Cyst rules out Basso
Two-time winner Ivan Basso has pulled out of the Giro d’Italia two days before the race starts due to a cyst. Race organizers Gazzetta dello Sport say Basso’s problem is located in the seat area. Basso won the Giro in 2006 and 2010 and was considered one of the outside favorites for this year’s race, which starts in Naples tomorrow. Basso rides for the Cannondale squad. The favorites are Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali.
Rujano dropped from Giro
Venezuelan climber Jose Rujano has been dropped from the Vacansoleil team for the Tour of Italy as a precaution due to his implication in a doping case. Rujano, who finished third at the Giro in 2005, was named in an inquiry into a doping case in Italy relating to 2009 and 2010.Vacansoleil say he has not taken a banned substance, but they preferred to play it safe. “The products concerning Rujano are not on the banned list. If we stick to the rules, he could race, but we preferred not to take a risk,” the Dutch team’s manager Daan Luijkx said. The 31-year-old has been replaced by Belgian debutant Willem Wauters. Meanwhile, former top-five finisher in the Tour de France Robert Gesink will lead the Blanco team. The 26-year-old climbing specialist, who has finished in the top 10 three times at the Tour of Spain, has been given a goal of finishing in the top five in Italy, his team said. Former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of Australia will be part of the BMC team.
Scottish veteran dies
Bill Young, Scotland’s oldest surviving rugby international and a member of the 1938 Five Nations Triple Crown-winning side, has died aged 96. Young, a doctor by profession, was capped 10 times at flanker between 1937 and 1948 although he would undoubtedly have played more but for World War II. Young, who played club rugby for London Scottish and Harlequins, took the decision to become a missionary apparently after meeting fellow Scot and sportsman turned missionary Eric Liddell, whose Olympic triumph over 400m at the 1924 Games was immortalized in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire. Young’s last cap was in 1948, when he scored a try in the 6-3 win over England at Murrayfield. He called time on his international career shortly after that and emigrated to Kenya to focus on his missionary work, although rugby did not elude him altogether, as he was capped twice by East Africa. He returned to the United Kingdom in the 1950s when his first wife became seriously ill and focused on his medical practice.
Lillard named top rookie
Guard Damian Lillard, who was the Portland Trail Blazers’ sixth overall draft pick last year, was named on Wednesday as the National Basketball Association’s top rookie. Lillard was a unanimous selection for the award after averaging 19.0 points and 6.5 assists in 82 games this past season. He beat out New Orleans Hornets center Anthony Davis and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal who finished second and third in voting by North American sportswriters. The point guard is the fourth member of the Trail Blazers to win the award. He joins Geoff Petrie (1971), Sidney Wicks (1972) and Brandon Roy (2007).
Deco benched after dope test
Midfielder Deco did not travel to Ecuador with Fluminense yesterday for their first-left last-16 Copa Libertadores clash with Emelec after testing positive for a banned substance. The former Barcelona, Chelsea and Portugal player tested positive on Tuesday for the masking agent furosemide, media reported. “On the reports linked to midfielder Deco’s anti-doping test, Fluminense will only make a statement on Friday, May 3, when the B sample comes out,” the Brazilian champions said in a brief statement on their Web site. “My career goes back 18 years, 15 of them in Europe, without any problems,” said Deco, who claimed vitamins he takes were contaminated by a pharmacy. “I’ve always taken vitamins and never made use of anything illegal. I spoke to my lawyer and I’m going to wait for the B sample before saying anything. I’ll go to as far as necessary to clarify the facts,” the 35-year-old was quoted as saying by Gazeta Esportiva.
Sessegnon ban upheld
Sunderland attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon will miss the rest of the season after his appeal against a three-match ban for his dismissal against Aston Villa on Monday was rejected, the FA said on Wednesday. The 28-year-old Benin international was shown a straight red card after catching Villa midfielder Yacouba Sylla with a challenge during the second half of a Premier League game at Villa Park, which Sunderland lost 6-1. Speaking after the game, Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio criticized referee Lee Probert’s decision to send Sessegnon off. “There was nothing in it,” Di Canio said. “The leg was not straight. He didn’t want to cause any damage to his opponent. The referee fell in a trap. It wasn’t a nasty action.” Sunderland’s defeat left them level on 37 points with Villa and Newcastle United, five points above the relegation zone with three matches left.
AIK ’keeper found dead
Soccer club AIK’s Croatian goalkeeper Ivan Turina has been found dead in his northern Stockholm apartment, local media reported yesterday. “I can confirm that Ivan Turina is dead, but there are no suspicions of crime,” police spokesman Patrik Nuss was quoted as saying by the Aftonbladet newspaper. The 32-year-old Croatian signed for AIK in 2010 and played 65 league games for the Solna club. He is survived by his wife and two one-year-old daughters.
Benitez mum on Mourinho
Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez on Wednesday refused to be drawn on speculation that Jose Mourinho is poised to return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to replace him in. Mourinho is expected to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season and dropped a hint that he may return tohis former club after Madrid were eliminated from the Champions League by Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. Benitez has accepted that he will leave Chelsea when his temporary contract expires at the end of the season, but was reluctant to address rumors about the identity of his successor. Speaking ahead of the return leg of his side’s Europa League semi-final with Swiss side Basel, Benitez said: “It’s not my business. I have to concentrate on my business, which is with Basel tomorrow.” Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata also shied away from discussing the matter, but did give his backing to Benitez, who has faced protests from some of the club’s fans since he was appointed last year. “All I can say is that we’re working really, really well with Rafa and that’s the truth for me,” Mata said.