Aussies fire relay coach
Australia have axed the coach of their scandal-hit 4x100m freestyle relay team for the world championships as part of a wide-ranging shake-up after last year’s Olympics flop, officials said yesterday. John Fowlie, who oversaw a medal-less showing by the world champions in London, moves aside for Brant Best, coach of relay anchor man James Magnussen, Swimming Australia said. Fowlie’s demotion, ahead of the world championships in Barcelona in July, is the latest step of a rejig within Swimming Australia over the past six months following Australia’s worst Olympics swimming medal tally in 20 years. Last year Fowlie was in charge of the men’s sprint group that was favored to win gold in London, but missed a medal altogether, before being embroiled in a scandal over “bonding” practices involving a banned sleeping drug. Six swimmers including Magnussen, the world 100m freestyle champion, were fined and slapped with deferred suspensions after admitting taking Stilnox and playing pranks at a pre-Olympics training camp. Richard Scarce was appointed as Best’s assistant. Fowlie will work with the women’s 4x100m medley relay team. Denis Cotterell will guide the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team, while Simon Cusack takes over the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team, who are also defending a world title.
Juve, Atalanta get fines
Atalanta BC and Juventus have been fined 50,000 euros (US$65,500) apiece after fans threw fireworks and pelted each other with broken bathroom tiles, injuring five people, during Wednesday’s Serie A game in Bergamo. Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal said in its report that the conduct of the players and officials, who helped calm the supporters, prevented the clubs from receiving more severe sanctions. The tribunal added the fans were involved in “a mutual, intense and continuous throwing of fireworks and pieces of tiles ripped from the stadium toilets.” The report said that public authorities ordered the match to be stopped for eight minutes during the first half. Champions Juve eventually won the game 1-0. The tribunal also handed SSC Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri a fine of 5,000 euros for persistent dissent during Wednesday’s 3-0 win at Bologna.
Ellison to return to Japan
All Blacks center Tamati Ellison is to rejoin the Japanese club side Ricoh at the end of the Super Rugby season, adding to New Zealand’s concern about a drain of midfield talent. Ellison first won national selection in 2009 and left soon after to play in Japan, but returned last year to win back his All Blacks jersey. Of the current All Blacks centers, Conrad Smith is injured and Ma’a Nonu out of form. Richard Kahui will play in Japan next season if he overcomes a shoulder injury and Rene Ranger is due to take up a contract in France.
Perez, Button at ‘peace’
Sergio Perez says he has made peace with teammate Jenson Button and their McLaren bosses after twice hitting Button during the Bahrain Grand Prix last month. Perez said on Thursday they should both “respect each other a bit more” in order to make McLaren more competitive at tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix. McLaren, who replaced Lewis Hamilton with Perez, have made a dismal start to the season. Button is in 10th place with Perez in 11th, and they have only one top-five finish between them.