Sep 302018
Hamilton wins in Russia to extend lead in title race

SOCHI: Lewis Hamilton increased his lead in this year’s drivers’ world championship to 50 points when he claimed an accomplished victory, aided by Mercedes team tactics, in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.The defending four-time champion, who started second on the grid, was helped again by Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who allowed him to overtake and then defended him from attack by title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, as he battled to finish second.Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sat next to former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone after a late arrival at the Sochi Autodrom, saw the Briton make the most of Mercedes’ strategy and a thrilling passing move on Vettel in what was an intriguing contest.Bottas had started on pole and was unhappy at being asked to obey team orders that deprived him of a possible victory as he came home 2.5 seconds behind Hamilton, who looked sheepish about it all after the race.Vettel finished third in the race and the German saw Hamilton extend his lead over him in the standings. It was Hamilton’s third win in Russia, his fifth in six races and the 70th of his career, confirming he has the momentum to clinch a fifth title triumph with five races remaining.Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth for Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who marked his 21st birthday with a rousing drive, including a spell as race leader, from 19th on the grid. Renault-bound Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari-bound Charles Leclerc of Sauber filled the next placings.Kevin [Read More…]

Sep 212018
China, Russia warn US of consequences over sanctions

Moscow and Beijing lashed out on Friday at Washington’s new anti-Russian sanctions that also target China for the first time, warning the United States could face consequences. The United States is “playing with fire”, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said, while Beijing voiced “strong indignation” over the move. United in their resentment of America’s global influence, China and Russia have sought in recent years to tighten up their ties and this month conducted week-long joint military drills, Moscow’s largest ever war games. On Thursday, China — which is also locked in a trade war with Washington — got caught up in the sanctions war against Russia as the United States announced a new raft of measures that would punish third countries for dealing with Moscow. Stepping up pressure on Moscow over its “malign activities”, the US State Department said it was placing financial sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Ministry of Defence, and its top administrator, for its recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. Beijing on Friday urged the United States to withdraw sanctions or “bear the consequences”. “The US actions have seriously violated the basic principles of international relations and seriously damaged the relations between the two countries and the two militaries,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, adding Beijing had lodged an official protest with the United States. “We strongly urge the US to immediately correct their mistake and withdraw their so-called sanctions, otherwise the US will [Read More…]

Dec 062017
Russia banned from Winter Olympics

LAUSANNE: Russia was banned Tuesday from the 2018 Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee over its state-orchestrated doping programme, but clean Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under an Olympic flag. The sanction was the toughest ever levelled by the IOC for drug cheating and came just 65 days ahead of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.In announcing the decision, IOC president Thomas Bach accused Russia of “perpetrating an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport”.An explosive report by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and two subsequent IOC investigations have confirmed that Russian athletes took part in an elaborate drug cheating programme which peaked during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Mounting evidence has indicated that the scheme involved senior government officials, including from the sports ministry, with help from secret state agents.The IOC also banned Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko — who was sports minister during the Sochi Games — for life. Mutko is currently the head of the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup, which Russia is hosting. Attention will quickly turn to see if football’s world governing body FIFA allows the scandal-tainted ally of President Vladimir Putin to retain his senior World Cup role. In a statement, FIFA said it had “taken note” of the IOC decision but it had “no impact on the preparations” for Russia 2018. The IOC also suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and its chief Alexander Zhukov. Zhukov said he “apologised” to the IOC [Read More…]

Dec 022017
Russia finds ?ideal? WC group

MOSCOW: Russia breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday after avoiding Spain and looking like favourites to make it out of their group in their first home World Cup.“The ideal group,” the government-run R-Sport news agency shouted in a banner headline on its website after the State Kremlin Palace draw saw them paired with Saudi Arabia and Egypt for next year’s finals.Russia should face a sterner test in Luis Suarez’s Uruguay — the two-time World Cup winners who also have Paris Saint-Germain’s danger man Edinson Cavani.But both coaches and pundits alike were in good spirits after avoiding the potential disaster of being drawn in a “Group of Death” with sport-mad President Vladimir Putin watching on. Egypt will be spearheaded by Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah while Saudi Arabia will make their first return to the World Cup since 2006.“I think that this is a perfect — even ideal — group,” former Russia coach and three-time domestic Premier League champion Valery Gazzayev told R-Sport. The Russian Football Union’s honorary president Vyacheslav Koloskov agreed that “we got lucky with the draw”. “We should be able to handle all those teams,” he said.Russia launch their campaign to win Group A against Saudi Arabia in Moscow’s historic and completely refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in the tournament’s opening match on June 14. Click for detailed story

Nov 262017
Facing hurdles, Russia gears up to host WC

MOSCOW: Russia is gearing up to host the World Cup for the first time while facing the herculean task of eradicating racism and hooliganism and warding off the threat of a terror attack.Organisers also face the tricky task of appeasing beleaguered fans and President Vladimir Putin, who helped wrest the June 14-July 15 tournament from England in a controversial FIFA vote in 2010 and then gave many of the 11 host cities their first post-Soviet facelift.It is an $11.5-billion (9.6-billion-euro) gamble with the potential to backfire if it leaves behind “white elephant” stadiums and hotels that fall into disuse and fail to turn Russia into the tourism mecca it has always dreamed of being. The logistical challenge of the 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) separating the western-most stadium in Kaliningrad near Poland and the most easterly one in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg — the same distance as that between Paris and Moscow — will also test fans’ resolve.And friction between Russia and the West over Syria and Ukraine make this year’s addition of what is arguably the world’s biggest sports event one of the most diplomatically-charged World Cups in decades. The draw on Friday in the Kremlin will determine just how heated the group stage matches will be.Russian football has long been plagued by hooliganism in which “ultras” pre-arrange fights featuring everything from knives to bats, while racism has become especially pronounced with the infusion of foreign players once the Iron Curtain fell. Brazilian striker Hulk said he heard monkey [Read More…]

Nov 082017
?Russia wants US to extradite doping whistleblower?

MOSCOW: Russia said on Wednesday it planned to ask the United States to extradite Grigory Rodchenkov, the ex-head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory who alleged a state-sponsored doping cover-up at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Rodchenkov last year alleged, after travelling to the United States, that Russia had orchestrated a sophisticated scheme to protect its doping cheats by substituting tainted urine samples with clean ones at the Sochi Games. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations.“The investigation plans to demand Rodchenkov’s extradition from the United States,” Russia’s investigative committee said in a statement. It remains unclear how Rodchenkov could be extradited given that Russia and the United States do not have an extradition treaty.The investigative committee could not immediately be reached for clarification. The committee also denied that any sample tampering had taken place during the Sochi Games and said it had not found evidence of a state-sponsored doping programme in the country. “The arguments of WADA independent expert McLaren on the substitution of positive doping tests with negative ones at the Sochi anti-doping laboratory during the Winter Olympics have been refuted, as well as the existence in Russia of a state doping programme for athletes to win a maximum number of medals,” the committee said. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been retesting all Russian athletes’ samples from the 2014 Games following Rodchenkov’s allegations.Last week cross-country skiers Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov became the first Russians to be sanctioned for anti-doping rule violations as part of an IOC investigation into allegations [Read More…]