Two players sanctioned
The Czech Republic’s Frantisek Cermak and Slovakia’s Michal Mertinak, both doubles specialists, became the latest players to be banned and fined for betting on tennis matches, the ATP said on Monday. Cermak, 31, who does not have a singles ranking, was banned for 10 weeks from Monday and fined US$15,000, while world No. 616 Mertinak received a two-week suspension and a US$3,000 penalty. “An ATP investigation launched in November 2007 found that Mr Cermak had wagered on tennis matches during a period dating from 9 Sept. 2006 through 1 Feb. 2007,” the ATP said in a statement. “The same investigation found that Mr Mertinak had wagered on tennis matches during October of 2006.” The ATP said neither player had placed bets on his own matches and the independent hearing officer found no evidence of any intent to affect the outcome of any matches wagered upon. The ATP’s Anti-Corruption Program prohibits players and their entourage from betting on any form of tennis.
Jones asks for commutation
Disgraced sprinter Marion Jones has asked US President George W. Bush to commute her six-month prison sentence for lying to government agents about her use of performance-enhancing drugs and a check-fraud scam. The US Justice Department confirmed on Monday that Jones is among hundreds of convicted felons who have applied for presidential pardons or sentence commutations, but would provide no further details. A pardon is an official act of forgiveness that removes civil liabilities stemming from a criminal conviction, while a commutation reduces or eliminates a person’s sentence. Such applications are reviewed by the Justice Department, which makes a recommendation to the president. It’s unclear when Jones, who was stripped of the three gold and two bronze medals she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, made the request. She entered prison March 7 in Fort Worth, Texas. Jones was sentenced in January to six months in prison and 400 hours of community service in each of the two years following her release.
Locust threat recedes
The threat of a locust plague reaching Beijing during next month’s Olympics is easing as a campaign to blitz the pests in a region close to the capital takes effect, officials said. Farmers and officials at Duolun County in Inner Mongolia, 180km north of Beijing, have “virtually” eliminated the locusts and their larvae in the hardest-hit areas, Lu Zhanshan, who heads the local agricultural office, said in an interview yesterday. Inner Mongolia is experiencing one of most serious locust plagues in years. “We’re pretty confident that there won’t be any locust threat to Beijing,” Lu said.
Manager shows ref red card
An Austrian first division manager was so incensed with a referee that he brandished a red card at the official from the touchline. But Frenkie Schinkels’ unusual form of protest earned him his very own red card with the referee wasting no time in banishing the Austria Carinthie manager to the stands. Schinkels reached into his pocket to pull out the card that also cost him a fine after the referee in the game against Rapid Vienna on Saturday had made numerous “refereeing mistakes.” Schinkels told the local media that he carried a red card with him on the advice of his father. “I do less harm with it than when I open my mouth,” he said.