Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Sports Briefs

AGENCIES

■ Horse Racing

Best Mate makes history

Best Mate joined horse racing's superstars on Thursday when he became the first horse since Arkle 38 years ago to win the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup three years in a row. On the 40th anniversary of Arkle's first victory, the 9-year-old gelding won the three-and-a-quarter mile chase by half-a-length over Sir Rembrant. Harbour Pilot was third. Now bookmakers are offering odds of just 5-4 that a gelding that's never been out of the first two in 19 races and has won almost <<1 million pounds>> (US$1.82 million) for owner Jim Lewis, will go for four Gold Cup triumphs. "I don't think my nerves will take another year," said trainer Henrietta Knight. "But we're already planning, as from tomorrow morning, for next year."

■ Olympics

Record number to compete

A record 202 nations, including Iraq and Afghanistan, will send teams to this summer's Athens Olympics. The IOC said Thursday it had received positive responses from every recognized national Olympic committee to the invitations sent out last year for the Aug. 13 to 29 games. The previous record was set at the 2000 Sydney Games when 199 recognized national committees took part, as well as athletes from East Timor competing under the Olympic flag. Since Sydney, the International Olympic Committee has reinstated Afghanistan and formally recognized East Timor and Kiribati. Iraq's national Olympic committee, dissolved after last year's US-led invasion, was re-admitted last month. Fourteen countries participated at the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. The lowest number was recorded in 1904 in St. Louis when only 12 nations sent teams.

■ Tennis

Agassi shrugs off tax bill

Andre Agassi isn't overly concerned about a British court ruling that will cost him some US$50,000 in taxes there on endorsement earnings. "At the end of the day, it's nearly a dollar-per-dollar wash on the taxes you have to pay here [in the United States]," Agassi said Thursday night after defeating Guillermo Coria 6-4, 7-5 to reach the Pacific Life Open semifinals. "You're paying taxes there or you're paying taxes here. I don't really begrudge them for it; no financial cost to me," he said. The ruling could affect other athletes such as Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters and other stars who play in Britain. Judge Sir Gavin Lightman of the London High Court on Wednesday ordered Agassi to pay taxes on income paid by Nike and Head Sports to his US-based company, Agassi Enterprises Inc.

■ Soccer

Ferdinand appeal fails

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand remains suspended for eight months for missing a drug test after losing an appeal on Thursday. He might have been going home with a 12-month ban. The England star had been found guilty of failing to appear for a doping test at Manchester United's training ground on Sept. 23. A three-man Independent Appeal Commission upheld the verdict and the eight-month sanction which runs until Sept. 20. It means Ferdinand won't be able to play for England at this summer's European Championship in Portugal and can't play for United until a month into next season. By appealing, Ferdinand ran the risk of the suspension being extended. But the panel turned down an application by the Football Association to increase the ban to 12 months.

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