Venus pulls out of US Open
Two-time champion Venus Williams withdrew from the US Open on Friday, citing the left wrist injury that's sidelined her since Wimbledon. "I have many great memories from competing at the US Open, and I regret that I will not be able to participate in 2006," Williams said in a statement released by her agent. "I will miss the excitement of competing in front of the New York fans at one of the premier sporting events in the world. I look forward to returning in 2007." Williams, who was seeded 30th for the tournament, won the US Open in 2000 and 2001, part of her collection of five Grand Slam titles.
Pratt released by Durham
Gary Pratt, who enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame when he ran out Australian skipper Ricky Ponting during the Ashes last year, was cast into the cricket wilderness on Friday when he was axed by Durham. The 23-year-old claimed the scalp of Ponting in the fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge last year and sparked a major row over England's use of substitute fielders. But on Friday he was one of four players released by English county side Durham. Pratt made his Durham Academy debut in 1997 and made his First Class debut three years later. His highest First Class score was 150 against Northampton in 2003.
Club protests doping ban
A German athletics club has protested a javelin thrower's suspension after two positive tests for the banned substance finasterid. When tested, Fabian Heinemann disclosed in documents that he was using a doctor-prescribed medicine against heavy hair loss and that it contained finasterid, his club SC Magdeburg said in a statement on Friday. The club did not say when Heinemann tested positive or whether his "B" samples were also positive. The German Athletics Federation, which wasn't available for comment, suspended the javelin thrower until its investigation is complete. The 21-year-old told SC Magdeburg he was unaware that finasterid -- sometimes used as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs -- was on the banned list.
Junga's condition stable
Australian cyclist Renee Junga remains in intensive care in an Auckland hospital after undergoing surgery to stabilize spinal injuries, Cycling Australia (CA) said yesterday. Junga, 20, crashed during training on the 4X (four cross) course at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Rotorua, New Zealand last Tuesday. She broke the C1 and C2 bones in her neck, two ribs and her sternum and sustained spinal cord damage at the T6 vertabrae, CA said. "The surgeons say they are happy with the way the [10-hour] operation went," Junga's mother Sallie Howie said in a CA statement. "They've told us there is a one-in-800 chance she may regain feeling below T6 but that is a chance and doctors really don't know why some people with spinal injuries regain feeling and others don't," Howie said.