Vinokourov wins Stage 4
Alexandre Vinokourov won Thursday's fourth stage at the Dauphine Libere, beating six-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong into fourth place. Vinokourov finished the 182km ascent up Frances Mont Ventoux 6 seconds faster than Jose Gomez Marchante and 16 seconds quicker than Wim Van Huffel. Armstrong was 37 seconds behind Vinokourov, who was third at the 2003 Tour de France and -- along with T-Mobile teammate Jan Ullrich -- may be challenging this year. "I'm a little disappointed," said Armstrong, who will retire after the July 2-24 Tour. "I wouldn't say it was great. I wouldn't even say it was good."
Mourinho loses appeal
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho lost an appeal on Thursday against a 5,000-pound (7,200 euros) fine for alleging that Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson tried to influence a referee during a match between the teams. Mourinho was charged with improper conduct by the Football Association because of comments he made in a television interview after Jan. 12's 0-0 draw in the first leg of a League Cup semifinal. Mourinho accused Ferguson of talking to and influencing referee Neale Barry at halftime. "The referee controlled the game in one way during the first half but in the second [Manchester United] had dozens of free kicks. It was fault [foul] after fault, dive after dive," he told Chelsea TV at the time. The FA said an appeal board hearing dismissed Mourinho's appeal on Thursday. Mourinho last season coached Chelsea to its first league title since 1955.
Ragone, Scanlon MVPs
Berlin Thunder quarterback Dave Ragone and linebacker teammate Rich Scanlon have been named the Most Valuable Players in NFL Europe. The Admirals' Bart Andrus was named coach of the year in the NFL's Europe-based developmental league. The Admirals and Thunder play today in the World Bowl -- the league championship game -- at the LTU Arena in Duesseldorf, Germany. NFL Europe also named its all-league team on Thursday. The Hamburg Sea Devils led with nine selections. Ragone, allocated by the Houston Texans, set an NFL Europe record by throwing 176 passes before yielding an interception.
Liverpool can defend title
Liverpool will be allowed to defend its Champions League title, but will have to begin play in the first qualifying round. European soccer's governing body announced the decision yesterday after the 14-member executive committee agreed to make a special case for the five-time European champions. Despite beating AC Milan on penalties in the final in Istanbul last month, Liverpool was unable to gain an automatic spot in next season's competition. Under UEFA's rules, the champion didn't automatically qualify. The top four in the English Premier League qualify, and Liverpool finished only fifth. Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton qualified automatically.