Daily Digest: Olympic champion Brianna McNeal loses appeal against five-year doping ban

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In today’s news: Olympic champion Brianna McNeal to miss Olympics after losing doping ban appeal, English forward Nikita Parris signs for Arsenal, and Jamie Chadwick takes pole position in W Series qualifying race.

Brianna McNeal loses doping ban appeal

Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna McNeal will not be able to defend her title in Tokyo this summer after she lost an appeal against a five-year doping ban. She was suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit in April after a disciplinary tribunal found her guilty of "tampering within the results management process".

The 29-year-old American will be suspended until August 2025, meaning she will also miss out on competing at the Paris 2024 Olympics. It is the second time McNeal has been banned for breaching anti-doping rules. She was suspended for the 2017 World Championships while serving a one-year ban for missing three drug tests.

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Sha’Carri Richardson apologises after returning positive test for cannabis

In more bad news for US track and field, star sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has been ruled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has apologised after returning a positive drugs test for marijuana.

The American sprinter returned the positive test at the US Olympic trials last week, where she ran 100m in 10.86 seconds to qualify for Tokyo 2020. Richardson has accepted a 30-day suspension and will miss the 100m at the Games, although she could return for the women’s relays.

She revealed on NBC’s Today show that she had used cannabis to cope with the death of her biological mother, which took place just before the US Olympic trials.

Richardson has set the world of sprinting alight since turning professional in 2019. She ran a personal best of 10.72 in April, making her the sixth fastest woman in history.


Nikita Parris signs for Arsenal

Arsenal today confirmed they have signed England international Nikita Parris for a club-record fee, worth up to £86,000.

The 27-year-old striker is moving from Lyon, having joined the French club from Manchester City in 2019. When in England, Parris held the record as the all-time leading scorer in the Women's Super League with 49 goals. She has since been overtaken by new teammate Vivianne Miedema.

"I'm very happy to be here. Arsenal has an unbelievable history and I want to be a part of this,” Parris said. "I want to achieve all domestic titles and compete in the Champions League here. I'm happy to be back in the WSL which has grown and improved so much since I left."


Jamie Chadwick takes pole position in W Series qualifying race

Reigning W Series champion Jamie Chadwick has seemingly recovered from a difficult start to the season after finishing in pole position in a qualifying race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Chadwick had qualified eighth at the same venue last weekend before placing sixth in the race proper. She finished in front of second-place Beitske Visser today, with Bruna Tomaselli finishing third and Nerea Marti fourth.

Alice Powell, who triumphed at the W Series opener last weekend, qualified in a disappointing 12th place. She will be hoping to gain on her rivals during tomorrow’s race, which can be watched on Channel 4 from 3pm.


Women’s Champions League draw takes place

Arsenal and Juventus were among the teams to find out their opponents in the round one qualifying draw for the 2021-22 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

The new qualifying format is somewhat confusing, but features 15 mini-tournaments in round one. Eleven of these will be on the champions path, with the remaining four on the league path.

The champions path is made up of those who won their league titles across Europe, such as Juventus, with 10 of the tournaments made up of four teams and one made up of three. In the groups of four teams, there will be two semi-finals played, with the winner of the final progressing to round two. In the group of three teams, the team with the highest coefficient will progress directly to the final, with the remaining two teams to play a semi-final to decide who faces them.

The league path includes Arsenal, who finished third in the Women's Super League this season, as well as others across Europe who feature in leagues with more than one Champions League place available.

Arsenal face Kazakhstan outfit Okzhetpes in their first game, and could come up against PSV for a place in round two. Juventus will play Macedonian side Kamenica Sasa, before meeting either Besiktas or St. Polten.

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