Sports Briefs

AGENCIES AND STAFF WRITER

Mon, Feb 23, 2009 - Page 18

■BASEBALL

Yankees’ scandal grows

In another shock steroid distraction for an already-reeling New York Yankees squad, the son of team vice president Felipe Lopez Jr was arrested in 2002 for having steroids, reports said on Saturday. The news comes four days after Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez opened the team’s pre-season training camp by answering questions about his doping from 2001 through 2003. On top of that comes the report that Felipe Lopez III served 19 months of probation after pleading guilty to reduced charges in 2003 following his arrest for trafficking in a banned date-rape drug used by athletes for muscle recovery and for possession of anabolic steroids. Lopez III was arrested at his Tampa home in 2002 as part of a US Drug Enforcement Administration operation for trafficking in GBL — a chemical related to the date rape drug GHB. Also in that raid, police found vials of anabolic steroids, a shotgun and papers referring to chemicals used to make the drug Ecstasy. Lopez III was also arrested in 2005 on a battery charge for allegedly punching his former girlfriend, a case that was later dropped.

■BASEBALL

MLB probes Nats staffer

Washington Nationals special assistant Jose Rijo is taking a leave of absence after a MLB investigation revealed a prospect he discovered was older than originally believed. Rijo, a former top pitcher in the majors, now works under Nats general manager Jim Bowden. On Wednesday, it was announced that prospect Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez of the Dominican Republic lied about his age and name. Rijo has been credited with spotting Gonzalez about two years before the Nationals signed him. Gonzalez received a US$1.4 million signing bonus in 2006 when the Nationals signed what they thought was a 16-year-old shortstop. The Nationals had been listing his date of birth as Sept. 21, 1989. But Kasten said an MLB investigation determined Gonzalez is actually Carlos David Alvarez Lugo, born in November 1985 — meaning he is really 23.

■ATHLETICS

Bolt wins another

Olympic sprint sensation Usain Bolt continued his early season preparation with another comfortable 400m victory on Saturday at Jamaica’s National Stadium. Running out of lane five in the timed-final 400m at the University of West Indies Invitational, Bolt won in 45.54 seconds, an improvement on the 46.35 seconds he ran last weekend.

■BIATHLON

Russia win championships

Russia won the women’s relay at the biathlon world championships in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Saturday, with defending champions Germany in second and France in third. Russia prevailed despite missing Ekaterina Iourieva and Albina Akhatova, who were kicked out of this year’s world championships for doping. The quartet of Svetlana Sleptsova, Anna Boulygina, Olga Medvedtseva and Olga Zaitseva stayed clear of the penalty loop to win in a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 12.9 seconds.

■BOBSLED

Britons win in New York

Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke of Britain won the women’s bobsled competition in the world championships at Mount Van Hoevenberg, New York, on Saturday. The duo edged Shauna Rohbock and Elana Meyers of the US by 0.38 seconds. Germany took the bronze, having captured six of seven golds since women began competing at world championships in 2000. The British champions finished the four runs in 3 minutes, 48.22 seconds.

■SOCCER

Man United bans autographs

Manchester United has banned its players from signing autographs for fans at the team’s training ground.

The decision was communicated to fans in the matchday program for Saturday’s 2-1 win over Blackburn. “I offer apologies to fans who come to the Carrington training ground looking for autographs, because we have had to ask players not to stop and sign your books,” United manager Alex Ferguson wrote. “The problem is that we have had too many opportunists selling on signed merchandise. They are not fans at all, and we have taken this action in order to stop the practice. We hope that you understand our decision.” Five years ago, United imposed a similar ban, which was primarily aimed at sports memorabilia dealers.

■SOCCER

Gunmen kill fans in Nigeria

Gunmen ambushed a busload of soccer fans travelling to a match in southern Nigeria on Saturday and killed at least six in an apparent revenge attack, police and local officials said. The supporters were travelling from Yenegoa in Bayelsa state to neighboring Delta state. Local officials said the execution-style killings appeared to be in retaliation for a nightclub shooting in Yenegoa on Friday. “The fans coming to Delta were ambushed and shot. Eight were killed and seven were injured and are in hospital,” Delta state police spokesman Charles Muka said. A senior Bayelsa state government official who visited the scene said he had seen six bodies being taken to the mortuary in the nearby town of Ughelli. Another local official put the death toll among the “Ocean Boys” soccer supporters at 13. Bayelsa and Delta are two of the main states in Nigeria’s restive Niger Delta, where criminal gangs and militant groups regularly ambush vehicles and carry out kidnappings. The government official said the killings appeared to be part of a feud between rival “cults,” a word often used in Nigeria to refer to university campus gangs originally sponsored by politicians to commit abuses at election time.

■CRICKET

Helicopter halts play

A helicopter stopped play in a domestic cricket game in India after the pilot mistook the pitch for a landing pad, local media reported yesterday. Players were forced to abort Saturday’s one-day game and scurry for cover when the hapless pilot set the chopper down on the letter ‘H’ painted in the corner of the cricket ground. The ‘H’ stands for the name of the Himachal Pradesh team in the north-west Indian state. A fire near the stadium also added to the confusion of the pilot, who misinterpreted it for smoke signals, the Hindustan Times said. The unscheduled arrival of the helicopter, owned by a private airline, halted play for almost half an hour before the red-faced pilot buzzed off again. “It landed suddenly. No one knew what was happening,” the competing Punjab team manager told the paper after his side won the interrupted game. “There was chaos. Everyone ran for cover.”

■CRICKET

Contract blow for cursing Nel

Controversial pace bowler Andre Nel has missed out on a national contract by Cricket South Africa, the national governing body said on Saturday. Nel, 31, is currently suspended after two separate swearing incidents. During 2003 he was sent home from a South Africa A tour of Australia after a drunk driving incident. Later in the year during a tour of the West Indies he was found guilty of smoking marijuana. He has played 36 Tests and 70 one-day internationals.