Review Category : National Sports

Kyle Larson’s Team Penalized for Failed Inspection

Allen Kee / ESPN Images(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) — NASCAR has penalized Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team for violations stemming for a post-race inspection last weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

Interim crew chief Philip Surgen was fined 25 thousand dollars, NASCAR.com reports. In addition, the team was penalized 15 championship driver points and 15 championship owner points.

It was previously reported that the No. 42 car failed at the laser station following last Sunday’s Sprint Cup event.

Larson finished third in Sunday’s race. He was working with an interim crew chief, with his usual crew chief, Chad Johnston, suspended for a previous team violation.

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Scoreboard Roundup — 6/15/16

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

INTERLEAGUE

Colorado 6, N-Y Yankees 3
Toronto 7, Philadelphia 2
Houston 4, St. Louis 1

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay 3, Seattle 2, 13 Innings
Chi White Sox 5, Detroit 3
Kansas City 9, Cleveland 4
Texas 7, Oakland 5
L.A. Angels 10, Minnesota 2
Boston 6, Baltimore 4

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Atlanta 9, Cincinnati 8, 13 Innings
L.A. Dodgers 3, Arizona 2
San Diego 6, Miami 3
San Francisco 10, Milwaukee 1
Washington 5, Chi Cubs 4, 12 Innings
N-Y Mets 11, Pittsburgh 2

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Efforts to Test Russian Athletes for Doping Ahead of Olympic Games Prove Difficult, Report Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new report from the World Anti-Doping Agency has revealed that efforts to test Russian athletes rigorously for doping ahead of the Rio Olympics have run into serious difficulties, meeting with administrative obstructions from Russian agencies and encountering sometimes bizarre obstructions by athletes.

The report, published on WADA’s website Wednesday, comes just two days before a crucial vote to decide whether Russia has reformed its anti-doping procedures enough to compete at this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Among the new allegations are claims that Russian athletes had deliberately registered in closed military cities off-limits to foreigners, preventing inspectors from reaching them; that officers had been “intimidated” by security services and that Russia’s anti-doping agency’s chaotic information databases are hindering testing.

Russian officials said Wednesday that many of the issues had already been resolved and much of the blame lay with administrative errors by the British anti-doping agency collecting the tests. But the report likely hurts Russia’s chances of proving it should be allowed to go to Rio.

The report details efforts by the British anti-doping agency, UKAD, to test Russian athletes in place of Russian agencies that were stripped of their licenses after they were found to have colluded in the doping cover up that led to Russia’s potential Olympic ban. UKAD is meant to be conducting intensive testing to restore confidence that Russian athletes are clean.

But of the 1,191 tests that UKAD has attempted to take since February, it has succeeded in only doing 455. Of these 73 were not collected because athletes could not be found.

Of the over 700 other tests that the agency failed to carry out the vast majority were caused by what is described as UKAD’s “lack of capacity.” Some of that appeared to be UKAD officers’ inability to reach some areas or a shortage of staff able to cover the athletes.

But the report also describes frequent efforts by Russian athletes to obstruct doping officers from testing them, as well as widespread administrative hindrances by Russia’s anti-doping bodies.

Russia has committed to cooperating in reforming its anti-doping procedures. But the report depicts a system of administrative unhelpfulness and sometimes chaos that meant it was often impossible for doping inspectors to find athletes.

The report said that Russia’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA had in “general poor quality” information on its athletes’ whereabouts, with many addresses for them wrong. The report also said that officers had found it difficult to find competitions where they were meant to be doing tests because they were not told where they were happening or only informed a day in advance.

The report also said WADA labs had found packages transporting samples had been opened by Russian customs officers; others were missing the correct documentation.

RUSADA’s administrative problems have previously been described by WADA as suspicious, though this report does not accuse the agency of deliberate wrongdoing. Besides the administrative problems though, the report records the elaborate and sometimes farcical lengths some Russian athletes are said to go to avoid testing. Some athletes are accused of deliberately registering in so-called closed cities — towns built around military or strategic sites closed to foreigners since the Soviet-era. Anti-doping officers were therefore sometimes unable to reach the athletes or to surprise them with tests.

The report said, anti-doping officers were “intimidated” when accessing the cities, and had been threatened by “armed FSB agents” with deportation. In another case, the report said, Olympic qualifying competitions had been held in areas with “ongoing civil conflicts,” seemingly to deter officers from being sent. Other efforts were less elaborate. In one case, the report notes, an athlete was “observed running away” to avoid test officers.

In perhaps the most bizarre case, a female athlete is said to have “inserted” a container into her body, apparently containing clean urine. The container though “leaked onto the floor” whilst the athlete was standing with a doping inspector, who noted it and forced her to give another sample. It tested positive.

Russian athletes were suspended from international competition last year, after a WADA report found systemic doping among them. On Friday, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will vote on whether to reinstate them for the Olympics. The decision hinges on Russia proving it changing attitudes to doping among its athletes.

Russian officials acknowledged today that some athletes were still seeking to cover their doping, but said the other systemic problems were being fixed. Officials said the problem of closed cities was a small one and in any case they were giving access.

The new head of Russia’s anti-doping agency, Anna Antseliovich told ABC News, that the number of athletes registered in the cities was “no more than 10-15.”

Natalya Zhelanova, the top anti-doping adviser to Russia’s ministry of sport, said that they had informed WADA of the need to request permission to the cities in December but had only begun receiving these requests in May. Zhelanova said she was only aware of one case of an inspector being unable to enter a city. Zhelanova also said that any athletes registered in closed cities ought to be retested.

Antseliovich, who was appointed to oversee the reform of RUSADA after the scandal broke, said that many of the issues were already being resolved. She said RUSADA was gathering athlete information and those not cooperating were being punished. She blamed the agency’s poor database partly on so many old staff having to be removed in the wake of the doping scandal.

She also said she could not understand the claim that officers had been unaware when competitions were happening, since RUSADA always shared whatever information they had.

Antseliovich said she hoped that the report showed that “we are working. We are changing.”

Questions about UKAD’s execution of its testing mission have been raised in the past month. The agency’s chairman, David Kenworthy, appeared before a British parliamentary committee this week.

Michele Verroken, who formerly oversaw anti-doping in Britain and was present at the hearing, said that Kenworthy had said UKAD had only succeeded in doing 50 percent of the required tests, in large part because of logistical problems, including that Russia was so large it was difficult to cover.

“I find it very, very odd,” Verroken said. “Why wouldn’t you know that from the start? Russia is a big country.”

Russia has agreed to subject its athletes to unusually intensive testing, requiring that they pass 3 to 6 tests prior to the Olympics to be eligible for them. But the blockages have put this process in some doubt. To speed up the process, Russia has created a pool of around 200 athletes, considered it best medal hopes and hired another firm, the private company IDTM to test them.

Earlier this month, Russian athletes from the pool told ABC News that many had not yet had the full number of tests. Some said they believed this was because doping officers were struggling to get round the large number of athletes requiring tests in such a short time.

Mikhail Butov, head of Russia’s track and field federation, though said that he was unaware of the problems described in the report. He said that IDTM had told him everything was going according to schedule.

“Before the Olympic Games we will complete this process,” Butov said. “I’m sure.”

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Craig Sager to Help Cover Game 6 of NBA Finals

Christian Petersen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — For the first time ever, sideline reporter Craig Sager will get to work an NBA Finals series thanks to a collaboration between Turner Sports and ESPN.

Sager, who’s known for his unique and colorful suits, will cover Game 6 from the sidelines alongside Doris Burke, ESPN reports. The Golden State Warriors lead the Cleveland Cavaliers in the series 3-2.

“I’d like to thank Turner and ESPN for approaching me with this tremendous opportunity to be part of The Finals broadcast team,” Sager said in a statement. “I’ve been watching the series very closely and, while I do not want to distract in any way from the event itself, I look forward to being in the building for what will be an incredibly exciting Game 6.”

He added, “The NBA community is a very special one and this is a great honor.”

Sager was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and is now battling a recurrence of the cancer. ESPN is set to honor him with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS next month.

“Craig is an iconic member of the NBA family who indelibly makes his mark on each and every broadcast,” John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, production and programming, said in the statement. “I know our entire team is delighted to work with Craig for Game 6. We all agree his professional reputation is second-to-none, though it’s his personal reputation — that of class, selflessness and respect — which makes this even more special for our team.”

“We hope that this will be a special night for Craig and for NBA fans. We are grateful for his interest and for the continued collaboration with our friends at Turner,” Wildhack continued.

You can catch Sager and Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Warriors’ Andrew Bogut Out for Rest of NBA Finals

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut is out for the remainder of the NBA Finals.

The team announced on Wednesday that Bogut, who had traveled to Cleveland for Thursday night’s Game 6, will be sidelined for a minimum of six to eight weeks while he recovers from bone bruises to his left knee. The 31-year-old suffered the injury early in the third quarter of Game 5.

“The injury will not require surgery and he is expected to make a full recovery,” the Warriors said.

Andrew Bogut Update: pic.twitter.com/ObjcC9zsNM

— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) June 15, 2016

Game 6 of the NBA Finals between Golden State and the Cleveland Cavaliers is slated for Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. The Warriors lead the series 3-2.

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JR Motorsports Names New Crew Chief for Truck Series Driver Cole Custer

iStock/Thinkstock(MOORESVILLE, N.C.) — JR Motorsports has announced a new crew chief for its Camping World Truck Series driver Cole Custer.

Marcus Richmond will fill the role for the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado, replacing Joe Shear Jr., who resigned earlier this month.

Richmond has worked for a handful of other organizations in the past, including GMS Racing, where he helped Johnny Sauter to a win at Daytona earlier this year.

Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports, said in a statement, “He brings a lot of experience and the kind of steady leadership that can take us to Victory Lane and into the inaugural Chase this season. Paired with Cole and the rest of the team, we are eager to see this new partnership begin at Iowa Speedway.”

Custer, 18, is currently 14th in the Truck Series standings.

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Scoreboard Roundup — 6/14/16

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

INTERLEAGUE

Colorado 13, N-Y Yankees 10
Toronto 11, Philadelphia 3
Houston 5, St. Louis 2

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Detroit 11, Chi White Sox 8
Kansas City 3, Cleveland 2
Texas 10, Oakland 6
L.A. Angels 5, Minnesota 4
Baltimore 3, Boston 2
Tampa Bay 8, Seattle 7

NATIONAL LEAGUE

L.A. Dodgers 7, Arizona 4
Miami 5, San Diego 2
San Francisco 3, Milwaukee 2
Chi Cubs 4, Washington 3
Cincinnati 3, Atlanta 1
Pittsburgh 4, N-Y Mets 0

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Maria Sharapova Files Appeal Against 2-Year Doping Ban

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Maria Sharapova has appealed her two-year tennis ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in hopes of being able to play in the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The 29-year-old tennis star first announced in March she failed a drug test after testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Last week, the International Tennis Federation issued the two-year ban, and according to BBC she wants the ban to be “eliminated” or reduced.

CAS said it would have a decision on the five-time Grand Slam winner’s case by July 18, according to BBC.

“Maria looks forward to CAS hearing her appeal and hopes she’ll be able to play again,” said Sharapova’s lawyer, John Haggerty, in a statement according to ESPN. “The ITF tribunal concluded she had no intent to do anything wrong, and she thinks a two-year suspension is unfairly harsh.”

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Report: NHL to Expand Franchise to Las Vegas

iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) — The National Hockey League may soon have a team in Las Vegas.

According to a report from ESPN, NHL sources say they are planning to expand the franchise to the resort town provided organizers pay a $500 million fee.

A formal vote is set to be held during the league’s board of governors meeting on June 22 in Las Vegas but it requires two-thirds approval to pass, according to ESPN.

If the vote passes, the NHL would be the first sports league to have a major professional team in Las Vegas.

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Report: Andrew Bogut Awaiting MRI Results After Game 5 Injury

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — Will Andrew Bogut be able to play in Thursday night’s Game 6?

The Golden State Warriors center injured his left knee Monday night in the Game 5 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

According to ESPN, sources said he underwent an MRI Tuesday morning, but the extent of his injury is still unclear.

A statement from the Warriors on Bogut was expected to come after they arrived in Cleveland Tuesday night, according to ESPN.

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