Review Category : National Sports

Cowboys Rookie Ezekiel Elliott Accused of Domestic Violence

Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images(DALLAS) — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is in hot water just weeks before the start of the preseason.

The 21-year-old rookie has been accused of assaulting a woman who claims to be his former live-in girlfriend, according to police reports obtained by ESPN. The woman says she was assaulted several times over the past week.

Elliott has denied the claims. The first-round pick has not been charged or arrested.

ESPN reports the Cowboys are aware of the accusations, and a league representative says the NFL will review the case.

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IOC Releases More Positive Doping Results

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More athletes have been caught using banned substances ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Friday that after reanalyzing samples from the previous two Summer Games — Beijing 2008 and London 2012 — 45 more athletes were found to have tested positive for prohibited substances. This brings the total number to 98 after two waves of reanalysis.

“The third and fourth waves are expected to continue throughout and after the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” the IOC said.

Of the 45 athletes who failed in the latest wave, 30 competed in Beijing, 23 of whom were medalists. The remaining 15 competed in London and represented two sports.

The IOC has not released the athletes’ names nor identified their countries.

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Sprint Cup Series Comes to the Brickyard This Weekend

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Sprint Cup Series season rolls on this weekend with a visit to one of auto racing’s most notable tracks.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday afternoon. NBCSN’s coverage of the race begins at 3 p.m. ET.

As previously reported, Jeff Gordon will fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms.

Last week’s winner, Matt Kenseth, was penalized 15 driver points this week after his car failed a post-race inspection following his victory at New Hampshire.

Kevin Harvick is the points leader entering Sunday’s race, with a 14-point edge over Brad Keselowski.

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Scoreboard Roundup — 7/21/16

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay 7, Oakland 3
Baltimore 4, N-Y Yankees 1
Boston 13, Minnesota 2
Detroit 2, Chi White Sox 1 (7 Innings, shortened due to rain)

NATIONAL LEAGUE

St. Louis 6, San Diego 5
Colorado 7, Atlanta 3
L.A. Dodgers 6, Washington 3
Miami 9, Philadelphia 3
Pittsburgh 5, Milwaukee 3

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Ray Rice Vows to Donate Salary if Signed by NFL Team in 2016

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice says he would give up his entire salary if an NFL team signs him this season.

The running back, out of football since his suspension during the 2014 season for striking his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator, made the promise in a story posted to the USA Today website.

“All the scrutiny that I’ve got, it was deserved,” Rice admitted, “because domestic violence is a horrible thing.”

The 29-year-old played six seasons in Baltimore and made three Pro Bowls. He was suspended indefinitely in September 2014 after video of him punching his then-fiancee in an elevator surfaced. That suspension was later overturned by a neutral arbitrator, but Rice was released by the Ravens and no other team signed him.

“Me donating my salary is something that’ll be from the heart for me,” Rice told USA Today. “I only want to play football so I can end it the right way for my kids and for the people that really believed in me.”

“But,” he said, “I know there’s a lot of people affected by domestic violence, and every dollar helps. It’s raising awareness.”

“I’m not saying I’d be [donating the salary] to get on the field,” Rice clarified, “but it’s something that will show where my heart is.”

“I think the biggest donation that you can give to domestic violence is your time,” Rice told USA Today. “I’m not just going to be giving it because I have money. I’m going to be giving it because I did the background and the research and spect a lot of time with people who understand the cause.”

Rice also pointed out that awareness is key to preventing domestic violence. “It’s an epidemic,” Rice said. “I know that my situation raised awareness. I’m not thankful for being that guy, but I’m thankful for the people that now are not afraid to ask for help, because I had to go get the help myself after to realize the severity of what domestic violence is.”

Rice and his now-wife Janay married soon after his indictment in the 2014 incident. They have a four-year-old daughter and a second child due in September.

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NBA Won’t Hold 2017 All-Star Game in North Carolina

Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — The NBA is exploring alternative host cities for its 2017 All-Star Game now that it has decided to remove the game from North Carolina, ESPN reports.

The league announced its decision not to hold the event in North Carolina Thursday. It had been considering the move over its objection to North Carolina House Bill 2, which limited anti-discrimination protections in the state. Sources told ESPN that cities including New York, Brooklyn and Chicago “have become options” for the All-Star Game.

In a statement Thursday, the NBA noted that the league and the Charlotte Hornets “have been working diligently [since March] to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change.” The league says it hopes to reschedule an All-Star Game in Charlotte for 2019, though it is not clear if that would require changes to the current law.

“We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league,” the NBA statement reads. “These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.”

After the owners’ meetings earlier in July, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the league was considering its options. The league had requested changes to the law, but with the North Carolina legislature on summer hiatus, time for such changes is short.

Yahoo’s The Vertical reported Thursday that the league was on the verge of pulling the game from Charlotte, and that New Orleans could be a frontrunner to play host.

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NBA Considering Other Cities to Host 2017 All-Star Game

Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — The NBA is exploring alternative host cities for its 2017 All-Star Game if it decides to remove the game from North Carolina, ESPN reports.

The league had not yet made a decision on whether or not the event would be held in North Carolina, but was considering the move over its objection to North Carolina House Bill 2, which limited anti-discrimination protections in the state. Sources told ESPN that cities including New York, Brooklyn and Chicago “have become options” if the league decides not to hold its event in the Tarheel State.

After the owners’ meetings earlier in July, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the league was considering its options. The league had request changes to the law, but with the North Carolina legislature on summer hiatus, time for such changes is short.

Yahoo’s The Vertical reported Thursday that the league was on the verge of pulling the game from Charlotte, and that New Orleans could be a frontrunner to play host.

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George Washington Basketball Coach Accused of Creating “Offensive, Intolerable Environment’

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — George Washington University basketball coach Mike Lonergan routinely abused players verbally and emotionally, a report in the Washington Post detailed Thursday.

The report cites interviews with former athletes and staff members, as well as a complaint logged to a campus Title IX coordinator after this past season. In those complaints, Lonergan is alleged to have created an “offensive, intolerable environment.” The player who filed the complaint noted that he had heard of previous issues under Lonergan before.

A follow-up email to the Title IX coordinator, Rory Muhammad, was obtained by the Washington Post. In it, the player writes that the issues brought up concern him and his teammates “because it seems as if nothing was taken seriously. This worries me because if I (and others) choose to leave the University, word of Coach Lonergan’s verbal and emotional abuse, as well as player mistreatment would eventually be known among the greater community.”

Three players have transferred out of the GW basketball program each of the last four years, and 13 total have transferred since Lonergan took over five season ago.

The Post quotes one former player who says that he doesn’t believe Lonergan should be in sports. “I don’t think what he said should be tolerated. I would like to stay at GW. I will not play for Mike Lonergan.”

Lonergan responded to the story, the Post says, with an emailed statement vowing not to respond to “anonymous, unfounded allegations.”

“These types of accusations have already been investigated by the University and found to be groundless,” he added.

One former player, according to the Post, said he needed therapy to cope after his time playing for Lonergan.

One former member of the George Washington basketball staff said, “A lot of kids transfer because they have delusions of grandeur. Nobody transferred from GW with delusions of grandeur. They just transferred because they hated him. They couldn’t stand another second of him.”

The Post reported that allegations of abuse against Lonergan during the 2014-15 season prompted a meeting between the coach and administrators, who requested practice film to examine Lonergan’s actions. After associate athletics director Ed Scott began to travel with George Washington last season, Lonergan began to target athletic director Patrick Nero, according to one former player who spoke to the Post and expanded on his comments to ESPN.

“The stuff (Lonergan) has said about the athletic director made everybody uncomfortable,” the player told ESPN.

The player said Lonergan routinely accused players of engaging in sexual relationships with Nero.

“It was very odd,” the former player said. “He had this weird obsession.”

In early April, the former player met with Nero to discuss a variety of concerns, including inappropriate comments Lonergan allegedly made on a recruit’s visit in October and during private conversations. He and other former players who spoke to the Post said Lonergan created an awkward and intimidating environment.

That resulted in a Title IX investigation since Title IX refers to sexual harassment of any kind.

In an email the former player shared with ESPN, Nero said, “I appreciate you stopping in today to let me know of your conversation with Coach Lonergan in the fall and your concerns with this conversation. Obviously, this was not something that was easy to share.”

According to the email, Nero told the former player he would confidentially share their exchange with Rory Muhammad, the school’s Title IX coordinator. A week after his meeting with Nero, the former player emailed Muhammad afterward to express concerns that “it seems as if nothing was taken seriously.”

The former player said Muhammad ultimately told him the program had handled everything internally, which he viewed as a failure to take action against the coach who signed an extension through the 2020-21 season after a successful 2013-14 campaign.

The player then left the school.

“One day, I said I have to do something,” the former player told ESPN of his decision to publicize the accusations against Lonergan. “I don’t think it’s fair that people have to leave the school they love. The Title IX coordinator didn’t protect athletes.”

George Washington President Steven Knapp responded to the Post story in a statement, saying, “Whenever and wherever we receive an allegation of misconduct, we conduct a fair and thorough investigation, and we take action as appropriate on the basis of what that investigation reveals. Investigations take time, and I don’t think anyone ever benefits from a rush to judgment in advance of the facts.”

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Manfred: MLB Could Consider Restriction on Relief Pitcher Use

Commissioner Rob Manfred prior to a regular season Sunday Night Baseball game (Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)(NEW YORK) — Major League Baseball could soon restrict the number of different pitchers teams use per game.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was a guest on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike Thursday morning, and listened to nine suggestions from the hosts on how to potentially improve the sport. One of those suggestions included a restriction on relief pitchers allowed either per inning or per game.

“I am in favor of something like that,” the commissioner said, adding that the league has spent “a ton of time on this issue in the last few months.”

Manfred also said that relief pitchers have become too dominant in the modern game. “The pitching changes themselves slow the game down,” he said, “and our relief pitchers have become so dominant at the back end that they actually rob action out of the end of the game, the last few innings of the game.”

The average length of a Major League Baseball game this season has been three hours and four minutes. In 2005, the average game was just two hours and 49 minutes.

Manfred said earlier this year that he was unhappy with the pace of games, and would entertain “creative ways” to improve the sport.

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Court Upholds Olympic Ban on Russian Track and Field Athletes

iStock/Thinktock(MOSCOW) — In an intensely watched decision, sport’s highest appeals court has ruled against Russian track and field athletes seeking to overturn a ban barring them from this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The ruling is a major setback for Russia as it awaits a decision from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on whether to ban all Russian athletes from the games over alleged state-run doping. This court decision potentially removes a major legal obstacle to the complete ban.

Since the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday recommended Russia be barred for what it said was an extraordinary state-controlled cover up of doping by Russian athletes, the IOC has faced intense pressure to ban the country from the Olympics.

The decision Thursday is seen as significant because it potentially sets a precedent that collective bans are legitimate and do not necessarily violate individual athletes’ rights, meaning that an IOC ban on Russia from the Olympics could be valid.

With the IOC decision looming, Russian authorities cancelled a traditional ceremonial send-off for the country’s Olympic team on Thursday, saying they would wait to see what happened.

The court decision upholding the track and field ban came from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. In a statement read outside the court, it said its three-man tribunal had “confirmed the validity” of a decision that suspended all Russian track and field athletes from competing in Brazil.

The court was ruling on a decision in June by track and field’s top international body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), to keep Russia’s national track and field federation suspended during Rio. That IAAF decision said the state encouragement of doping in Russian sports was so extensive that no Russian track and field athletes could be permitted to compete at the Olympics, except for those able to meet strict criteria that proved they were clean.

Russia’s Olympic Committee and sixty-eight track and field athletes challenged that suspension on the grounds that it violated individual athletes’ rights, who had never been caught doping. But on Thursday, the CAS ruled the IAAF decision will stand.

The IAAF created the exception for those who could prove they were clean when it imposed the blanket suspension, calling it a “tiny crack” through which a handful of Russian track and field athletes could be allowed compete under a neutral flag — if they could show they were not “tainted” by the country’s systemic doping and could submit sufficient clean tests taken outside Russia. Sixty-seven of the Russian athletes appealed their rejections. But the IAAF though has so far allowed just two athletes through this loophole, rejecting the vast majority of other applications.

The CAS on Thursday also dismissed the appeals of those rejected by IAAF, confirming that virtually Russia’s entire track field team is excluded.

The ruling does not prevent other organization from making their own decisions. The court noted that its ruling was not binding on the IOC and said as the chief organizer it would still be up to the Olympic body to make a final decision on who would attend, leaving open the possibility that some Russian athletes could still be permitted to go.

“The door is open for the IOC to decide, to determine even on a case-by-case principle whether these athletes are eligible or not,” CAS general secretary Mattieu Reeb told reporters outside the court headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The tribunal also expressed concern that the IAAF criteria retrospectively requiring Russian athletes to have effectively trained outside the country was not just.

Russian officials nonetheless reacted to the ruling with indignation and largely hopelessness that track and field athletes would go. A spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, called it a “crime against sport.”

In a lengthy news conference, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said the decision “absolutely violates the rights of clean sportsmen,” and railed against the IAAF, whose former leadership is currently under criminal investigation.

“The International Federation is completely corrupted,” Mutko said on Russian state television. “IAAF’s behavior and stubbornness disturbs me to the depths of my soul. There is a criminal investigation open into its former president.”

Mutko said he thought ruling was “political and without legal basis,” but said it created “some precedent” that could affect the IOC’s decision.

The head of Russia’s track and field federation, Mikhail Butov, told Russian state TV that he thought there was now little chance the block on his athletes competing could be lifted.

The decision is a heavy blow for Russia’s track and field athletes, who insist they were not part of the doping system the country has been accused of running.

Speaking after the decision, the two-time Olympic champion pole-vaulter, Elena Isinbaeva, bitterly thanked the court for “track and field’s funeral” and told the TASS state news agency the ruling was a “purely political order.”

Most of Russia’s track and field athletes were gathered competing at the country’s national track and field competition outside Moscow. High-jumper Maria Kuchina, 23, told R-Sport she still hoped for something and was determined to still show a good result. Kuchina was one of Russia’s best medal hopes and has a clean doping record.

Ekaterina Koneva, a triple-jumper, said the decision made her feel “just emptiness.”

“Complete devastation. There isn’t anything else,” Koneva told the Russian sports site, Championat.ru.

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