France star hospitalized
France center Mathieu Bastareaud’s problems worsened on Monday when his club president Max Guazzini revealed that he had been hospitalized because of serious psychological problems. The 20-year-old Stade Francais star admitted last week that he had invented a story about being assaulted outside his hotel in Wellington, New Zealand, following a 14-10 defeat in the second Test. Guazzini said that instead of going on a holiday to the West Indies as had been planned Bastareaud — cousin of Arsenal and France defender William Gallas — had instead been admitted to hospital and would stay there for at least a fortnight. Guazzini, though, said that the massive press interest had affected the player. “He is completely devastated, he has to be left alone,” Guazzini said.
Star sentenced in absentia
A Fijian player was sentenced in absentia to three weeks in jail for assaulting a police officer when he was in Hong Kong for a Rugby Sevens tournament, a news report said yesterday. The sentence overturned an earlier fine of HK$500 imposed on Paula Maisiri for his part in a mass brawl in Hong Kong’s nightclub district in March. Maisiri grabbed a police constable by the throat and punched him in the face as police tried to disperse a brawl involving rugby players, security guards and other bar-goers, according to court testimony. The Department of Justice called the original light sentence “manifestly inadequate” and ordered a review by Hong Kong’s Eastern Court. At Monday’s hearing, the fine was set aside and replaced by a three-week jail term and an arrest order, the South China Morning Post reported. The hearing took place in Maisiri’s absence and the jail term is only likely to be put into effect if he returns to Hong Kong, the newspaper said.
‘I wasn’t informer’: Popescu
Gheorghe ‘Gica’ Popescu, one of Romania’s best-known sportsmen, denied newspaper claims on Monday that he was an informer for the country’s secret police during the 1980s. The defender was part of a Romania side that qualified for three consecutive World Cups starting in 1990 and two European Championships. The 41-year-old said he once signed a document promising to “defend the national interests” during the regime of the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. “I signed a very general thing. My conscience isn’t clear, it’s very clear,” he said at a news conference. “I didn’t inform on anyone.” Newspaper Adevarul reported that Popescu had been an informant from 1986 until the regime was toppled three years later. Popescu called the report “a big lie.”
Former champ hurt in crash
Former world champion Luc Alphand has been seriously injured in a crash during a motorcycle rally, his agents said on Monday. The 43-year-old Frenchman sustained injuries to his spine while competing in the Rand’Auvergne rally in central France on Sunday and underwent an operation on Monday. “We think that he fractured his spine,” Alphand’s manager Philippe Poincioux said. “Mentally it’s a big blow for him knowing that he will be unable to move for some time. He is really down even though he knows he has been lucky it was not worse,” he said. The hospital later issued a statement saying that the operation had been successful but that Alphand would have to remain in hospital for up to 10 days. Alphand was the overall ski World Cup winner in 1997.