■ ICE HOCKEY
NHL approves rule changes
Four rule changes, three dealing with penalties and another with faceoffs, were approved by the National Hockey League (NHL) board of governors in New York on Wednesday starting with the 2007-2008 season. NHL leaders allowed referees to award any player on a breakaway a penalty shot as long as he was beyond his own team's blueline, rather than beyond the center line under the old rule. NHL referees were given discretion to award major penalties and game misconducts on injuries resulting from interference. Previously, interference calls could only bring minor penalties. Gross
misconduct was stricken from the rules, with any such extraordinary violation of decorum now falling under game misconducts, which when accumulated can lead to suspensions and fines. All faceoffs will now be conducted at one of the nine dots painted upon the rink. There were instances, such as when a puck went into the stands, when a faceoff restarted play on unmarked ice parallel to the nearest dot where the puck left the ice.
Seattle sign Chinese players
The Seattle Mariners signed two Chinese players on Wednesday, two days after the New York Yankees said they were the first major league team to sign players from China with the approval of that country's baseball association.
Infielder-outfielder Yu Bingjia and catcher Wei Wang (王偉), members of the Beijing Tigers in the China Baseball League and of China's national baseball team, signed minor league contracts. They will report to Seattle's summer league team in Australia when not fulfilling national team commitments this summer.
"We are very excited to enter into this new phase of our relationship with Chinese baseball," said Ted Heid, director of Pacific Rim operations for the Mariners, who have signed Japanese League stars Ichiro Suzuki and Kenji Johjima in the last six years.
Portland hire Larry Miller
Larry Miller, whose 10 years as an executive at shoemaker Nike included running the footwear division, was named the team president of the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Miller, most recently Nike's basketball division vice president and general manager, takes over the team with the top pick in next week's NBA Draft, expected to be used on US college star Greg Oden. "Larry is a pre-eminent figure in the basketball industry and one of the most widely respected sports professionals in the country," Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen said.
■ RUGBY UNION
Sowerby joins Toulouse
Stade Francais' South African backrow forward Shaun Sowerby has joined rival top French rugby union side Toulouse, the Pyrenean club reported on Wednesday. The 29-year-old, who has not played competitively since breaking his left ankle last October, has joined on a two year deal with an option of a one year extension. "We had the chance to sign him and we didn't let that opportunity go begging," Toulouse director Jean-Michel Rancoule said.
■ RUGBY UNION
Waratahs seek solution
The New South Wales Waratahs have responded to their poor Super 14 rugby season by seeking an attack-oriented coach and an independent selector to work with head coach Ewen McKenzie. The Waratahs endured one of their worst southern hemisphere provincial series, winning three games to finish only above Australian rivals Queensland Reds in this year's tournament. The New South Wales Rugby Board undertook a review of the season and endorsed four recommendations from the inquest. The Waratahs will advertise for an attack coach to work with McKenzie, add an independent member to the selection panel, form a rugby advisory panel and put its "High Performance Unit" under a complete review.
Pele's arms stolen
Vandals sawed the arms off a statue of Pele in Salvador, Brazil, and police are scouring scrap metal yards and art workshops looking for them. A bronze replica of the World Cup trophy, which had been held above the statue's head, was also missing, officials said on Wednesday. "The destruction of a landmark like this is a condemnable act," said Raimundo Nonato, the head of the Bahia state sports affairs department. "It is a tragedy and we are indignant." Police discovered the statue's arms were missing on Saturday and believe they were taken on Friday night, the Bahia state public safety department said.
Panathinaikos clinch title
European champion Panathinaikos beat rival Olympiakos 89-76 on Wednesday to win its fifth straight Greek league basketball title. Lithuania forward Ramunas Siskauskas led Panathinaikos with 16 points. The Athens club, which has won nine titles in the last 10 years, won the best-of-five playoff series 3-2. "This is a great result and it was a great game," Panathinaikos captain Frangiskos Alvertis said. "All credit to Olympiakos. They played very well in all of the five games." Last month, Panathinaikos won its fourth European championship, beating defending champion CSKA Moscow in Athens. Police arrested five fans before Wednesday's match, and detained 71 other supporters who were later released.
Bogus bags of air banned
A Chinese firm which once tried to sell land on the moon has been banned from a more down-to-earth venture of selling bags of "World Cup air" to fans hoping to recreate the soccer tournament's atmosphere. Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology lost a suit against the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce, which refused its application to sell "special air from a special place," Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday. A court last year ruled against the company's plan to sell green plastic bags full of air from stadiums that hosted matches in last year's soccer World Cup.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017