ROAD RACING

The Boston Marathon is tweaking its start times to send the elite men off before the women for the race’s 124th edition this year, a reversal that organizers hope will give the women’s race more attention.

The men will leave at 9:37 a.m. for the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay, with the elite women leaving eight minutes later.

Boston Athletic Association officials said the new times will minimize the chance of the top men passing women in the elite field and overtaking coverage of the women’s finish. Since the leaders are accompanied by media trucks and police motorcycle escorts, it was also a safety issue.

“I’m excited about the new start times,” 2018 champion Des Linden said. “The B.A.A. has taken industry-leading steps to ensure our safety and a world-class experience. I am especially excited about the additional coverage in the final miles – all the world’s eyes will be on us as we head for the finish in Boston.”

SOCCER

COPA DEL REY: Real Madrid and Barcelona were both eliminated in quarterfinals.

Madrid lost 4-3 to Real Sociedad at home before Barcelona conceded a late goal to lose 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao.

It’s the first time in a decade that neither Madrid nor Barcelona made it to the last four in the Copa. At least one of the Spanish powerhouses had reached the final every year since the 2009-10 season, when Sevilla won the title. Barcelona made the final the last six years in a row.

MLS: The minimum salary for senior players in Major League Soccer will rise from $70,250 last year to $109,200 in 2024 as part of a five-year collective bargaining agreement, and the use of charter flights will expand.

Free-agent eligibility also will increase under the agreement, which is subject to ratification by both sides.

Spending power per team will go up from $8.49 million last year to $11,643,000 in the final season of the deal. The agreement includes a provision in which players will share in increased media revenue in 2023 and 2024. Player spending will go up by an amount equal to 25 percent above the 2022 figure plus $100 million.

OLYMPICS

TOKYO GAMES: For the first time, a woman has been chosen to launch the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Games at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in Greece.

Greece’s Olympic committee said it has picked Rio de Janeiro shooting gold medalist Anna Korakaki as the first torchbearer following the flame-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia on March 12.

The torch relay will course through Greece for a week before the flame is handed over to Tokyo organizing officials at a ceremony in Athens. The last torchbearer will also be a woman – Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi who won the pole vault gold medal at Rio.

NIKE: Nike’s Vaporfly model has shaken up distance running since the world’s largest sports apparel company introduced it four years ago, with technology credited for helping runners shave minutes off their times. To some, the advances are an exciting revolution. Others have called it “technology doping” that risks reducing marathons to a shoe competition.

“Running is so simple. That’s why people love it so much. Now we have a shoe that is blurring that,” said Geoff Burns, a runner and Ph.D candidate at the University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology.

The controversy prompted World Athletics, the sport’s governing body, to issue its most stringent shoe regulations in decades ahead of the Tokyo Games. But the Vaporfly escaped a ban, and the debate continues.

CURLING

UNITED STATES: USA Curling hired Jeff Plush to be its new CEO, going outside the sport to put the former commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League in charge of growing the game at both the elite and grassroots level.

SKIING

WORLD CUP: Davos is set to host World Cup races in Alpine skiing for the first time in 36 years.

The high-end Swiss resort will stage slalom parallel racing events for men and women on Jan. 1, the International Ski Federation confirmed. Davos hosts its annual gathering of global leaders from Jan. 26-29.

Davos has never staged a men’s race in 53 years of World Cup racing and last had a women’s race in December 1984.

DOPING

SWIMMING: Former Olympic champion swimmer Roland Schoeman has been banned for one year after testing positive for a black market substance considered to be a cancer risk.

The 39-year-old South African tested positive for GW501516 in May, swimming body FINA said in a published ruling.

Schoeman had been in training to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  He can appeal against the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

FIGURE SKATING

FOUR CONTINENTS: Defending champion skater Rika Kihira of Japan produced a strong short program to lead the opening day at Seoul, South Korea.

Skating to “Breakfast in Baghdad,” Kihira opened with a flawless triple axel and added a triple flip-triple toeloop combination with a triple lutz for 81.81 points and a comfortable lead over American Bradie Tennell, who was second with 75.93.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro of Canada lead the pairs short program with a personal-best score of 76.36.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States edged teammates Madison Chock and Evan Bates by just 0.19 points to finish first in the rhythm dance with a season-best 85.95. Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were third on 83.92.

Comments are not available on this story.