Two athletes disqualified
Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr and Polish bobsledder Daniel Zalewski were on Wednesday sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for failing drug controls at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Duerr, 27, has been disqualified from the men’s skiathlon, in which he finished eighth, after testing positive on Feb. 22 for the banned substance recombinant erythropoietin (EPO). Zalewski tested positive for the stimulant phenethylamine on Feb. 23 and has also been disqualified. The Polish four-man team placed 27th. Austria’s ski federation confirmed that Duerr would be barred from the federation for life. The Polish federation has yet to decide on an eventual suspension for Zalewski. Seven athletes tested positive in Sochi, but Swedish ice hockey star Nicklas Backstrom was later cleared of wrongdoing by the IOC and allowed to keep his silver medal.
Aussies to tackle Kiwis first
Australia are to open their Four Nations rugby league tournament defense against New Zealand in a double-header at Brisbane on Oct. 25. Tournament officials said yesterday that England would play either Fiji or Samoa in the second game. The two Pacific Island countries are to play off on May 2 at Penrith in western Sydney for a place in the tournament. New Zealand are to play Fiji or Samoa in Whangarei, New Zealand, on Nov. 1, with Australia scheduled to take on England in Melbourne the following day. New Zealand are to host England in Dunedin, New Zealand, on Nov. 8 and Australia are to play Fiji or Samoa in Wollongong, Australia, on Nov. 9. The final is to be played in Wellington, New Zealand, on Nov. 15.
Cyclocross ‘ideal for winter’
International Cycling Union (UCI) president Brian Cookson said on Wednesday that cyclocross could make the transition from the Summer Olympics to the Winter Games. The 62-year-old Englishman said in a speech at the SportAccord Convention in Belek, Turkey, that cyclocross was ideal for the switch as it was a sport that took place over the winter. “In my own sport’s case, I have publicly advocated that a discipline like cyclocross would be an ideal addition to the Winter Games,” Cookson said.” It takes place during the northern hemisphere winter, it offers equal medal opportunities for men and women, infrastructure costs to install a circuit are minimal and the first across the line principle is clear. And above all, it is a sport that reaches out to an incredibly wide cross-section of the population.” Cookson, whose remark that judo could also move to the Winter Games was ridiculed by that sport’s federation head last week, said it would be a provocative debate, but that sports heads needed to be more imaginative.
Symphony for Hillsborough
British composer Michael Nyman has created a symphony in memory of the 96 soccer fans killed in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, the city of Liverpool announced on Wednesday. Nyman, who wrote the soundtrack to the 1993 film The Piano, hopes that Symphony No. 11: “Hillsborough Memorial” will help the families of the bereaved with the healing process. The symphony is to be performed at Liverpool Cathedral on July 5. On April 15, 1989, at the start of an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, northern England, Liverpool fans were crushed to death on an overcrowded terrace.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker found himself in need of an assist to help the state fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He called on the New England Patriots. One of the team’s private airplanes on Thursday evening landed in Boston after returning from China carrying more than 1 million masks critical to healthcare providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus. Members of the Massachusetts National Guard met the airplane and offloaded the containers of masks onto waiting trucks for transport to warehouses for distribution. Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers, but had no way of getting them to the US. He
WAIT AND SEE: The estimated cost of postponement started at US$2 billion and has kept rising, but the IOC has yet to say whether it would help pay for the extra expenses Postponing the Tokyo Olympics to next year would make the event more costly for all parties, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged on Thursday, although it offered few details on what the final bill might be. Four directors of the Olympic body held a conference call three days after Tokyo’s new dates were finalized, with the Games pushed back to July 23 to Aug. 8 next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the new dates cleared up any uncertainty about the event’s future, there are still plenty of question marks as the committee begins to work with Tokyo organizers and the
MEDIA RUMORS? With no pay agreement secured and players’ representatives calling for more financial information ahead of talks, the sport had another week of bad press Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle could be sacked in a matter of days, media reported yesterday, as the embattled governing body struggles to deal with a financial crisis compounded by a shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Castle this week took a 50 percent pay cut and laid off 75 percent of Rugby Australia (RA) staff members, saying that the body would face losses of up to A$120 million (US$71.95 million) if no more rugby was played this year. With no pay agreement secured with the players and their representatives calling on RA to provide more financial information ahead of negotiations, the
OLYMPICS Delay pushes rower to retire British rowing gold medalist Tom Ransley on Friday announced his retirement after deciding that the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to next year was a step too far. The 34-year-old was part of the men’s eight who won gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics and also a bronze in the 2012 London Games. “I have used up everything I had and I know that to get myself in the necessary condition to compete for a seat in 2021 is a step too far,” he told the BBC. The years of early starts, of three training