TSX REPORT: IOC adds 14 “neutrals” for Paris, including tennis stars; LA28 challenges for a temporary track; new 2021 Chinese doping details

A cross-section of the temporary conversion project to install a track for the 2028 Olympic Games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Image: LA28)

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1. IOC invites tennis stars among 14 new “neutrals” for Paris 2024
2. LA28 shares elements of Coliseum track construction plan
3. Asian Boxing Confederation voting on move to World Boxing
4. ARD says Chinese swimmers may not have been in same hotel
5. Constien and Allman post spectacular wins at T&F Trials

● The International Olympic Committee invited 14 new “neutrals” from Russia and Belarus to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Russia received eight invitations – four men and four women – in tennis, while Belarus got invitations for women’s stars Aryna Sabalenka (who said she will skip Paris) and Victoria Azarenka.

● LA28 shared a rendering of the temporary track to be put into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, building off the successful installation first achieved in Glasgow, Scotland for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Check out the time-lapse video from 2014!

● The Asian Boxing Confederation called a special vote for 31 August to leave for World Boxing and try to maintain boxing on the 2028 Olympic program. If passed, it could be the first step toward shattering the International Boxing Association and consolidating support for World Boxing as the sport’s new international federation.

● The German ARD doping reporting unit added some details on what happened with the Chinese swimmers who tested positive for Trimetazidine in January 2021. Plus a comment on the reality of these doping results and a no-win situation for World Anti-Doping Agency.

● At the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Oregon, two spectacular finals saw Tokyo Olympic women’s discus champ Valarie Allman dominate again, winning by more than 25 feet. A fast women’s Steeplechase final had Val Constien moving to no. 3 on the 2024 world list in 9:03.22 as the top nine finishers got lifetime bests! A raft of qualifying saw stars Grant Holloway, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Rai Benjamin, Sha’Carri Richardson, Noah Lyles and Tara Davis-Woodhall all move on easily.

Panorama: Paris 2024 (Paralympics pass million tickets sold) = Int’l Federations (seven IFs have annual income of less than $4 million, five have more than $50 million) = Anti-Doping (ITA reports 40,200+ samples in 2023 and 485 possible positives) = Athletics (Josh Kerr signs with Grand Slam Track) = Cycling (111th Tour de France starts Saturday) = Football (Panama stuns U.S. in crazy Copa America match) = Gymnastics (2: U.S artistic trials on in Minneapolis; Padilla and Webster win Trampoline national titles) = Volleyball (men’s Nations League finals in Lodz) = Wrestling (Bey invited to Paris after Russian re-allocation) ●

IOC invites tennis stars among 14 new “neutrals” for Paris 2024

In its second release of invitations to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee’s Individual Neutral Athlete Eligibility Review Panel has added 14 invitations to Russian and Belarusian athletes, including several major tennis stars. The new invitations, as of 27 June:

Modern Pentathlon (27 June for 2 quota places):
● 2 for Belarus (none invited)

Rowing (27 June for 2 places):
● 2 for Belarus (2 invited)

Shooting (27 June for 3 places):
● 3 for Belarus (2 invited)

Tennis (27 June for 10 places):
● 8 for Russia (8 invited)
● 2 for Belarus (2 invited)

So, of the 17 quota places available for Russian and Belarusian athletes, invitations were made to 14: eight tennis players from Russia and six Belarusian athletes across three sports.

For the record, on 15 June, the IOC invited 25 athletes who have been cleared by the group for Paris, in five sports:

Cycling/road (15 June for 4 quota places):
● 3 for Russia (3 invited: 2 accepted, one declined, new invite made)
● 1 for Belarus (1 invited: accepted)

Gymnastics/trampoline (15 June for 3 places):
● 1 for Russia (1 invited: accepted)
● 2 for Belarus (2 invited: accepted)

Taekwondo (15 June for 5 places):
● 4 for Russia (none invited)
● 1 for Belarus (none invited)

Weightlifting (15 June for 4 places):
● 4 for Belarus (2 invited: accepted)

Wrestling (15 June for 26 places):
● 16 for Russia (10 invited: 9 accepted)
● 10 for Belarus (6 invited: 1 accepted)

The totals now:

● 59 quota places total across 9 sports
● 39 invitations: 22 Russians and 17 Belarusians
● 18 acceptances so far: 12 Russians and 6 Belarusians

So, there are 12 Russian acceptances to come to Paris as “neutrals” and invitations open to another nine. There are six Belarusian acceptances and invitations to another six.

The major new invitations were in tennis, where multiple stars were accepted (world rankings as of 24 June 2024):

● Daniil Medvedev (RUS): world no. 5, 2021 U.S. Open champ
● Andrey Rublev (RUS): world no. 6, 10-time Slam quarterfinalist
● Karen Kachanov (RUS): world no. 21
● Roman Safiullin (RUS): world no. 44

● Daria Kasatkina (RUS): world no. 14, 2022 French Open semifinalist
● Liudmila Samsonova (RUS): world no. 15,
● Ekaterina Aleksandrova (RUS): world no. 22
● Mirra Andreeva (RUS): world no. 23, 2024 French Open semifinalist

● Aryna Sabalenka (BLR): world no. 3, two-time Australian Open champ
● Victoria Azarenka (BLR): world no. 16, two-time Australian Open champ

Sabalenka has already announced that she will skip Paris to concentrate on recovery and the hard-court season coming after the Games. Russian Andreeva, 17, is one of the rising stars on tour, reaching the French Open semis this year.

The agreement to confirm tennis players for Paris was not surprising, as many players on tour – men and women – live and train in western countries where most of the tournaments are, and spend little or no time in Russia or Belarus.

The IOC’s eligibility group also extended one new invitation in cycling after Alexsandr Vlasov declined to participate, inviting road and track racer Gleb Syritsa in his place. No word yet on whether he will accept the invite.

The IOC has said that the Russian and Belarusian presence in Paris would be small. With the final entry deadline of 8 July approaching fast, there are 12 confirmed Russian “neutrals” and invitations to another nine; for Belarus, six are in and six more are invited.

LA28 shares elements of Coliseum track construction plan

A detailed story on Thursday by David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times described the significant effort that will be needed to install a temporary track inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

As noted in Wednesday’s TSX post and in Wharton’s story, the floor of the Coliseum was lowered by 11 feet, eight inches at the insistence of the then-Los Angeles Raiders and the track removed, in 1993, with 8,100 seats in 14 rows installed and still there today. If you go to the Coliseum and look closely, you can see where the angle of the seating changes close to the field; that’s the level where the original floor level of the Coliseum was.

That will have to be reversed for 2028 and the LA28 organizers benefit from history, as this kind of conversion has been successfully done previously, specifically for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

There, Hampden Park Stadium, used for football matches, was converted by removing eight rows of seating – about six-and-a-half-feet – in about six weeks and using 6,000 steel stilts weighting about 2,000 tons. About 1,000 panels were then installed on the stilts, with the track underlayer installed by mid-March and track surface installed on top of it and finished at the end of May. Capacity was reduced from 51,866 to 44,000 for the Commonwealth Games and a Diamond League meet was held as essentially a test event on 11-12 July.

The entire process was captured in a time-lapse video, now on YouTube:

The cost ran (in 2014 British pounds) to about €27 million and was begun in early December 2013, about the same time of year the LA28 folks will get their work started after the USC football season.

The Coliseum and the surrounding area present some other issues for the LA28 organizers. There is only the one, west-end tunnel to get onto the field and even with a final warm-up strip underneath the temporary track, the question of how the full warm-up and check-in will be accommodated.

In 1984, the warm-up field was the track at USC – now Allyson Felix Field at Loker Stadium – which was then secure as one of the Olympic Villages, and athletes were taken to the Los Angeles Swim Stadium for check-in and final warm-up, with a 60 m track strip installed for last-second preparations. The athletes then walked down the tunnel to the track.

That’s not going to be possible for 2028, since the Swim Stadium has now been identified for diving, and even if the diving competitions are not going on, training will be. Moreover, the former, spacious parking lot areas west of the Coliseum have disappeared as the new Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is being built, to open in 2025.

USC will not be an Olympic Village for 2028 – and not secured for athlete use – so questions will arise about using the track for warm-up. There are other solutions, such as Manual Arts High School across Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, or another temporary facility on the Exposition Park grounds, but these will have to be developed.

Another complication is the post-event protocol for the press and broadcast mixed zone, doping and medical treatment if needed. In 1984, an ancient tunnel – available in 1932 – in the middle of the south-side stands was used for athletes to walk from the field level to the concourse, which was secured for news media use and had doping, medical and transportation facilities at the end of it. That tunnel was available for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games; it may be needed again.

Thanks to Glasgow 2014, the conversion concept for the Coliseum has been proved, as has the use of an NFL stadium as a swimming venue, pioneered by USA Swimming’s just-completed use of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with seating for up to 30,000. There is little doubt that LA28 can sell even more than that with the placement of swimming in 2028 at SoFi Stadium.

Asian Boxing Confederation voting on move to World Boxing

A major breakthrough in the saga of boxing and the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles came on Wednesday, from the 42-member Asian Boxing Confederation:

“The management of the Asian Boxing Confederation decided to arrange an ASBC Extraordinary Congress in Abu Dhabi on August 31 in order to vote on joining World Boxing. The ASBC Extraordinary Congress will take place during the competition period of the ASBC Asian Junior & Schoolboys & Schoolgirls Boxing Championships.

“The International Olympic Committee withdraw (sic) the recognition of the International Boxing Association as the governing body for the Olympic boxing. The IOC’s derecognition of IBA, the Asian Boxing Confederation will consider aligning with World Boxing which is aiming for a recognition in the International Olympic Committee.”

Singapore just joined World Boxing, as has India, and the new federation has 33 members. A mass exodus by Asian federations to World Boxing would be a major step in creating a body that can grow into the organization desired by the International Olympic Committee to take over the governance of boxing for 2028 and beyond.

The International Boxing Association, as expected, is against such a move and in a Thursday statement wrote, “it is clear that the vast majority of members wish to remain in situ with our organization” and added:

“IBA would like to reiterate to its membership, not only across Asia but also the remaining four continents; never be pushed into something that does not concur with our current sporting work ethic. Under the current leadership of IBA, President Umar Kremlev [RUS] has given a tremendous amount to support both our National Federations and our athletes. Since its conception of prize money support, IBA has rolled almost 20 million USDs to support its medalists; we have managed a highly engaging and competitive calendar that has allowed our National Federations and respective boxers to plan the independent performance pathways to glory. …

“IBA will continue to support and will endeavor to contact all respective National Federations over the next few weeks in order to reiterate our firm stance and position.”

So the lobbying begins, but the fate of boxing for 2028 may well rest with what happens in Abu Dhabi on 31 August.

ARD says Chinese swimmers may not have been in same hotel

The German ARD Doping Editorial Team published some new details on Wednesday concerning the environment in which the 23 Chinese doping positives from a training camp program in January 2021 were found.

Specifically, it reported on information from an unnamed source from within China:

● “[N]ot all 23 swimmers were accommodated at the Huayang Holiday Hotel in early 2021, where the alleged contamination of the food with the doping agent trimetazidine, which was supposedly later discovered there, is said to have taken place. This is substantiated by chats from the Chinese swimming scene, which are available to the ARD Doping Editorial Team.”

● “This would mean that these athletes almost certainly could not have consumed food from the hotel’s kitchen and restaurant. This would collapse the argumentation of the Chinese authorities, who justified the positive tests of all 23 swimmers exclusively with the contamination of the food in the specified athletes’ hotel.”

● “The source also states that at least large parts of the Chinese national swimming team were repeatedly stationed in Beijing for longer periods of time in the weeks before the positive tests and trained together in the so-called National Sports Complex in the capital. The CHINADA report, on the other hand, had stated that the athletes had all been in their provinces in the weeks before the competition. Systematic doping by the national team was therefore ruled out.”

The ARD story takes pains to point out, however:

“ARD’s information comes from Chinese sources – verbal and written – who allegedly have direct access to those involved. This could not be verified beyond doubt. One source referred to the enormously high risk for whistleblowers in China and refused to provide ARD with direct contact to the swimmers and other Chinese whistleblowers due to security concerns.”

Moreover, it continues to be crucial to note ARD’s reporting that the investigation into the doping positives was made by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, not the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency. It was the Ministry of Public Security, ARD says, which provided the information on which the contamination theory was advance by CHINADA and eventually accepted by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Additional information points to many Chinese swimmers training together in the Beijing area for weeks prior to the January 2021 meet, which would contradict the assertion that the swimmers were not all in one place, which would be conducive to a mass doping scheme.

ARD pointed out that it “was unable to verify all of this information due to the restrictions in China.” But the circumstantial evidence is interesting and opens new questions.

Observed: Amid the charges and counter-charges flying between the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, there are some unspoken realpolitik issues that have to be considered. Based on what has come out, here’s one way to look at this in a realistic light:

(1) The 23 swimmers who tested positive from 1-3 January 2021 could very well have been part of a doping scheme to support star Chinese swimmers, using the heart medication Trimetazidine, the same drug that Russian teen skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for in December 2021.

(2) The Chinese anti-doping lab in Beijing did its job: it returned positive tests on 28 samples belonging to 23 swimmers on or about 15 March 2021. What happened from there is the problem. No one knows exactly.

(3) ARD says that the 23 swimmers were not informed of the positive tests, as is the required procedure. And, as USADA head Travis Tygart testified at Tuesday’s House sub-committee meeting, they were not immediately provisionally suspended by CHINADA, as Valieva was. Those are the rules.

(4) In a key development, ARD says that the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, not the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency, took over the investigation and provided CHINADA with the information for its report on 15 June 2021 that posited contaminated food as the reason for the positive tests. WADA received the case file on 21 June and decided not to appeal the CHINADA finding of contamination to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

So, if you are WADA, having to decide by 11 July 2021 – with the Tokyo Olympic Games starting, in the midst of the pandemic, on 26 July – you may well have come to the following conclusions:

● Any meaningful “investigation” of the positives on the ground in China would have been impossible. In mid-2021, the Covid pandemic was still in force and especially harsh measures had been undertaken in China, which continued well into 2022, including to the Olympic Winter Games the following February.

● Did China ever allow unfettered access to the infamous Wuhan lab where the coronavirus may have jumped into public contact? No. Would China have allowed access to the hotel kitchen where the contamination was alleged to have taken place? Almost certainly no.

● If access had been granted – and this was during its Covid response period – given the exhaustive cleaning procedures in place, would any trace of the trimetazidine have remained, especially six or more months after the incident? No, of course not … unless it was put there again for WADA to find it.

● Faced with these realities, WADA could well have concluded – as it did – that an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport would have been a sure loser. And so it did not appeal.

● The only way that the actual facts could be ascertained would be from witnesses, including the swimmers themselves and the coaches. Do we not remember the worries for the safety of former tennis star Peng Shuai, who had to recant her report of assault by a former Chinese Vice Premier? The latest ARD report underscored, “One source referred to the enormously high risk for whistleblowers in China and refused to provide ARD with direct contact to the swimmers and other Chinese whistleblowers due to security concerns.”

In short, WADA was placed in an impossible situation, with no good options. It decided not to pursue an appeal which was a sure loser, but at the same time, had no way to further inquire – in a meaningful way – about the facts of the case in a country sure to be hostile to more questions.

And so it went along with the CHINADA report. The report from former Swiss regional attorney general Eric Cottier should come next week, including an opinion on whether WADA should have filed a CAS appeal.

But in truth, there was no way WADA could find out what happened in pandemic-regulated China, just as no one knows for sure what happened in the Wuhan lab at the genesis of the Covid-19 pandemic. And that’s just reality.

Rich Perelman

Constien and Allman post spectacular wins at T&F Trials

The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials resumed in Eugene, Oregon after two off-days, with the big stars showing they are still on.

First to shine was Tokyo Olympic discus champion Valarie Allman, who dominated, with all five of her fair throws sufficient to easily win the competition. She reached a spectacular 70.73 m (232-0) on her final throw, the no. 3 performance in American history (she has the top 10 and more).

In the women’s Steeplechase final, Tokyo Olympian Val Constien broke away from the lead pack on the final lap, extended her advantage on the final water jump and gritted her teeth to the finish in 9:03.20, not only a lifetime best, but now the no. 3 performer in American history and no. 3 in the world for 2024.

Behind her and sudden candidates for medals in Paris were Courtney Wayment (9:06.50) and Marisa Howard (9:07.14). The top nine in the race all ran lifetime bests.

Those were the only finals, but the stars were out for qualifying. In the men’s 110 m hurdles, three-time World Champion Grant Holloway breezed through the first semifinal in 12.96, with Freddie Crittenden the closest at 13.05 in semi two.

In the men’s 400 m hurdles heats, Olympic silver winner Rai Benjamin cruised to a 49.56, nearly effortless win in his race, while NCAA champion Caleb Dean had the fastest first-round time of 49.45. In the women’s heats, world-record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone was easily the fastest in a relaxed 53.07. Anna Cockrell won heat three and had the next-best time at 54.71.

In the women’s 200 m, Sha’Carri Richardson ran a strong turn and moved easily down the straight to won heat one in a season’s best of 21.99, moving to no. 3 on the world list for 2024. Worlds silver winner Gabby Thomas won heat four in 22.11.

World Champion Noah Lyles led all qualifiers in the men’s 200 m with a relaxed 20.10 win in the second heat, with Erriyon Knighton – now cleared of a doping positive by an arbitrator for contamination – running his first race of the season and winning with a smooth 20.15.

Sam Whitmarsh had the fastest heat win in the men’s 800 m in 1:46.13, and Woody Kincaid out-sprinted Abdi Nur to the line in 13:23.91 to 13:24.14 to win heat one of the men’s 5,000 m in the fastest time of the day.

Elle St. Pierre, the 5,000 m winner, led all qualifiers in the women’s 1,500 m heats in 4:06.41. World leader Tara Davis-Woodhall led the women’s long jump qualifiers at 6.92 m (22-9), ahead of triple jump winner Jasmine Moore (6.92 m/22-8 1/2).

Friday’s events include a lot more qualifying and the men’s 110 m hurdles, with a world-record watch now on Holloway!


● Paralympic Games 2024: Paris ● Ticket sales for the 2024 Paralympic Games have reached the one million mark, with a total of 2.8 million tickets available.

The largest number of tickets sold so far is for athletics, and three sports have sold out: equestrian, triathlon and shooting.

● International Federations ● Interesting table from the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) governance survey report, about federations and annual revenue (CHF 1 = $1.11):

CHF <2 million: 2 in 2021, 0 in 2024
CHF 2-4 million: 6 in 2021, 7 in 2024
CHF 4-8 million: 6 in 2021, 8 in 2024
CHF 8-20 million: 7 in 2021, 5 in 2024
CHF 20-50 million: 7 in 2021, 7 in 2024
CHF >50 million: 5 in 2021, 5 in 2024

Translation: there are very few rich federations and most are just getting by, powered by the IOC’s television rights sales payments, made after each Games.

● Anti-Doping ● The International Testing Agency published highlights of its testing activities for 2023, with more than 40,200 samples collected from 15,000-plus athletes from 185 countries.

Of these samples – blood (70%) and urine (30%) – 54% were in out-of-competition settings; some 65% of the athletes tested were men. The total number of samples collected was 8.6% higher than in 2022.

The agency registered 485 potential anti-doping violations:

“Out of the 485 potential Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs), 168 led to sanctions, with 19 cases appealed or heard by a first-instance panel, while 119 are still under review. Additionally, 922 Whereabouts Failures (instances where athletes did not meet their obligation to provide timely or accurate whereabouts information for testing) were reviewed; 487 were recorded, 98 were referred to the respective National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) for results management, and 325 were not recorded after review.”

In terms of finances, ITA revenues rose to CHF 26.3 million, with a less of less than CHF 1.0 million.

● Athletics ● Grand Slam Track announced its second “Racer” signing, of British 1,500 m World Champion Josh Kerr. Kerr also won the World Indoor 3,000 m gold in 2024, and is the second signee, after U.S. 400 m hurdles star Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.

● Cycling ● The 111th Tour de France starts on Saturday, this time in Italy, with the “Grand Depart” in Florence, passing through Turin and crossing into France in the fourth stage.

The 21 racing days over more than three weeks have five of the seven mountain stages in the final eight:

● 8 flat stages
● 2 individual Time Trials
● 4 hilly stages
● 7 mountain stages

The drama is about the winners of the last four Tours, with two-time winner Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) recovered from injury from an April crash, but has not raced since 4 April. The 2020 and 2021 winner, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, won the Giro d’Italia in spectacular fashion and is, at worst, a co-favorite; he was second to Vingegaard in the last two tours.

Then there is the other Slovenian star, Primoz Roglic, a three-time winner of the Vuelta a Espana, and second in 2021. But he did not finish in the 2021 and 2022 Tours. Britain’s Adam Yates, the 2024 Tour de Suisse winner, was third in last year’s Tour and Portugal’s Joao Almeida was third at the 2023 Giro d’Italia.

Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel is best known as a one-day racer, but won the 2022 Vuelta a Espana.

● Football ● Thursday’s action at the 48th Copa America, being held in the U.S., was in Group C, with the U.S. (1-0) playing longtime CONCACAF rival Panama (0-1) in Atlanta and Uruguay (1–0) facing Bolivia (0-1) in East Rutherford.

The U.S.-Panama game was crazy from the start, with a fifth-minute goal by U.S. defender Weston McKennie disallowed for offsides. In the 18th, forward Tim Weah drew a red card on a forearm shiv to the head of defender Roderick Miller in the midfield area, forcing the U.S. to play the rest of the game with 10 men.

Then, striker Folarin Balogun gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the 22nd off an Antonee Robinson return pass to the left side of the goal, which Balogun slammed just inside the right-side post of the Panama goal.

But the game was tied after Panama midfielder Cesar Blackman’s shot was blocked in the 26th, but came right back to him and he scored on a rocket to the left side of the American goal. On the defensive, the U.S. had only 28% possession in the half and Panama led in shots, 7-3.

U.S. keeper Matt Turner was substituted for at the half with Ethan Horvath, as Turner suffered a leg injury during the first half collision in the 47th minute. Panama continued to press, and despite the occasional U.S. chance, the pressure was finally too much, In the 83rd, a loose ball on the right side of the field came to substitute midfielder Abdiel Ayarza, who sent a liner to the front of the U.S. goal, crushed by Jose Faqardo off of Horvath and into the net for a 2-1 lead.

Then it got crazier, as midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla kicked U.S. star Christian Pulisic’s legs out from under him from behind and got a red card to put both sides at 10 in the 88th. And the U.S. pressed, but could not get an equalizer and Panama claimed the 2-1 win, only their third in 27 meetings all-time with the U.S. Panama finished with a stunning 74% possession and a 13-6 edge on shots.

Uruguay crushed Bolivia, 5-0, with two first-half goals and then three late scores to go to 2-0, while Bolivia fell to 0-2. The third games in the group on 1 July will be needed to sort out who advances to the playoffs.

Group play continues through 2 July, with the quarterfinals beginning on 4 July.

● Gymnastics ● The U.S. Olympic Trials in Artistic Gymnastics started Thursday with the men’s qualifying at the Target Center in Minneapolis, with Worlds All-Around bronze medalist Fred Richard leading at 85.600, ahead of three-time national champ Brody Malone (85.100), Shane Wiskus (84.300), Paul Juda (84.150) and 2023 All-Around winner Asher Hong (83.700).

Richard was best on Floor (14.700) and High Bar (14.400), while former World Champion Stephen Nedoroscik led on Pommel Horse (14.450). Alex Diab led on Rings (14.600), and Curran Phillips posted a 15.600 to lead on Parallel Bars, and Khoi Young scored 14.950 to lead on Vault.

The women’s qualifying is on Friday on NBC (8-10 p.m. Eastern), Saturday’s men’s finals is on NBC from 3-6 p.m. and the women’s finals are on Sunday from 8:30-11 p.m. Eastern.

Superstar Simone Biles is, of course, the women’s favorite, but with multiple athletes with Olympic and World Championships medals contending for other places on the Paris team. One star who won’t be able to go to Paris is Skye Blakely, 19, a member of the Worlds gold-winning teams in 2022 and 2023. She suffered a leg injury on a tumbling pass during a Floor Exercise practice and ruptured her right Achilles tendon.

At the U.S. nationals in Trampoline, Sarah Webster won her third straight women’s national title with a 55.07 to 54.12 win at the Minneapolis Convention Center over Jessica Stevens, with Maia Amano third at 53.30. However, Stevens is the qualifier for Paris by having the highest combined scores by an American in two of three Olympic qualifiers this season.

The men’s winner was Ruben Padilla, scoring 57.34 to edge 2022 champ Ryan Maccagnan (57.109) and Elijah Vogel (56.48). But 2023 national champion Aliaksei Shostak won the Olympic berth in the qualifications in Minneapolis, outscoring Padilla. Shostak also competed in the Tokyo Games for the U.S.

● Volleyball ● The men’s FIVB Nations League playoffs are underway in Lodz (POL), with Slovenia leading the round-robin standings at 11-1, followed by host Poland (10-2), and Italy and Japan at 9-3. The U.S. finished 12th at 5-7 and did not advance to the playoffs.

In Lodz, Japan fought past Canada (8-5), in three difficult sets, by 26-24, 25-18 and 26-24, and defending champion Poland defeated Brazil (6-7) in four sets, 17-25, 25-23, 25-22 and 25-16. Slovenia and Argentina play on Friday, as do Italy and France.

The semis will be on the 29th and the final on Sunday (30th).

● Wrestling ● With the openings in the wrestling qualifying created by the selections made by the IOC’s Paris 2024 “neutrals” panel, a re-allocation awarded a spot in the Greco-Roman 77 kg class was awarded to American Kamal Bey.

He’ll be in his first Olympic Games, but has wrestled in three World Championships in 2019, 2022 and 2023, and was the 2023 Pan American Games gold medalist.

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