Olympics notebook

Noguchi won't defend her marathon title

Wire Reports / August 13, 2008
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Reigning Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi pulled out of Sunday's marathon yesterday because of a lingering left thigh injury. Noguchi, the 2003 world championship silver medalist, was attempting to become the first woman to repeat as Olympic marathon champion.

The 4-foot-11-inch, 88-pound runner had been bothered by the injury for some time and underwent a series of tests in Japan after returning from her training in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Noguchi, who turned 30 last month, pulled out of last year's world championships in Osaka, Japan, because she doesn't like running in the heat.

However, she survived sweltering conditions in the mid-90s to win the event in the Athens Olympics, beating favored Catherine Ndereba of Kenya by 12 seconds.

Britain's Paula Radcliffe, the world record-holder, was a major disappointment in that race, collapsing because of dehydration after leading much of the race. Radcliffe, 34, told the BBC she would race in the marathon in Beijing. She too has been bothered by a thigh injury.

"Of course, I could do with a bit more time," Radcliffe said, "but I'll just go in and give it a go."

It's become a testy subject

Asafa Powell of Jamaica is one of about 10 track and field athletes participating in a previously unreported voluntary anti-doping program - which is why the former 100-meter world record-holder's complaints about too many drug tests surprised the sport's world governing body. In the pilot project, athletes agree to undergo unlimited testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations. But Powell said he felt targeted since arriving in China Aug. 1.

"About two days ago, I got pretty upset, because since I've been here, they've tested me four times, and they took blood - a lot of blood," Powell said. Then, tongue apparently planted firmly in cheek, Powell added: "They are taking so much blood, I am going to be very weak before the final of the 100 meters."

Told of those comments, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said in a telephone interview that Powell agreed to take part in the organization's program that began this year.

"He knows about it, so it's a bit strange he would complain," Davies said.

Unwanted spotlight for Spain

Spanish cyclist Iban Mayo's two-year ban for doping was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The 30-year-old Mayo tested positive for the endurance-boosting hormone EPO at the 2007 Tour de France.

The verdict is the latest doping case attracting attention to Spanish cycling in recent weeks, including the barring of Maria Isabel Moreno from competing in Beijing. Pat McQuaid, the president of UCI, cycling's governing body, suggested Spain's anti-doping officials aren't doing enough.

"The Spanish federation have constantly defended athletes who have been involved in doping cases," McQuaid said before the Mayo verdict was published. "They have been light in the way they've treated doping cases."

Relay record off the books

The 1,600-meter relay world record set by the US in 1998 was scrapped because of Antonio Pettigrew's admission of doping.

Michael Johnson, Tyree Washington, and Jerome Young also were on the team that set the record of 2 minutes, 54.20 seconds in Uniondale, N.Y., July 22, 1998. Pettigrew admitted in court in May that he had used performance-enhancing drugs dating to 1997.

Please take a seat

International Olympic Committee officials urged Beijing organizers to let more people into the Olympic Green - the centerpiece zone of the Games where most of the main venues are located - and find ways to fill up the arenas. Chinese organizers have boasted for months that all 6.8 million tickets had been sold. Wang Wei, spokesman for the Beijing organizing committee, admitted that some empty seats were being filled by volunteers in yellow shirts serving as official cheerleaders . . . After being eliminated from the women's beach volleyball competition by a pair of Brazilians who represent Georgia, the Russian team criticized the media for trying to escalate the conflict between their nations. "[The media] wants us to fight together. It would be good to have peace between Georgia and Russia but for me, here and now, it doesn't matter," said Alexandra Shiryaeva. "They're not from Georgia. They're Brazilian. It doesn't matter whom we play, we just play." . . . Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai dislocated his right elbow during a lift in the men's 77-kilogram division and was taken to a Beijing hospital. Baranyai was trying to lift 148 kilograms (326.3 pounds) in the snatch when his elbow popped, bending his forearm backward. He fell to the floor, shaking and crying out in pain . . . The captain of Bulgaria's volleyball team, Plamen Konstantinov, was temporarily removed from competition after a doping test . . . Taiwanese baseball player Chang Tai-shan was banned from participating in the team's first Olympic game after failing a drug test.

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