books are and with how much we have to kind of figure things out on the fly as it is, I expect to go in there and play well and be able to manage the golf course and hit the golf shots,” Reed said on Sunday, after shooting a 71 to finish at 6 under for the tournament.True to his “Captain America” nickname, Reed has long been more gung-ho about the Summer Games than many of his peers on the tour. He’s now the only two-time Olympian on the men’s side of the sport, which was reintroduced to the program in 2016. He shot 64 in the final round in Rio de Janeiro and finished 11th.“It feels like an obligation and a duty of mine to go out and play for our country whenever I can and whenever I get the call. To be able to call myself not just an Olympian but a two-time Olympian is pretty sweet,” Reed said.Reed will join Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele on the four-man U.S team. Reed had been third in line to be a replacement, behind Patrick Cantlay and Brooks Koepka.Koepka had previously sounded unenthused about the prospect of playing in the Olympics, saying the sport’s four majors, plus the Ryder Cup and other big events, give players plenty to strive for. The Ryder Cup this year is set for Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straits.DeChambeau had been looking to write a new chapter to his theatric 2021 season. It has included months of sparring with Koepka, a sudden break with his longtime caddie, and, most recently, a spat with his club sponsor when he said his driver “sucks” after struggling at the British Open.———AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Blaine, Minnesota, contributed to this report. ———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Playground goes big time; 3-on-3 hoops hits the Olympics

Playground goes big time; 3-on-3 hoops hits the Olympics

TOKYO — Anyone who’s ever jacked up a fadeaway 3 in a pickup basketball game knows there are two sure ways to start a fight on the playground.Talk trash about someone’s mom.Or call an offensive foul.In the debut of 3-on-3 halfcourt hoops at the Olympics on Saturday, Arvin Slagter of The Netherlands set a vicious pick on Dejan Majstorovic of Serbia that sent Majstorovic crumpling to the ground.A whistle blew. A referee wearing a slate-gray T-shirt and black shorts balled his hand into a fist, thrust out his arm and made the call that would get fists flying in a totally different way in a real street game. “Offense!” he shouted as he called the foul.Nobody argued. It was one of many signs that this Olympicized version of urban “streetball,” as the game’s higher-ups sometimes call it, is a bit different from whatever is going down on blacktops across America and the rest of the world.Different, yes — but to hear these players tell it, still pretty fun.“3-on-3 is basketball in a very intense way,” said Slagter’s teammate, Jessey Voorn. “But it is not streetball.”The Olympics like the idea of “streetball” because they’re doing everything they can to inject the busy summer program with sports that will attract a younger, more international audience. Skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and, three years from now in Paris, break dancing (The ‘80s called, they want their boom box back) are among the new sports also chosen to service this mission.In at least one way, 3-on-3 is fitting the bill perfectly. The game invented and perfected in the United States does not have a U.S. team on the men’s side of the eight-team Olympic bracket. It does have a women’s team from Mongolia.It does not have fans, at least not in Tokyo, where they are not allowed in because of the COVID-19 pandemic.It does have DJs. They were in the house all day, spinning records — Daft Punk, Kanye West and more — for the empty stands that, someday, will be full again.The games take place on a gray court situated under a cone-shaped canopy that covers the middle of an arena built to seat 7,100. Even in the shade, the heat index cracked 90 degrees (32 Celsius) on a sweltering afternoon near Tokyo Bay.“I’ve said they call it ‘streetball’ only because of the environment,” said USA center Stefanie Dolson, a former UConn star who was the sixth pick in the 2014 WNBA draft.“They have music playing. There’s a commentator on the sound system saying ”Big Mama Stef!’ You’re outside and the weather can play a factor. It’s streetball in that way.”The Olympic version is like the pickup game in this way, too: 3s from behind the arc are worth 2 points and 2s from inside are worth 1, and teams have to clear the ball past the arc after a rebound. The first team to 21 wins, but to keep things moving, if nobody hits that number in 10 minutes, whoever is ahead wins the game. Six of the first 12 games on Day 1 ended that way.A few minutes after the hard offensive foul, Serbia closed out a bruising 16-15 win over The Netherlands. Hard defense in a 3-on-3 game? That’s another difference from your typical playground shooting fest.The man who makes the Serbs go is the world’s top-ranked player, Dusan Bulut. “The Bullet” scored 4 points and had three “highlights” — an official stat that combines ‘key assists,’ drives, dunks, blocked shots and buzzer beaters — in Serbia’s win.“It’s not just a game and it’s not just a sport,” said Bulut, a 35-year-old who grew up playing in the streets of Novi Sad. “It’s usually a place where people socialize and just go in and be on a sweet court and play ball or hang out with friends. It’s a way of life for us.”That way of life has been slowly changing. But if the billion-dollar business of the Olympics has jaded any of these players, it wasn’t apparent on Day 1 of this version of the game’s welcome to the big stage.“I started playing 3-on-3 last September because of the Olympics,” Voorn said. “I underestimated it, to be honest.”It is, he said, more physical, much faster and far more organized than any pickup game on the street.As if to cement the idea that the sport really has reached the big-time, when the U.S. women, who DID make the tournament, played France on Saturday night, they had French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. First Lady Jill Biden watching from the virtually empty stands.“She brought all the energy,” the USA’s Kelsey Plum said of Biden. “We asked her to come back.”Not for their next game, though. In another unique twist not seen in the traditional 5-on-5 version, the 3-on-3 teams often play multiple games in a single day. Only a few hours after the U.S. beat France 17-10, Biden had moved on, while Dolson and Co., came back and wiped out Mongolia 21-9 in a contest that wrapped up in a tidy 13 minutes (in real time).It could have been even quicker.But twice a game, the referee blows the whistle, forms a T with his hand and his forefinger, then winds his finger in a circle to pretend as though he’s cranking a film projector.Turns out, not even the Olympic playground can avoid the dreaded TV timeout.Welcome to the big time, 3-on-3.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

At least 100 US athletes unvaccinated as Olympics begin

At least 100 US athletes unvaccinated as Olympics begin

About 100 of the 613 U.S. athletes descending on Tokyo for the Olympics are unvaccinated, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s medical chief said hours before Friday night’s Opening CeremonyBy EDDIE PELLS AP National WriterJuly 23, 2021, 7:45 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — About 100 of the 613 U.S. athletes descending on Tokyo for the Olympics are unvaccinated, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s medical chief said hours before Friday night’s opening ceremony.Medical director Jonathan Finnoff said 567 of the American athletes had filled out their health histories as they prepared for the trip, and estimated 83% had replied they were vaccinated.“Eighty-three percent is actually a substantial number and we’re quite happy with it,” Finnoff said.Nationally, 56.3% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The IOC has estimated around 85% of residents of the Olympic Village are vaccinated; that’s based that on what each country’s Olympic committee reports but is not an independently verified number.The USOPC figure is more solid — based on questionnaires athletes were asked to fill out before they came to Japan. Finnoff said the committee is not differentiating its treatment of athletes based on whether they’re vaccinated.“The best thing to do is to assume everyone’s at risk, and reduce risk by introducing COVID mitigation measures that we know work,” he said.So far, two American athletes — beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb and Kara Eaker, an alternate on the gymnastics team — are known to have tested positive. The IOC has reported 13 positives among all athletes in Japan.The vaccination rate was the biggest news to come out of an hourlong Q&A with USOPC leadership — a far different affair from the last pre-Olympic news conference. That one, at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, was dominated by talk of the federation’s handling of sex-abuse cases in the wake of the trial of former team doctor Larry Nassar.The USOPC leadership has almost completely turned over since then.Susanne Lyons is the new chair, Sarah Hirshland is the new CEO and Rick Adams is the new chief of sport performance.Part of the USOPC’s reboot involved deemphasizing the quest for medals and focusing more on athlete health and welfare. The U.S. has led the medals table at every Summer Games since 1996, the Olympics after the old Soviet team disbanded.But Hirshland is well aware that her performance, and the team’s, will still be judged at some level on medals.“Is the U.S. coming here hoping to win a lot of medals? You bet we are,” Hirshland said.All expectations, however, are tempered by the reality that a COVID outbreak could turn plans upside down.“Athletes have adjusted to being comfortable being uncomfortable,” Adams said,. “They’ve been experiencing it, and over the next 17 days, the expectation is to set expectations around things that could change.”———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Smith, Carlos, Berry demand change in Olympic protest rule

Smith, Carlos, Berry demand change in Olympic protest rule

Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Gwen Berry are among the more than 150 educators, activists and athletes who signed a letter Thursday urging the IOC not to punish participants who demonstrate at the Tokyo GamesBy EDDIE PELLS AP National WriterJuly 22, 2021, 9:16 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Gwen Berry are among the more than 150 athletes, educators and activists who signed a letter Thursday urging the IOC not to punish participants who demonstrate at the Tokyo Games.The five-page letter, published on the eve of the Olympics, asks the IOC not to sanction athletes for kneeling or raising a fist, the way Smith and Carlos did at the 1968 Mexico City Games.Berry, the American hammer thrower who triggered much of this debate, has said she intends to use her Olympic platform to point out racial inequality in the United States. She turned away from the flag when the national anthem played while she was on the medals stand at the Olympic trials last month.The IOC has made changes to its Rule 50 that bans political demonstrations at the Games, and has said it will allow them on the field, so long as they come before the start of action. Players from five Olympic soccer teams took to their knees Wednesday before their games on the opening night for that sport.But the IOC did not lift the prohibition on medals-stand demonstrations, and has left some of the decision-making about punishment up to individual sports federations.“We do not believe the changes made reflect a commitment to freedom of expression as a fundamental human right nor to racial and social justice in global sports,” said the letter, which was posted on the website of the Muhammad Ali Center and also signed by Ali’s daughter, four-time boxing world champion Lalia Ali.The letter disputed the IOC’s long-held position that the Olympics should remain neutral, arguing that “neutrality is never neutral.”“Staying neutral means staying silent, and staying silent means supporting ongoing injustice,” it said.Th letter also took issue with an athlete survey conducted by the IOC athletes’ commission that found widespread support for Rule 50. The commission cited the survey as a central reason for making the recommendation to largely keep the rule intact.”The report provides no information on racial/ethnic demographics or insights into the research instrument used and steps taken to strengthen the validity and trustworthiness of the data,” the letter said.The largest cross-section of the 3,547 athletes surveyed came from China (14%), where protests were overwhelmingly frowned upon by those who answered the questions. U.S. athletes were the second-largest contingent to answer (7%), followed by athletes from Japan (6%).Among the others to sign the letter were fencer Race Imboden, who, along with Berry, was placed on probation by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee for demonstrating on the medals stand at the Pan American Games in 2019. The USOPC later changed its stance and will not sanction athletes who protest in Tokyo.Also signing was Harry Edwards, the longtime activist who organized the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which led to the gestures in Mexico City by Smith and Carlos.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Dirty Games? Testing slowdown during COVID raises questions

Dirty Games? Testing slowdown during COVID raises questions

TOKYO — The low numbers came in from across the globe and covered most every distance, from 100 meters through the marathon. The reasons behind all the improving times throughout the sport of track and field were every bit as diverse: better shoe technology, better running surfaces, less wear and tear on bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic and just a good old-fashioned itch to start running for real again.Another possibility: For the better part of three months during the pandemic, testing for performance-enhancing drugs came to a virtual standstill worldwide. Only in recent months has it begun to ramp back to normal.It’s one of the uncomfortable realities of the Tokyo Olympics. Not a single one of the approximately 11,000 athletes competing over the next 17 days has been held to the highest standards of the world anti-doping code over the critical 16-month period leading into the Games.Statistics provided by the World Anti-Doping Agency pointed to a steadily improving situation as the Olympics approached, but they do not mask the reality that over the entirety of 2020, there was a 45% reduction in testing around the world compared with 2019 — a non-Olympic year in which the numbers wouldn’t normally be as high anyway. In the first quarter of 2021, there was roughly a 20% reduction in overall testing compared with the same three months of 2019.“Unless you’re a fool, you’d have to be concerned,” said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.The thought of simply abandoning testing for any period of time runs counter to one of the central tenets of the anti-doping system — the prospect that any athlete can be tested anywhere and at any time.The uncertainties and danger presented by the coronavirus, especially during the opening months of the pandemic, resulted not only in the suspensions of leagues across the world and eventually the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics themselves but to the virtual halt of the drug-testing programs that are designed to reinforce the competitive balance in sports.In April and May 2020, while business as usual was shut down in nearly every aspect around the globe, WADA reported a total of 3,203 tests. There were 52,365 during those months in 2019.USADA, along with anti-doping agencies in Norway and Denmark, were among the agencies that tried to bridge the gap. They started pilot programs in which they sent in-home drug tests to athletes, asking them to give urine samples and small dried blood samples while collection agents looked on via Zoom. But those programs, while notable for their ingenuity, covered only a small fraction of athletes in a small segment of the globe.“We would be naïve to think that there were no people who sought to take advantage of this lull to break the anti-doping rules,” WADA director general Oliver Niggli told The Associated Press. “However, there are a number of factors that mitigate that risk.”Among them, according to Niggli:— The requirement that athletes submit their whereabouts remained fully in force during the entirety of the pandemic, which at least raised the possibility of a test even in times when they weren’t being conducted frequently.— Most effective doping programs work in conjunction with intensive training and a target competition in site; many training centers were closed and sporting events were canceled during large portions of the pandemic.— The anti-doping system has other deterrents, including long-term sample storage, investigations and athlete biological passports, all of which can lead to positive findings over time.— Though the most attention goes to those who violate anti-doping protocols, the vast majority of athletes don’t break the rules.Still, some athletes were well aware of the breaks in testing and said it was hard to simply ignore.“That’s always a concern for an athlete,” said American steeplechaser Emma Coburn, who won bronze in Rio de Janeiro.The concern lies outside of running, as well.“I would definitely say some of the countries that have not been as trusted are probably taking advantage of the time that they had without testing,” said swimmer Lilly King, who has been outspoken about the long shadow that doping casts in her sport. “Personally, I know I have been tested over 20 times in the past year, so I know the Americans are being well taken care of and myself especially.”USADA is among the few anti-doping agencies that lists the number of tests given to each athlete, and Edwin Moses, the two-time Olympic champion in the 400-meter hurdles and chairman emeritus of USADA, is among those who believe WADA and others should strive for the same transparency.“Without transparency to the testing numbers, we have to ask if these Games will be clean, as the IOC promises,” Moses said in anti-doping testimony to Congress this week.The independent observers that WADA assigned to review testing protocols before the 2016 Rio Games found that of the 11,470 entrants, 4,125 had no record of being tested before those Olympics, and 1,913 of those athletes competed in higher risk sports. It was, the observers wrote, a data set “which highlights the (in)adequacy of test distribution planning by IFs and NADOs in these sports.”“You were starting in a totally unacceptable place for athletes who were being held to the highest standards, and the badness has only potentially gotten worse because of the reductions in testing due to COVID,” Tygart said.Despite that, there are several plausible explanations for the wide swath of personal bests, national and NCAA records, and world records that spread across track and field over the past year-plus.Among the possibilities spelled out in a recent Runners’ World story were ideal racing conditions that in some instances included time trials, where runners run alone and against the clock, so as to avoid person-to-person contact that can occur in crowded conditions.There were the much-debated benefits of shoes, the technology for which has improved both for long-distance runners and sprinters. And then there were the possible benefits of long stretches of training uninterrupted by the demands of an athletic schedule that calls for peaking at precisely the right times.By the time that story was printed in February, there were no fewer than a dozen examples of eye-opening times that had been produced during the pandemic, in and around a time when the sport had shut down normal operations. The trend continued through the spring and has kept going as the Olympic season has neared — a period when more athletes might be expected to be maxing out their performance.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Olympic scandals march on long after torch goes out

Olympic scandals march on long after torch goes out

From doping, to demonstrations to dirty officials, the Olympics have never lacked their share of off-the-field scandals that keep the Games in the headlines long after the torch goes outBy EDDIE PELLS AP National WriterJuly 22, 2021, 7:28 AM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — From doping, to demonstrations to dirty officials, the Olympics have never lacked their share of off-the-field scandals and controversies that keep the Games in the headlines long after the torch goes out. The five-year gap since the last Summer Olympics has been no different. A brief look at some of the most notable news to hit the Olympic world since it last convened for the Summer Games.SEX ABUSE — Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of hundreds of gymnasts in the U.S. opened a window into an abusive culture that permeates throughout the sport, and in all corners of the globe. Since Rio, the U.S. Safesport Center opened to investigate complaints about abuse in sports. It took the decision-making process of these cases out of the hands of organizations such as USA Gymnastics, which for years had been forced to pit members (gymnasts) against members (coaches) when abuse allegations arose. Other abuse allegations in taekwondo, water polo and figure skating were among those that came to light in the United States, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee rewrote its own by-laws to, in part, prioritize the mental and physical well-being of its athletes instead of the chase for Olympic medals.RUSSIA DOPING — In Rio, the IOC rejected a World Anti-Doping Agency recommendation to ban all Russian competitors from the Olympics, as punishment for a wide-ranging doping scheme the country designed to help its athletes dope without getting caught. As a result, around 270 Russians were permitted to compete in 2016. Possibly emboldened by the IOC move, Russia continued to cover up its misdeeds. In 2019, WADA investigators determined that Russia had manipulated 23 gigabytes of data that could have been used to pursue cases related to the original cheating. WADA suggested a four-year ban with heavy restrictions on which Russians could compete but the Court of Arbitration for Sport watered it down. The end result: Some 335 Russian athletes will compete in Tokyo, though not wearing team uniforms and not under the Russian flag. They will be officially competing as members of the “ROC” — Russian Olympic Committee. Only 10 of those athletes will be in track and field; that sport’s governing body, whose former leaders enabled some of the cheating (see below), has since taken a much harder stance on the Russia case than most.DOPING RULES — A spotlight shined on anti-doping rules that call on athletes to submit their whereabouts so they can be subjected to testing without notice. Reigning Olympic champions Christian Coleman and Brianna McNeal and world champion Salwa Eid Naser are among those missing the Olympics after being banned for violations of this rule. … And only weeks before the start of the Olympics, the ban of American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson for a positive marijuana test fueled a debate about whether that drug — not considered a performance enhancer and now legal in some parts of the globe — should be forbidden anymore.WEIGHTLIFTING — Three of weightlifting’s longtime leaders were charged with a number of offenses for a decade’s worth of doping cover-ups and other crimes. The misconduct included 146 unresolved doping cases from 2009 through 2019. International federation’s president, Tamás Aján, was ousted after a German documentary exposed the misdeeds. Weightlifting’s status for 2024 is in jeopardy; the IOC is calling for reforms and wants to see the sport cleaned up.DEMONSTRATIONS — A summer of unrest and activism in the United States in 2020 forced the IOC and the USOPC to reckon with their policies on demonstrations at the Olympics. The USOPC, after months of meetings and negotiations, determined it would not sanction its athletes for violating Rule 50, which has long disallowed protests and demonstrations inside the lines. Though the IOC recently relaxed the rule to allow some forms of demonstration near the starting line, the ban on the medals podium remains, setting up what could be a conflict at the Olympics.SPORTS GOVERNANCE — The IOC stripped the International Boxing Association’s Olympic status in the wake of an investigation in which the U.S. Treasury accused the organization’s president of involvement in drug production and heroin trafficking. … Influential Kuwaiti IOC member Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah is awaiting trial on a forgery charge linked to an alleged coup attempt. … The former president of track’s governing body, Lamine Diack, and other top officials were found guilty of corruption for covering up cases in the Russian doping scandal in exchange for bribes. … Swimming’s international federation (FINA) has been under the microscope for a number of reasons, including electing a leader who was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a bribery case involving soccer’s top body. FINA was also criticized for not coming down harshly enough on Chinese Olympic champion Sun Yang, whose own doping/testing case meandered through the sports legal system for several years; Yang will miss Tokyo but be eligible for the Paris Games in 2024.———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics

Seeking reform, US holds $1.3 million in dues from WADA

Seeking reform, US holds $1.3 million in dues from WADA

The U.S. government will hold onto nearly half of the $2.93 million in dues it owes to the World Anti-Doping Agency while it waits to see how the global drug-fighting agency moves forward with reforming its governing structureBy EDDIE PELLS AP National WriterJuly 22, 2021, 6:29 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — The U.S. government will hold onto nearly half of the $2.93 million in dues it owes to the World Anti-Doping Agency while it waits to see how the global drug-fighting agency moves forward with reforming its governing structure.Richard Baum of the White House drug control office told a congressional committee Wednesday that a $1.6 million payment to WADA would be made soon, but that in breaking with past practice, the full sum would not be delivered all at once.“We believe half the payment is appropriate,” Baum said. “There have been some good conversations in WADA about reform, but we still believe that in order to be comfortable with making the full payment, we’d like to see additional steps forward.”The news, delivered at a hearing in Washington to provide updates on a recently passed law to criminalize international doping schemes, was the latest in a yearlong tussle between WADA and the U.S. government. The government has criticized the agency for not moving urgently enough to reform itself in the wake of the Russian doping scandal. The government has issued reports complaining the U.S. does not get its money’s worth out of its contribution to WADA and does not have a large enough decision-making role in the worldwide agency.The $2.93 million accounts for about 7.3% of WADA’s $40 million budget; the U.S. normally delivers the entire amount in the first quarter of the year.After the U.S. first threatened to withhold dues last summer, WADA responded by suggesting it might sanction countries that do not pay dues. Congress then gave the White House office authority to withhold payment.Baum said the government has had some “good conversations” with WADA “but we still believe that in order to be comfortable with making the full payment, we’d like to see additional steps forward.”WADA has been progressing with a series of reforms that would increase athlete representation on some of its decision-making boards, while also calling for higher levels of transparency.“In collaboration with all of our diverse stakeholders, including the U.S. Government, WADA will continue to make meaningful improvements to ensure the Agency’s governance evolves in line with its role and with the global fight against doping in sport in general,” WADA spokesman James Fitzgerald said in a statement. “We are confident that the U.S. Government will ultimately accept the outcomes of this democratic and collaborative process.”The U.S. and other critics say WADA’s reforms don’t go far enough. They want a more thorough break between WADA and the IOC, which have members who sit on both agencies who can have conflicts of interest.———https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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