Sun, Dec 24, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Sports Briefs

AGENCIES

■ Tennis

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.

■ Cricket

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.

■ RUGBY

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.

■ Soccer

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.

■ Olympics

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.

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