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Djokovic’s golden dream ends on day of upsets marred by doping slur

Djokovic's golden dream ends on day of upsets marred by doping slur 1

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Top-ranked Novak Djokovic had his dreams of tennis gold dashed on Friday while Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega felled the reigning world 10,000 metres Olympic champion, on a day of upsets that saw doping allegations surface at the swimming pool.

Serbia’s Djokovic was aiming to become the first man to complete the Golden Slam – Olympic gold and all four majors in the same year – but was undone by fifth-ranked German Alexander Zverev who fought back after losing the first set. The two men embraced briefly at the net and Zverev appeared to sob into his towel. In the first final of the athletics programme, Barega sprinted the last lap to leave Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, who also holds the 10,000m world record, trailing.

As viewer data suggested, Tokyo 2020 has so far been less watched than other recent Games, the day was also marked by crashes on the BMX track, including one that saw 28-year-old American favourite Connor Fields rushed to hospital. A sense of unease also spread through the Tokyo Aquatics Centre as American Ryan Murphy said his 200m backstroke final was “probably not clean” following the loss of the title he won in 2016 to the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) Evgeny Rylov.

Murphy, who won three golds in Rio, however later backed away from any implication that his rivals had cheated. Held in Tokyo without spectators and after a year’s delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Games have been characterised by tumult and scandals from the get-go, and have yet to set the ratings alight for global broadcasters. The unpredictable nature of this Games due to COVID-19 disruptions and delay has created high drama at the top of the medal tally in the first week.

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