Kaisa Varis banned for life
Finnish biathlete Kaisa Varis was given a lifetime ban on Monday by the International Biathlon Union (IBU) for using the blood booster EPO. The IBU announced the decision after a meeting in connection with the ongoing world championships in Ostersund in northern Sweden. Varis tested positive for EPO after an event at Oberhof, Germany, on Jan. 6 and the "B" sample confirmed the finding. As a cross-country skier, Varis also tested positive for EPO in 2003 during a competition in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and was given a two-year ban. She was excluded from the 2006 Winter Olympics by Finland's Olympic committee, switched sports and took up biathlon.
Trapattoni tipped for top job
Ireland are expected to name former Italy manager Giovanni Trapattoni as their new coach today. The Football Association of Ireland has called a board meeting for today, most likely to confirm the appointment of a successor to Steve Staunton. Former England manager Terry Venables was also among the candidates for the position, which became vacant in November when Staunton was fired for failing to guide Ireland to the European Championship, but Irish newspapers have reported that Trapattoni will take the post in May when his contract with FC Salzburg expires. The three-man selection panel of Don Givens, Ray Houghton and Don Howe was reported to have met with the 68-year-old Trapattoni on Sunday.
Ufuk Talay to play in Japan
Sydney FC midfielder Ufuk Talay will play for Japanese second division outfit Avispa Fukuoka on a year's contract, the A-League club said yesterday. Talay, who played in the first three A-League seasons with Sydney FC, winning the championship under Pierre Littbarski in 2006, will arrive in Japan on Friday. The 31-year-old dead-ball specialist returned to Sydney in 2005 after playing 10 seasons in Turkey. Talay follows former Sydney FC captain and defender Mark Rudan to play in Japan.
Three events included
Asia's top golfers will be able to put money won at the US Open, British Open and the HSBC Champions tournaments towards this year's Order of Merit, officials said yesterday. Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla-han said 50 percent of players' earnings from the three events will be included in the merit race. "The decision to count earnings won from these events is to recognize our players' efforts and to provide them with added incentive to excel on the world stage," he said. Asian players can reach the two majors through international qualifying, while the top five on the merit list are eligible for the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
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Spies nears return to action
Springbok No. 8 Pierre Spies is expected to return to full training at the end of the month after spending seven months on the sidelines. A statement issued by the Blue Bulls on Monday said the province's doctor was satisfied with Spies's recovery and as long as everything went to plan he would start to take part in contact sessions at the end of the month. The 22-year-old loose forward was withdrawn from the World Cup squad in July after being diagnosed with blood clots on his lungs. No date for his competitive return has been set.