DOHA, Qatar (AP): Caster Semenya made herself the early Olympic frontrunner by easily winning the women’s 800 metres in the Doha Diamond League meet yesterday. Semenya decimated the field in a season’s best 1:58.26 seconds, almost nine-tenths of a second better than second-place Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia, 1:59.14. It was her second standout result to start the Olympic year, after announcing her ambition last month with an unprecedented hat-trick of 400m, 800m, and 1,500m titles at the South African championships. They were all the more remarkable because she’s hardly featured since her 2012 Olympic silver medal. She still hasn’t come close to the 1:55.56 she set in winning the 2009 Worlds’, when news leaked that she would be subject to gender testing. Semenya improved on her 800m time in Stellenbosch at Doha and was delighted. “I feel very good this year. I am focused on what I am doing,” she said. “My preparation has gone really well, but I can’t say there have been many changes in my training or my attitude.” DISAPPOINTED WITH LOSS Not so happy were Dafne Schippers, the World 200 champion, who was pipped in the 100m by American Tori Bowie, and the home favourite in the men’s high jump, Mutaz Essa Barshim. Barshim, who has jumped as high as 2.43 metres in setting the Asian record, could not do any better than 2.26, and was seventh in a competition won by American Erik Kynard at 2.33. “It’s all part of the plan. This being an Olympic year, I’m taking things slow,” Barshim insisted. “Last year, I peaked early, and by July, I was practically dead. I’m not going to repeat that mistake.” Bowie, the 100 bronze-medal winner at the Worlds last year in Beijing, said: “I gave the race my everything, and the win was mine. This being an Olympic year, I’m eagerly looking ahead at the outdoor season. I feel I’m a much better runner now than I was last season.” The women’s 3,000m featured two World champions in a fascinating duel. World champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia prevailed against World 10,000 champion Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya. Ayana was pushed to clock a season’s best 8:23.11. Cheruiyot was fourth. The men’s 200m was won by American Emir Webb in a meet record of 19.85s. He was the only person to break 20 seconds. Kenyans swept the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase. Asbel Kiprop led Elijah Motonei Manangoi and Silas Kiplagat to the podium in the 1,500m in 3:32.15, and Conseslus Kipruto won the steeplechase.
“I feel like a serious criminal although I have nothing to reproach myself,” he said. “People have made a name for themselves at my cost. Some were 100 percent lies. I wished I had gotten more support from some people, but I am not bitter.” Ullrich has been under investigation for several months in Spain’s “Operation Puerto” scandal, but has not been charged. He has been without a team since being fired by the T-Mobile team last summer. FOOTBALL: A former Canadian Football League player infected with HIV was sentenced to 5 years in prison for knowingly exposing two women to the virus by having unprotected sex with them. Trevis Smith, a linebacker who attended Alabama and later played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was found guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault this month. He said he will stay in the sport as a consultant for the Austrian-based Volksbank team. Ullrich criticized the way he had been treated by cycling officials in Germany and Switzerland and by the German media. TENNIS: Roger Federer struggled to a first-round victory at the Dubai (United Arab Emriates) Open, the day he broke Jimmy Connors’ streak of consecutive weeks at No. 1. Federer, who broke Connors’ 30-year-old mark with his 161st week at the top of the ATP rankings, defeated Kristian Pless 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3 after a monthlong break since winning the Australian Open. in Regina, Saskatchewan, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters will not play for Belgium in its Fed Cup match against the United States in April. BASKETBALL: Washington Wizards All-Star forward Caron Butler remained sidelined with lower back spasms, while Antawn Jamison returned to practice for the first time since injuring his knee last month. Butler was unable to play in Sunday’s 98-94 loss at Minnesota, the first game he has missed this season, and his status is uncertain for today’s game against the New Jersey Nets. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Former Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich ended his cycling career Monday, still defending himself against lingering doping suspicions. The 33-year-old German, who won the Tour in 1997 and was runner-up five times, announced his retirement in Hamburg, Germany, eight months after being implicated in a Spanish doping scandal.