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China’s Ning Zetao will not de­fend his 100-me­tre freestyle world ti­tle next month af­ter fail­ing to qual­ify for the Bu­dapest show­piece, state me­dia said yes­ter­day. The fresh-faced Ning, a fan favourite in China af­ter win­ning the world cham­pi­onship crown in 2015, clocked 49.67 sec­onds this week in his 100m free heat in a trial for the Chi­nese Na­tional Games, his first com­pet­i­tive race since last year’s Rio Olympics, Xinhua news agency said. How­ever, Zetao, 24, then quit the fi­nal, cit­ing a waist in­jury. Ning has a colour­ful past. He served a one-year sus­pen­sion af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for the pro­hib­ited sub­stance clen­buterol in 2011, and in Fe­bru­ary this year he was thrown out of the China team for “vi­o­lat­ing the rules”. He failed to qual­ify for the 100m freestyle fi­nal at Rio.

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