(NEW YORK) -- Just days before the US Olympic Track Trials begin, Shelby Houlihan, the American record holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 meter runs, has announced on Instagram the World Anti-Doping Agency has banned her for four years because of a positive test for the anabolic steroid called Nandrolone.
In the post, the 2016 Olympian says she was notified on January 14 from the Athletics Integrity Unit, an independent body created by World Athletics that manages integrity issues in the sport, that a sample she provided on December 15, 2020, came back as an "adverse analytical finding" for the steroid and she was subject to an immediate provincial suspension.
Houlihan said she had never heard of the drug and subsequently found out from WADA eating pork can lead to a false positive since certain types of pigs have a naturally high level of nandrolone.
"In the following 5 days after being notified, I put together a food log of everything that I consumed the week of that December 15th test," she wrote. "We concluded that the most likely explanation was a burrito purchased and consumed approximately 10 hours before that drug test from an authentic Mexican food truck that serves pig offal near my house in Beaverton, Oregon."
She says despite studies showing her levels were consistent with subjects who tested positive in the same time frame and WADA guidelines requiring the lab to consider it, the lab that was used never considered the possibility.
Houlihan detailed that she spoke with experts, took a polygraph test, and sent in a hair sample to a top toxicologist to prove her innocence.
"WADA agreed that test proved that there was no build-up of this substance in my body, which there would have been if I were taking it regularly," she wrote.
Houlihan appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration citing her evidence, but on June 11 her explanation was not accepted and she was suspended for four years.
"I feel completely devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused and betrayed by the very sport that I’ve loved and poured myself into just to see how good I was," she wrote.
(NEW YORK) -- Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Monday.
It is the third time Gobert has won the award in the past four years. He was named to the All-NBA Defensive first-team for the fifth straight year.
Both he and Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons were unanimous selections with each receiving 100 first-place votes. It is Simmon's second straight year being named to the first team.
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, and Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo round out the first team.
Antetokounmpo, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, was named to the first team for the third consecutive year.
The second-team All-NBA Defensive team is led by Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo and guard Jimmy Butler. 76ers center Joel Embiid and guard Matisse Thybulle, and LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard also made the team.
It is the seventh time Leonard was named to an All-NBA defensive team and the fifth time for Butler.
(MIAMI) -- Jerome Baker is staying put with the Miami Dolphins for three more years.
The team announced on Sunday that it has extended the 24-year-old linebacker’s contract through the 2024 season.
While the Dolphins did not disclose the terms of the deal, Baker’s agent told ESPN the extension is worth $39 million, including $28.4 million guaranteed.
Baker was selected by Miami in the 2018 NFL Draft as a third-round pick. Since joining the team, he has appeared in 48 games, starting in 37 of them, and has amassed 311 career tackles, 11.5 sacks, two interceptions, 10 passes defensed and four forced fumbles.
(TOKYO) — With the postponed Tokyo Olympics set to kick off next month, it's still unclear if any fans will be in attendance to cheer on the elite athletes.
The Tokyo Olympics organizing committee has already ruled that spectators from abroad won't be allowed "due to the prevailing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic," including the emergence of more contagious variants.
The committee, which has expressed a desire to bring people together for the games safely, has yet to make an announcement about local fans. Tokyo is under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic until June 20. After being delayed for a year, the Summer Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 to Aug. 8.
Tournaments and leagues across the globe have been slowly welcoming back fans, often at reduced capacity, in recent months. The 2020 Games will feature over 300 events representing 33 different sports. For the elite athletes competing, the question of whether they'll be hosting fans is an important one.
"Fundamentally, my experience in coaching professional and college athletes is that any change to the performance environment causes some level of stress," Jonathan Fader, a psychologist who has worked for the New York Mets and New York Giants and a founder of the coaching practice SportStrata, told ABC News. "That change could be weather, that change could be a new coach, that change could be fans."
There haven't been studies done during the pandemic on elite athletes and their performance with or without fans, Sam Sommers, a psychology professor at Tufts University and co-author of "This Is Your Brain on Sports," told ABC News. But "we do know that the presence of other people is physiologically arousing, it makes our heart beat faster, it focuses our attention on what we're doing," he said.
"We do perform differently in front of other people than we do on our own," Sommers said. "There are research findings that suggest that performing in front of others can be a good thing when you're doing something that is familiar and that you're well-practiced in.”
Athletes themselves have talked about the difference with fans back in attendance. French tennis player Gael Monfils told ESPN that playing in front of a larger crowd at this year's French Open was "incredible."
"I could feel their energy. It definitely made me so happy. Cannot be happier than that," said Monfils, who reached the second round of the tournament. "I was missing the crowd."
For the home nation, there may also be benefits from an exuberant Olympics crowd. An analysis published in the Journal of Sports and Sciences in 2003 found that crowd noise can influence officials' decisions, resulting in a greater home advantage.
Whether or not fans in attendance matters could largely depend on the sport. The crowd at a professional baseball or basketball game is not the same as what you'd find in golf, for instance, Sommers said.
"I mean this with no disrespect, but your average archer or rower may not be used to performing in front of large groups, so the effects may be different," Sommers said. "You couldn't offer blanket across-the-board predictions, but there is evidence that suggests that the presence of a lot of people can change our performance."
Well-trained, seasoned athletes who typically compete in front of large, loud crowds are likely to train for those conditions to tune out any distractions, Fader said.
"What we know is that it helps, usually, to train under the same circumstances that we're gonna perform," Fader said. "What a lot of people do is they'll actually bring in crowd noise. [NFL football coaches] will train players in the cold if they know they're gonna play in the cold."
While some athletes may thrive off the energy of fans, there could be benefits to having no crowds in attendance, Fader said.
"There's less to focus on, and there's no one heckling you," he said.
A lack of a home crowd in particular could take the pressure off hometown athletes, one sports psychologist told Reuters ahead of the 2012 London Games.
At Fader's practice, which works with Olympic athletes, coaches help competitors deal with crowds in part through a mental practice called imagery.
"It helps you in terms of your ability to deal with crowd noise, or non-crowd noise, if you've mentally practiced that situation," Fader said.
Whether or not spectators are in attendance is part of a larger question about "not knowing what normal is anymore," Sommers said.
"This is a question not just about sports, it's for the whole world -- what's it going to be like in my college classrooms in the fall? What's it going to be like in restaurants? What does the future hold?" Sommers said. "All the stuff that we've learned over time is thrown into question. We're figuring it all out, sports is no different."
Danish soccer star Christian Eriksen has sent 'his greetings' to his teammates and has been reported to be in stable condition after collapsing on field during a Euro 2020 match Saturday, officials said.
The latest developments were announced by the Danish Football Association on Twitter early Sunday morning.
"This morning we have spoken to Christian Eriksen, who has sent his greetings to his teammates," the statement read. "His condition is stable and he continues to be hospitalised for further examination. The team and staff have received crisis assistance and will continue to be there for each other after yesterday's incident. We would like to thank everyone for the heartfelt greetings to Christian Eriksen from fans, players, the royal families from both Denmark and England international associations, clubs etc. We encourage everyone to send their greetings to the Danish FA, where we will make sure they are all passed on to Christian and his family.”
Eriksen, 29, a midfielder for Denmark's national team, had a medical emergency about 40 minutes into a match against Finland. His teammates surrounded him on the pitch while CPR was performed during a live broadcast.
Eriksen was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was stabilized, according to the Union of European Football Associations, which organizes the international men's soccer championship.
He was awake and awaiting further examination at the hospital, the Danish Football Association said in a statement about 30 minutes after the incident.
The match has been suspended due to a medical emergency which involved Denmark’s Christian Eriksen. The player in now in hospital and in a stable condition.
UEFA wishes Christian Eriksen a full and speedy recovery and wishes to thank both teams for their exemplary attitude.
Officials suspended the game, which was held in Copenhagen on the second day of the tournament, before UEFA agreed to resume play at 8:30 p.m. local time "following the request made by players of both teams.”
The last four minutes of the first half were played, followed by a five-minute break before the second half started. Joel Pohjanpalo scored the game's only goal, in the 59th minute, to give Finland a 1-0 victory despite Denmark dominating possession with 70%.
"UEFA wishes Christian Eriksen a full and speedy recovery and wishes to thank both teams for their exemplary attitude," the association said on social media.
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin also released a statement wishing for a "full and speedy recovery."
"Moments like this put everything in life into perspective," Čeferin said. "At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong and he and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone. I heard of fans of both teams chanting his name. Football is beautiful and Christian plays it beautifully."
The men's football championship, held every four years, was delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament runs June 11 to July 11, with matches in 11 cities in 11 countries.
(COPENHAGEN) -- Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed during the 43rd minute of Denmark's opening game of the Euro 2020 tournament against Finland on Saturday. Medics ran onto the field shortly after and gave Eriksen CPR.
In a tweet, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) said that Eriksen has been transported to the hospital and has been stabilized.
Following the medical emergency involving Denmark’s player Christian Eriksen, a crisis meeting has taken place with both teams and match officials and further information will be communicated at 19:45 CET.
The player has been transferred to the hospital and has been stabilised.
(NEW YORK) -- The NBA announced on Friday its five finalists for the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award.
The contenders are: Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and Golden State Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson.
The new award, which will be handed out annually, is named after Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and "recognizes a current NBA player for pursuing social justice and advancing Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systemically disadvantaged," the league said.
“I’m honored and grateful to be associated with this award that will recognize the dedicated and selfless people fighting to promote social justice for all marginalized people,” Abdul-Jabbar said in an earlier press release announcing the creation of the award. “To me, it’s another giant step in the right direction for the country and all people who value equality.”
The five finalists were whittled down from a pool of 30 nominees and chosen by a selection committee that included Abdul-Jabbar, along with league executives and social justice leaders.
All five contenders for the award have chosen an organization focused on advancing social justice that will receive a donation on their behalf. The winner's organization will get $100,000 while the other four finalists' organizations get $25,000.
The winner of the award will be announced before the start of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
(NEW YORK) -- LeBron James’ uniform will reportedly look a bit different next season.
Citing a team source, ESPN reports the Los Angeles Lakers forward will go from wearing No. 23 on his uniform to No. 6 for the 2021-22 season.
James is no stranger to the number 6. He wore it while playing for Team USA and later during his time with the Miami Heat.
He had intended to switch back to No. 6 when the Lakers acquired forward Anthony Davis in 2019 but Nike was against the number exchange due to concerns that millions of dollars' worth of inventory would potentially be wasted, according to ESPN.
Davis, who wears No. 3 with the Lakers, wore No. 23 while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans, formerly known as the Hornets. The team source tells ESPN Davis will not be switching his uniform number once 23 becomes available.
(NEW YORK) -- Sources tell ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that the Indiana Pacers have fired head coach Nate Bjorkgren after one season. The team finished 9th in the Eastern Conference with a 34-38 record and missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons after losing to the Washington Wizards 142-115 in the play-in tournament.
Bjorkgren replaced current Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan after four seasons at the helm, previously serving as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors during their 2018 NBA Championship run. He broke into the NBA coaching ranks in 2015 with the Phoenix Suns after leading their G-League Affiliate team, the Bakersfield Jam, to a 34-16 record.
Sources tell ESPN Bjorkgren was told by the team on Wednesday he would not be returning for a second season after meeting with management on Tuesday.
Pacers have a roster that should be a solid Eastern Conference playoff team with Sabonis, Brogdon, LeVert, Turner and Warren -- and couldn't move forward with a young coach who struggled managing locker room and staff. Had Pacers been moving toward rebuild, maybe Bjorkgren stays. https://t.co/blXqxbzLiE
Pacers Head of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard was non-committal to the job security of Bjorkgren in May during a press conference at the end of their season. "I'm not committing either way," Pritchard said.
Indiana will have to renew their coaching search after interviewing almost 20 candidates for the vacancy last season before hiring Bjorkgren according to ESPN. The team is expected to look for candidates with more head coaching experience.
Bjorkgren had one guaranteed year left on his original three-year deal.
(PARIS) -- 17-year old Coco Gauff fell short at the French Open after losing 7-6 (6), 6-3 to unseeded Barbora Krejcikova in the quarter-final on Wednesday.
Gauff led early in the first set 3-0 but could not convert the five set points she held, allowing Krejcikova to comeback and take the last four points in the tiebreaker. In the second set, Krejcikova had no trouble and jumped out to a quick 5-0 advantage behind a dominating 15 straight points.
Krejcikov advances to the semifinals where she'll take on 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari on Thursday. In Sakkari's first ever match against Iga Swiatek, she ousted the defending champion 6-4, 6-4 in straight sets on Wednesday to set up the showdown.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will face Tamara Zidansek in the other semifinal slated for Thursday.
(NEW YORK) -- A former Olympian has been charged with defrauding the Small Business Administration over a pandemic loan.
Luka Klasinc, a Slovenian figure skater, competed in the men's singles event at the 1992 Winter Olympics. He finished 26th in the short program, and did not advance to the free skate. He was the national champion for three consecutive years from 1990 to 1992.
More recently he has owned BOB77, an event management company that stages ice-themed amusement parks around the world, including Fun Park in Warsaw, Poland; Ice Fun Park in Dusseldorf, Germany; and the Winter Classic in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Beginning last July, Klasinc's company received more than $1.5 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
When accounts that controlled the money started making suspicious wire transfers, Klasinc's bank froze the funds, according to the criminal complaint.
In an attempt to get the funds released, Klasinc wrote an email imploring the bank to "sincerely please, activate my account immediately," the complaint said.
The email included a letter on SBA letterhead dated Oct. 1, 2020, which purported to "verify" that the sum of $1,999,000 was payable to "Luka Klasinc of BOB77 LLC," as "payment for property investment only" and not as a "loan of any sort," the complaint said.
Federal prosecutors said they knew the letter was fake when they talked to the SBA employee whose signature appeared on it.
"Based on my conversation with the SBA Employee, I have learned that the SBA did not issue the Fraudulent SBA Letter, nor did the SBA Employee affix his signature or give his permission for his signature to be affixed to the Fraudulent SBA Letter," FBI special agent Ryan Redel wrote.
Klasinc was arrested before he was able to board a scheduled flight Monday from Newark, New Jersey, to Istanbul. He made an initial appearance on Tuesday, but did not enter a plea.
He is charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The bank fraud charge could carry a maximum of 30 years in jail.