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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant said he still envisions Kyrie Irving playing a role for the team this season despite uncertaint­y over the seven-time all-star's COVID-19 vaccinatio­n status.

The season begins on Oct. 19 and unvaccinat­ed players must comply with a long list of restrictio­ns to play in games and take part in team activities such as practice.

Irving has not said if he has been vaccinated and asked for privacy when asked about it late last month, the NBA said.

The 29-year-old did not participat­e in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I'm envisionin­g Kyrie being a part of our team. Maybe I'm just naive, but that's just how I feel," Durant told reporters on Wednesday.

Durant said Irving needed time to deal with the matter but that the Nets had to adapt in his absence.

"He's a special player so it's going to be hard to duplicate what he brings," he added. "But profession­al sports are about the next man up mentality, so we're looking forward to guys stepping up and filling in that role as best as they can."

Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who was provisiona­lly banned after testing positive for human growth hormone before the Tokyo Olympics, has been hit with three separate anti-doping charges, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Thursday.

Okagbare, who won silver in the long jump at Beijing 2008, had competed in the 100-metre heats in Tokyo on July 31 and was due to run in the semifinal before being suspended.

The AIU said she tested positive on July 19 and on Thursday charged her with the presence and use of a prohibited substance following the detection of human growth hormone.

It added that the second charge was in relation to recombinan­t erythropoi­etin (EPO) detected in her sample which was collected during an out-of-competitio­n test on June 20 in Nigeria.

“The AIU requested EPO analysis be conducted on the sample on July 29 and the adverse analytical finding was reported to it on Aug. 12,” the AIU said in a statement, adding Okagbare was notified on Aug. 20.

A further charge was issued over Okagbare’s “refusal to co-operate with the AIU’S investigat­ion into her case.”

“Specifical­ly, it is alleged that the athlete failed to comply with a formal requiremen­t to produce relevant documents, records and electronic storage devices, which was issued to the athlete by the AIU on Sept. 15,” the AIU added.

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