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LaShawn Merritt banned from competition for 21 months

The punishment for U.S. quarter-miler LaShawn Merritt has been set at 21 months after the two-time Olympic champ tested positive three times for Dehydroepiandrosterone, a drug contained in a product he said he took to improve his sex life. Though Merritt could be eligible to return before the London Games, since his suspension was retroactive to October 2009, an IOC rule prohibits him as a banned athlete from actually taking part in the next Olympics. Merritt won gold at the Beijing Olympics in both the 400 meters and the 4x400-meter relay. He also won golds in both events at the world championships in Berlin last summer.

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U.S. shot-putter Jim Fuchs, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist after the Second World War, passed away on Friday at age 82. Though Fuchs had a great career, he was a victim of bad timing, having dominated his event in between Olympics.

After winning a bronze medal at the 1948 London Games despite a 104-degree fever, Fuchs won 88 straight competitions and broke the world record four times. His best throw came in Eskilstuna, Sweden in 1950 when he tossed the shot 17.95 meters (58 feet, 10 3/4 inches). He won his second bronze medal at the Helsinki Games in 1952, despite a severe sprain in his throwing hand. In order to compensate for another injury (this time a leg injury), Fuchs developed the so-called sideways glide that he continued to use during his career.

After he retired, Fuchs became a successful businessman in the communications industry and also worked with Yankee boss George Steinbrenner to establish a fund that provided scholarships to families of police and firefighters who lost their lives in the call of duty.

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Suresh Kalmadi, chief of the organizing committee for the recent star-crossed Commonwealth Games in Delhi, is claiming that India could soon host an Olympics. Meanwhile, the Indian government is launching an investigation into the corruption that foiled several construction projects associated with the Commonwealth Games and the deaths of 42 workers and volunteers who prepared the games. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for the investigation even after Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell praised the organizers for pulling off a successful games at the 11th hour. Kalmadi is among those targeted in the probe that is expected to last at least three months.

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Neither the Paralympics nor the summer's inaugural Youth Olympics are above doping disqualifications. Last Saturday, officials announced that from the more than 1,200 tests conducted at the Youth Olympics, two wrestlers, Ecuador's Johnny Pilay and Uzbekistan's Nurbek Hakkulov, tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic that could help them shed water, and therefore weight, in an attempt to tip the scales below their weight classes. Pilay had placed fifth in the 63-kilogram class of the freestyle competition. Hakkulov had won a silver medal in the 50-kilogram class of Greco-Roman competition.

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In Rotterdam, both the U.S. men and women have qualified for the team finals at the World Gymnastics Championships. Individually, Rebecca Bross and Alexandra Raisman have qualified for the all-around finals on Friday, and the following qualified for finals in individual events taking place on Saturday and Sunday: vault (Alicia Sacramone); uneven bars (Bross and Bridget Sloan); balance beam (Bross and Sacramone); and floor exercise (Raisman). The U.S. women received a blow during training week when Chelsea Davis dislocated her knee. Davis is strong on the uneven bars, an event that is not a strength of this particular U.S. squad.

On the men's side, Jonathan Horton and Danell Leyva qualified for the all-round finals on Friday. The men only qualified three gymnasts for other event finals: Steven Legendre on floor, and Chris Brooks and Leyva on horizontal bar.

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A pair of speedy Kenyans, four-time Boston Marathon champ Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot and two-time New York Marathon winner Martin Lel, announced this week that they would not run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7. Both Kenyans are suffering from leg injuries. Their absence still leaves Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie and defending champ Meb Keflezighi scheduled to compete.

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