Apr 132017
Van Niekerk to have shot at 200/400 world double

LONDON: South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk will have the chance to emulate Michael Johnson’s feat of winning the 200 and 400 metres at the same World Championships following changes to the schedule for August’s edition in London. The first day of a two-day meeting of the council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) saw the global governing body announce Wednesday that the opening round of the men’s 200 metres has been moved from day five (August 8) to day four (August 7). Previously, the 400m final was set to start just hours after the 200m heats, with both races scheduled for late evening on August 8. Now Van Niekerk is on course to go against sprint great Usain Bolt, a recent training partner, in the 200m in what is set to be the Jamaican’s final major competition before retirement. The 2017 World Championships will take place at London’s Olympic Stadium from August 4-13. IAAF president Sebastian Coe said he was “delighted” that the council had made it possible for Olympic 400m champion Van Niekerk, who at last year’s Rio Games smashed American track legend Johnson’s 17-year-old world record for the one lap event of 43.18 seconds by winning gold in a time of 43.03, to have a crack at the double in London. “These double headers create great excitement among both athletes and fans,” said British middle-distance ace Coe, the Olympic 1500m champion at both the 1980 and 1984 Games in Moscow and Los Angeles respectively. Johnson completed [Read More…]

Oct 042016
Maria Sharapova to hear verdict on doping ban today

LAUSANNE: The world´s top sports court will rule Tuesday on Maria Sharapova´s appeal against her two-year tennis ban over doping. In a statement, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland said the verdict will be issued at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT). The 29-year-old Russian tested positive for the banned medication meldonium during January´s Australian Open. In a severe blow to her reputation, the infringement was revealed in March. The product had just been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list on January 1. The ruling had initially been expected in July, with Sharapova hoping to be reinstated in time for the Rio Games. But both Sharapova´s camp and the International Tennis Federation, which imposed the ban, needed further time in preparing their case. The five-time grand slam winner said she had been taking the substance for 10 years to help treat illnesses, a heart issue and a magnesium deficiency. She also claimed it had entirely escaped her attention that the product had been added to the banned substance list.

Jul 272016

MOSCOW, RUSSIA: President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said the absence of some Russian stars at the Rio Games would hit the quality of the competition. “It’s obvious that the absence of Russian competitors, leaders in many disciplines will lower the intensity of the fight and that means the spectacle at the upcoming events,” Putin told the members of the Russian Olympic team in the Kremlin. “The other sportsmen understand that the quality of their medals will be different.” The Russian strongman was speaking to 49 competitors including track and field stars Yelena Isinbayeva and Sergey Shubenkov who will miss the Games. New Zealand athlete ‘kidnapped’ in Rio ahead of Olympics  He slammed the broader decision to exclude some Russian athletes from the Games over bombshell revelations of state-sponsored doping. “The current situation does not only go beyond the legal sphere, it goes beyond common sense,” Putin said. More than 100 Russian athletes, including all but one of the track and field team will miss the Olympics but the country has avoided being totally excluded. Roger Federer to miss Rio Games due to injury The International Olympic Committee [IOC] sparked fierce criticism on Sunday when it resisted a blanket ban in favour of allowing individual sports federations to make the call on which Russians can go to Rio. International sports federations are now scrambling to vet Russian athletes as time ticks down to the start of the Games on August 5. The number of Russian athletes banned since Sunday now stands at [Read More…]

Jul 052016
Russia ban a positive step against doping, says Adams

WELLINGTON: Double Olympic champion Valerie Adams feels the suspension on Russian athletes from the Rio Games is a positive step towards eradicating doping and the New Zealand shot putter has called for a life ban on drug cheats. Russia’s track and field team have been suspended from international competition since November following a World Anti-Doping Agency report and are barred from next month’s Games as a punishment for the nation’s systematic doping problems. A number of Russian athletes have appealed against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ban, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will step in to settle the dispute between the country, its athletes and the governing body of world athletics. “It will definitely be a positive step because if you don’t stop it at the top it will just keep going,” Adams, 31, told the Guardian in an interview. Adams, who was awarded gold at the 2012 Olympics after Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, said there should be no way back for tainted athletes. “Once a cheater always a cheater. Kick them out and don’t let them back in. Zero tolerance,” she said. Adams has thrice suffered heartbreak in her career, after finishing behind athletes who have subsequently been found out as drug cheats. “In 2004, at the Athens Olympics, I finished ninth (behind winner Irina Korzhanenko of Russia, subsequently convicted of doping at those Games) and so I missed out on three extra throws (granted to the top eight [Read More…]

May 172016
IOC says 31 athletes could miss Rio after positive Beijing drugs re-tests

LONDON: Thirty one athletes from six sports could be banned from this year’s Rio Olympics after failing dope tests when 454 samples were reexamined from the 2008 Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday. The IOC also said it would start re-testing Sochi 2014 winter Games samples after allegations of tarnished samples were made last week by Russia’s former top anti-doping scientist. Some 250 samples from the London Games will also be reexamined. In an effort to crack down on cheats during the Olympics, the IOC said this was targeted re-testing on athletes likely to be at the Rio Games starting on Aug 5, and those found to have tested positive would not compete. An IOC official told Reuters no names would be made public at this stage until athletes had been informed and a second sample, or B-sample, tested as well. “The aim is to stop any drugs cheats coming to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” the IOC said. “The (IOC) Executive Board agreed unanimously to initiate proceedings immediately, with the 12 National Olympic Committees concerned informed in the coming days.” The re-tests, a regular procedure by the IOC as it looks to use newer methods or look for new substances, were carried out in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and international federations. The IOC said it had also called on WADA to launch a “fully fledged investigation” into allegations that testing during the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics by the on-site accredited laboratory [Read More…]

May 112016
Tennis Australia chief slams ?disrespectful? Tomic in Rio row

SYDNEY: Tennis Australia chief Steve Healy has labelled Bernard Tomic disrespectful and said Nick Kyrgios was picking unnecessary fights with Olympic officials as the debate over who should represent the country at the Rio Games continued on Wednesday. Kyrgios and Tomic are the country’s top ranked men’s players but were both warned last weekend by Australia’s chef de mission for the Games, Kitty Chiller, that they were among a group of athletes whose behaviour was being monitored. Tomic had been lambasted for holding his racket by the strings and not offering a shot when facing match point at last week’s Madrid Open, responding to criticism by saying: “Would you care if you were 23 and worth over $10 million?” Chiller described the incident involving the world number 22 as “appalling” and TA President Healy said he was also concerned. “I think it’s a disrespect for the game and his opponent, and that’s the thing that I think troubles us,” he told The Age newspaper. “Bernard does some good things and then he disrespects the game. I think it’s a bit of an insult to the fans and to the opponent when you don’t try all the way through the match. “He’s making progress in terms of his ranking, his performances and so on, and then he just does something that basically unwinds all the good he does, and so you shake your head in disbelief.” Kyrgios’ response to Chiller’s warning came via a cheeky tweet and then at the Italian [Read More…]

Apr 272016
Venues ready, but many challenges remain for Rio Games

SAO PAULO: Brazil has long been known as a country that can throw a great party as long as the guests do not mind a location that still has the builders in it. With 100 days to go before the Olympic Games begin in Rio de Janeiro, the nation famous for doing things at the last minute faces a novel situation: The venues are ready, but the host does not appear to be. With the country’s president fighting impeachment and the economy on track for its worst recession in more than a century, Brazilians are both angry and distracted. “People are paying no attention” to the Olympics, said longtime Rio resident Julia Michaels, who chronicles the city through her Rio Real blog. “No one is talking about it at all because there are so many other things to talk about.” When Rio de Janeiro won the right to host the Games in 2009, Brazil was the darling of the developing world. Its economy had grown briskly for most of the decade, 30 million people had been lifted from poverty and the nation was assuming a prominent role in world affairs. Since then, a collapse in commodities prices has dragged down the economy, and President Dilma Rousseff faces the prospect of being suspended from office next month on charges of budgetary fraud. The twin meltdowns in politics and the economy have consumed Brazil, and the Olympics have all but disappeared from the front pages and TV news. In a nation where [Read More…]