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Lochte saga consumes Olympic headlines

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(EPA/PATRICK B. KRAEMER)

Usain Bolt and Ryan Lochte have commanded the Olympic spotlight for drastically different reasons.

Usain Bolt and Ryan Lochte have commanded the Olympic spotlight for drastically different reasons.

Bolt is going for an unprecedented third consecutive sweep of the 100- and 200-metre sprints, an accomplishment that would further elevate his status as the most decorated male sprinter in Olympic history.

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(EPA/SRDJAN SUKI)

But for most of the day, all anyone was talking about surrounding the Olympics was a drunken encounter at a petrol station restroom in Rio de Janeiro.

Lochte originally said he and his teammates were pulled over in their taxi by men with a badge and robbed at gunpoint during a night of partying on Sunday after their competition wrapped up.

Police say the story was made up, and that the intoxicated athletes vandalised a petrol station bathroom and were questioned by guards before they paid for the damage and left.

The episode served as a distraction from several notable events on the field of competition, including a dazzling round by American golfer Stacy Lewis, a gold for Brazil in sailing, and several medals at track and field.

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Description: Journalists surround American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, left, and Jack Conger, center, as they leave the police station at Rio International airport early Thursday Aug. 18, 2016. The two were taken off their flight from Brazil to the U.S. on Wednesday by local authorities amid an investigation into a reported robbery targeting Ryan Lochte and his teammates. According to their lawyer they will not be allowed to leave Brazil until they provide testimony about the robbery. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

Bolt is running in the 200-metre final and going for his third straight sprint double after winning the 100 and 200 in the Beijing and London Games.

The Jamaican is heavily favoured to pull off the feat again after already winning the 100, but will face competition from Andre de Grasse of Canada and American LaShawn Merritt, who actually has the year's best time at 200 metres.

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Description: Usain Bolt of Jamaica in action during the Men's 200m Semifinal 2 race at Olympic Stadium, on day twelve at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Merritt is a member of a US track and field team that is on a magnificent run in Rio.

It was also a busy day for doping suspensions. Doping officials announced that a weightlifter from Kyrgyzstan, a swimmer from China, a cyclist from Brazil and a canoeist from Moldova all tested positive for drugs.

The weightlifter was taking strychnine, best known for its use as rat poison. Athletes use it in small doses to boost muscle recovery.

It was also a significant day at badminton. Carolina Marin of Spain beat the defending Olympic champion from China to advance to the gold medal singles match.

Marin is world No. 1 but her win is significant because China had been badminton's superpower, sweeping all five gold medals at the 2012 London Games. And Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan won gold in women's badminton doubles.

© AP 2016