Stepanek quits, Czechs livid
Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic announced his retirement from the national team on Friday and will not play the US in next year's Davis Cup match. Stepanek's decision "unequivocally confirmed that he is completely indifferent to playing for the Czech Republic and that he despises Czech tennis, his teammates, officials and Czech tennis fans," the Czech tennis federation said in a statement. Josef Nechutny, secretary-general of the federation, earlier confirmed Stepanek's decision to retire. Stepanek, ranked No. 19, is the country's second-best player.
WADA targets Pakistanis
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has lodged an appeal for the restoration of the original bans imposed on Pakistan cricketers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif for doping. The Pakistan Cricket Board banned Akhtar for two years and Asif for one on Nov. 1 for taking the banned steroid nandrolone, but an appeals tribunal overturned the decision on Dec. 5. WADA appealed that decision on Thursday to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Lausanne, Switzerland. "WADA has determined that it has the right -- and the duty -- to appeal in the circumstances in the interest of doping-free sport," spokesman Frederic Donze said on Friday.
Van Vliet in racism spat
Toulon's South African third rower Charl Van Vliet has been called before the National Rugby League (LNR) disciplinary commission on Jan. 3 after being accused of racism by a black French player. "Following remarks the RC Toulon player made towards Pau player Guy Jeannard ... Charl Van Vliet has been summonsed before the disciplinary commission on Jan. 3, 2007," the LNR said in a statement. Pau second rower Jeannard left the field voluntarily moments before the final whistle of last Saturday's 17-18 defeat to second division rivals Toulon. According to Pau club officials, the 34-year-old Jeannard said he had been the victim of "intolerable racist insults" by Van Vliet. He decided to leave the pitch, he said, before doing something he would later regret.
Sunderland borrow Bardsley
Manchester United back Phil Bardsley will go on loan to Championship side Sunderland next month, manager Sir Alex Ferguson said on Friday. Sunderland boss Roy Keane, once Ferguson's captain at Old Trafford, was reportedly interested in taking teenage Northern Ireland international Johnny Evans to the northeast club. Although Ferguson said he was still to make up his mind on any temporary move for Evans, he did confirm that Bardsley was on his way to the Stadium of Light next month.
Third terror drill staged
China's military staged an anti-terror drill in an eastern city yesterday that state media said was part of security preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The "Great Wall No. 3" exercise, the third "state-level" anti-terror drill, took place in Qingdao City, according to Xinhua news agency. "This exercise was conducted under the guidance of the central leadership ... and was carried out against the backdrop of a potential terror attack in China in the form of a biochemical strike," Xinhua reported. The drill focused on crisis handling in a city in the event of an attack and was conducted according to the needs of security measures for the 2008 Olympics, the report said.
■ College Football
Troy beats Rice in bowl
Omar Haugabook threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score to lead Troy to a 41-17 victory over Rice on Friday in the New Orleans Bowl. It was the second bowl appearance and first victory for the Trojans (8-5), who moved up to Division I-A in 2002. Troy earned the bowl bid with its first Sun Belt Conference title. Haugabook, the Sun Belt player of the year and unanimous MVP of the game, completed 14 of 28 for 217 yards. He was intercepted once. Haugabook also picked up 92 of Troy's 148 yards. Rice (7-6) was seeking its first postseason victory since 1954.
■ Women's soccer
US to play Germany
The US women's soccer team will open its schedule next year against Germany on Jan. 26 at the Four Nations Tournament in Guangzhou, China. The US team, unbeaten in their last 32 games, also play England on Jan. 28 and China on Jan. 30. The US team, which won the Four Nations Tournament in 1998, 2003, 2004 and this year, does not intend to include forwards Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach, midfielder Aly Wagner and defender Christie Rampone on its roster. "We will not be bringing some of our top veteran players to allow them to rejoin the team with fresh legs and minds in February," coach Greg Ryan said on Friday.
Griffey injures hand
Ken Griffey Jr. couldn't avoid getting injured in the offseason. The center fielder for Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds broke his left hand in an accident at home, the latest in a series of setbacks since he was traded to his hometown team in 2000. Griffey will have the hand in a hard cast for three weeks, then be re-examined, the team said on Friday. The club wasn't authorized by Griffey to give any details of how he was hurt. General manager Wayne Krivsky wasn't sure whether Griffey will be ready for the start of spring training.
Yankees sign Miranda
Juan Miranda, a 23-year-old Cuban-born infielder, signed a four-year contract on Friday with the New York Yankees and is set to become the baseball club's first non-pitching Cuban player in 20 years. Miranda was born and raised in Consulacion del Sur in Cuba but now lives in the Dominican Republic. From 2002 through 2004, he played for Pinar Del Rio of Cuba, batting .303 with 27 home runs. "Juan Miranda has impressed our scouts with his talent and his strength," Yankees Dominican Republic scouting supervisor Ramon Valdivia said. "His biggest asset is his bat."
Duke rape charges dropped
Rape charges against three former Duke University lacrosse players in Durham, North Carolina, were dropped on Friday after the accuser told investigators she was uncertain about some details of the alleged attack. The sexual assault case's latest turn is not the final word as the players, who have maintained their innocence from the start, still face charges of kidnapping and sexual offense. Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong dismissed the rape charges a day after the accuser said she was not certain she had been vaginally penetrated by a penis as she had initially believed. Attorneys for the former players have often said the accuser's story has changed several times since the March 13 party where she was hired as a stripper.
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being
FULL GAME: Henry Sosa pitched nine innings for the Guardians, allowing only six hits all night, while the Monkeys’ offense were also shut out of their game Outfielder Lin An-ko carried a big bat this week — before his Uni-President Lions ran into the Fubon Guardians last night — blasting four home runs, including a grand slam as his side won four games in a row and moved into second on the CPBL table. However, the Lions could not sustain their super-charged offense for the whole week, as they were shut out 4-0 by the Guardians in New Taipei City. Fubon’s rookie catcher, Jhang Jin-de, took a page from Lin’s playbook. With two men on, Jhang smacked a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Henry Sosa of the Dominican Republic