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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Bopanna-Qureshi enter pre-quarters in Monaco

Sports Shorts: Bopanna-Qureshi enter pre-quarters in Monaco

Last updated on: April 15, 2014 19:45 IST

Sports Shorts: Bopanna-Qureshi enter pre-quarters in Monaco

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Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi overcame a stiff resistance from Julian Knowle and Vasek Pospisil before moving to the pre-quarterfinals of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

The Indo-Pak pair battled past the Austrian-Canadian combo 7-6 (2), 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes in its opening round of the euro 3,452,415 clay court event.

There was no break of serve in the opening set as Knowle and Pospisil saved both the chances they faced.

In the second set, Bopanna and Qureshi were broken but they managed to break their rivals twice to seal the issue.

The experienced Indo-Pak pair fired 10 aces to just one by their rivals, who were also guilty of committing three double faults.

Bopanna and Qureshi are now up against seventh seeded pair of Lukasz Kubot from Poland and Robert Lindsret of Sweden.

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Image: Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi
Photographs: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

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Glasgow CWG medals unveiled 100 days ahead of opening ceremony

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The Glasgow Commonwealth Games’ medals, which athletes will compete for at the event, have been unveiled at an event marking 100 days to the Games' opening ceremony on July 23.

The gold, silver and bronze medals were reportedly displayed at Kelcingrove Art Gallery and organisers announced that more than 1,380 medals would be awarded to the athletes at 261 medal ceremonies during the Games.

According to the BBC, the medals, which weigh 100 grams each, are being hand-made by expert jewelers at the Glasgow School of Art and were designed by Glasgow-based artist and lecturer Jonathan Boyd.

Boyd, who uses digital technologies in his work as well as handcrafted skills and traditional metalworking techniques, said that he had tried to combine Glasgow's industrial heritage as well as a sense of the athlete's skill into the final design.

Boyd said that he and his team of 11 specialist jewellery makers faced a real challenge to get almost 1,400 medals, which are needed by the start of the Games, the report added.

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Image: Lily Forbes, Kathryn Malone, Sarah Bird and Sara Montaghain present the Commonwealth Games Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the unveiling at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday
Photographs: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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Flintoff eyes T20 return with St Annes club

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Four years after retiring from international cricket, former England skipper Andrew Flintoff is eyeing a T20 return with former club St Annes.

The 36-year-old allrounder played for the Northern League side - St Annes - as a junior before joining Lancashire.

The BBC reported that Freddie communicated his interest to the Fylde club through his grandfather, who is actively involved with the club activities.

"We're all very excited about the prospect of him coming back to the club where he spent a few years when he was a teenager," said St Annes chairman John Cotton while speaking to BBC.

"His grandfather comes into the cricket club each morning. He said Andrew had been invited to play in a charity game at Lord's in July, and he may wish to keep his hand in by playing some Twenty20 games for St Annes and asked for a registration form. I've no reason to believe he wouldn't

(complete it)," added Cotton.

Flintoff hanged up his boots in 2010 after his final Test against Australia at the Oval. He played 79 Tests and 141 one-dayers for England, and was also part of the Ashes series victories against Australia in 2005 and 2009.

Since retiring in September 2010 because of a persistent knee injury, he has forged a successful media career and also had a brief stint as a professional boxer, winning his only fight against American Richard Dawson in 2012.

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Image: Andrew Flintoff
Photographs: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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Indian boxers off to good start at Youth World C'ships

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India's boxers got off to a positive start at the World Youth Championships, with Shyam Kakara (49kg) plummelling UAE's Abdulla Almulla in his opening bout in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Kakara won the bout via Technical Knock Out (TKO) within the first two rounds.

The technical knock-out was a result of Almulla being declared unfit to continue the bout after coming in for severe thrashing from the Indian pugilist.

Kakara will next face Sri Lanka's Ishanka Withrana, who got a first-round bye.

Earlier, Asian silver medallists Gaurav Solanki (52kg) and Neel Kamal Singh (75kg) were among four Indians who were handed first-round byes in the tournament, which doubles up as a qualifying event for the Youth Olympics, slated from August 16 to 28 in Nanjing, China.

Manjeet Singh (69kg) and Manju Bombariya (75kg) are the other Indian boxers to get a bye in the tournament, which combines the men's and women's competition for the first time.

The teenage boxers will have to reach at least the semi-finals of the world event to make the cut for the Youth Olympics.

The Indians are competing under the International Boxing Association (AIBA) flag due to the termination of the Indian Boxing Federation following its failure to comply with the world body's directives on holding elections.

India had won a couple of silver medals and a bronze in the previous edition in Yerevan, Armenia.

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Photographs: Indian Boxing media

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Red Bull lose Ricciardo appeal

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Formula One team Red Bull's appeal against Daniel Ricciardo's disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix has been rejected by the International Court of Appeal, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Tuesday.

"The Court, after having heard the parties and examined their submissions, decided to uphold the Decision No56 of the Stewards by which they decided to exclude Infiniti Red Bull Racing's car No3 from the results of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix," The FIA said in a statement.

Australian Ricciardo finished second in his home race last month, his debut for the world champions, but was disqualified hours later when stewards ruled his car had breached new fuel flow regulations.

No further sanction against Red Bull was announced.

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Image: Daniel Ricciardo
Photographs: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

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'We are of course disappointed by the outcome'

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The FIA added that details of the decision would be published by the end of the week.

"Infiniti Red Bull Racing accepts the ruling of the International Court of Appeal," Red Bull said in a statement.

"We are of course disappointed by the outcome and would not have appealed if we didn't think we had a very strong case. We always believed we adhered to the technical regulations throughout the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.

"We will continue to work very hard to amass as many points as possible for the team, Daniel and Sebastian (Vettel) throughout the season."

The ruling means that Ricciardo remains 10th in the drivers' standings on 12 points, having lost 18 points as result of the disqualification, and Red Bull stay fourth in the team standings. The hearing took place at the FIA headquarters in Paris on Monday with representatives from the federation and Red Bull arguing their case for almost six hours.


Image: Daniel Ricciardo
Photographs: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

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Olympic swim champ Phelps to come out of retirement

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Michael Phelps, the most decorated swimmer of all-time, will come out of retirement next week, the clearest signal yet that he is getting ready to make an Olympic comeback at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

The American, who has not competed since the 2012 London Games, will headline an April 24-26 meet in Mesa, Arizona, with fellow Olympians Ryan Lochte and Katie Ledecky, USA Swimming said in a statement on Monday.

Phelps's return to the pool touched off a wave of excitement on social media that added more fuel to speculation that the 28-year-old is planning to compete in Brazil, but his longtime coach did little to fan the flames.

"I don't think anybody knows," Bob Bowman told Reuters in a phone interview when asked if Phelps's return to competitive swimming was a step toward swimming at the 2016 Olympics.

"Certainly he has done some training and gotten into decent physical condition and thought it would be fun to try some racing and we will find out next week how that goes.

"I don't think we can really call it a comeback yet. We'll see how next week goes and take it from there. But (Rio) is a possibility since he decided to consistently train."

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Image: Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps with friend and Golf Channel reporter Win McMurry
Photographs: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for ESPY

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'Went through the nine-month probation period from FINA on the drug testing'

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Already the most decorated Olympian of all time, Phelps rejoined the US Anti-Doping Agency's drug testing programme last November offering the first hint that he is considering a return to the pool in a bid for more Olympic gold.

World swimming governing body FINA requires athletes to be tested for a minimum of nine months before competing in sanctioned events. Phelps was tested twice in the quarter ended Sept. 30, according to data released by USADA.

"He went through the nine-month probation period from FINA on the drug testing to get back into the competitive pool, so he is that serious about (a comeback)," said Bowman.

"But honestly we don't have any expectations, we don't know where he is, we'll find out a lot more after Mesa and then we can really think about what might happen after that or won't happen after that.

Phelps retired from competitive swimming after winning four gold and two silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics to take his career tally to 22, 18 of which were gold.

He had repeatedly said before the London Games he would not contemplate a comeback and consider a return to compete at what would be his fifth Olympics in Rio.

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Image: Gold medallist Michael Phelps of the United States
Photographs: Clive Rose/Getty Images

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'He's an unbelievable athlete and it's great for the sport of swimming'

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Retired US swimmer Dara Torres, who has won 12 medals in five Olympics, was not surprised by news Phelps was returning to competitive swimming, saying it was something she expected since the day he retired.

"So funny because when he announced his retirement I went on Twitter and tweeted "who wants to bet MP (Michael Phelps) will come out of retirement for Rio?", Torres told Reuters in an email. "And he tweeted me back and said 'I will!'

"You know I feel sorry for those swimmers who thought they had a better shot of winning a gold because Michael Phelps was retired.

"He's an unbelievable athlete and it's great for the sport of swimming."

The Arena Grand Prix in Mesa is the fourth stop of USA Swimming’s 2013-14 Arena Grand Prix Series, which provides the nation’s best swimmers six opportunities to face top-flight competition on U.S. soil.

Bowman said Phelps had been entered in the 100 metres freestyle, 100m butterfly and the 50m butterfly.

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Image: Michael Phelps with his award for 'Laureus Academy Exceptional Acheivement Award' during the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards in Rio de Janeiro on March 11, 2013
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images For Laureus

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Zidane was interested in France manager's job in 2012

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Zinedine Zidane sought to become manager of the French national team two years ago when Laurent Blanc refused to extend his contract after Euro 2012, the former president of the French football federation (FFF) said on Tuesday.

"Zinedine Zidane would have liked to manage Les Bleus. It is clear -- he wanted it! I met him at his request," Noel Le Graet is quoted as saying in a book (World champions 98 - Secret and Power) co-written by sports reporters Gilles Verdez and Arnaud Ramsay published later this week.

Instead Le Graet backed Didier Deschamps, Zidane's captain in their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 triumphs, and a manager with a wealth of experience.

"It was not the time (for Zidane), he first needed to manage a team," Le Graet explained.

Since then, Zidane has been appointed assistant coach at Real Madrid, where he is Carlo Anceloti's deputy.

Deschamps will manage France in the World Cup finals after they overcame Ukraine in a play-off.

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Image: Zinedine Zidane


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Pistorius putting on an act to avoid questions

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The prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on Monday accused the track star of using emotional breakdowns under cross-examination to evade answering questions about the night he killed his girlfriend.

The Olympic and Paralympic sprinter, who faces life in prison if convicted of murdering Reeva Steenkamp, says he shot the 29-year-old model in a tragic accident, firing at what he thought was an intruder hiding behind a locked toilet door.

The athlete has broken down numerous times during the 22-day trial, including retching into a bucket. He burst into tears again on Monday morning when recounting the moment he screamed at what he thought was a burglar, prompting the judge to call a 30-minute adjournment.

"Get the fuck out of my house! Get the fuck out of my house!" a trembling Pistorius said when asked to state precisely what he screamed at the perceived intruder.

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Image: Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius (right) is hugged by a supporter as he arrives ahead of his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday
Photographs: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

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'You're not using your emotional state as an escape are you?'

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He then burst into tears as family members in the public gallery rushed to comfort him.

Towards the end of the day, he again began to cry when answering questions about the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, whose reputation as one of South Africa's toughest attorneys has earned him the nickname 'The Pitbull', said the athlete was just putting on an act to avoid having to answer his questions.

Nel questioned why Pistorius would get upset when being asked about whether he did or did not open doors leading from his bedroom to a balcony to shout for help minutes after the shooting.

"I cannot see how that can cause you to be emotional because you cannot remember how to open a door. We're not talking about Reeva," Nel said, referring to previous breakdowns, which have usually been when he describes the shooting.

"You're not using your emotional state as an escape are you?" Nel said, raising his eyebrows and shaking his head.

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Image: State prosecutor Gerrie Nel questions Oscar Pistorius during cross examination in Pretoria High Court on Monday
Photographs: Antoine de Ras/Independent Newspapers/Gallo Images/Getty Images

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Juve beat Undinese, close in on third straight scudetto

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Two goals in 10 first half minutes from Sebastian Giovinco and Fernando Llorente were enough for Juventus to close in on their third straight Serie A title with a 2-0 stroll at Udinese on Monday.

The win sent them eight points clear of AS Roma at the top on 87 points with five games remaining as a scudetto that has rarely looked in doubt heads towards the dominant Turin side.

Italy's Giovinco opened the scoring with a sweet curling strike after 16 minutes and fellow World Cup hopeful Llorente of Spain tapped in his 14th of the season following a goalmouth scramble at a corner 10 minutes later.

"This was a potentially dangerous match and we could not afford to drop points," Juve coach Antonio Conte told reporters.

"The title race is still open and we did well to face this match with the right determination, approach and concentration."

Without top goalscorer Carlos Tevez, it was left to Giovinco to provide Juve with thrust up front and his second of the season was a signal to Italy boss Cesare Prandelli that he was not to be forgotten.

Cutting in from the right, he whipped in a superb shot with his left that flew past rookie Udinese keeper Simone Scuffet, who was unsighted by four players.

Tiny Giovinco was unlucky in the 69th minute when managing to squeeze off a shot after impressive close control in the area only to see his effort rebound back off the post.

"I'd been looking for that goal, as I'd not scored for a while. I'm glad it came in a match as important as this," said man of the match Giovinco.

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Image: Juventus' Sebastian Giovinco celebrates after scoring a goal against Udinese during their Serie A match at the Friuli stadium in Udine on Monday
Photographs: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

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'It was a decisive match'

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Llorente's stabbed finish from close range, which game after Scuffet poked the ball away from Paul Pogba as it pinged around the area, was less elegant but ended the match as a contest.

"It was a decisive match. We're very happy because there are fewer games left and the points difference is the same so it went brilliantly well for us," Llorente said.

Juve were comfortable enough to substitute their match winners with Mirko Vucinic and Pablo Osvaldo to see out victory before Luis Muriel hit the post for Udinese in stoppage time.

Udinese stay 14th on 38 points after a flat performance befitting a side that has all but mathematically secured Serie A safety and has little left to play for.

Francesco Guidolin's side are 13 points clear of the drop zone and were playing two years to the day since the tragic death of their player Piermario Morosini, who died after suffering a heart attack and collapsing on the pitch while playing on loan at Livorno.

Juve have to travel to the Italian capital to face Roma, who beat Atalanta 3-1 on Saturday, in their penultimate match next month but the title could already be sewn up by then.

Conte's charges have only lost twice all season in Serie A and have won all 16 of their home games. They next face relegation-threatened Bologna and Sassuolo either side of their Europa League semi-final first leg at Benfica.

Roma meanwhile travel to fourth-placed Fiorentina on Saturday (1900 GMT) before facing in-form AC Milan.

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Image: Juventus' Fernando Llorente (centre) fights for possession against Udinese's Danilo Larangeira (left) and Allan Loreiro during their Serie A match at the Friuli stadium in Udine on Monday
Photographs: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

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Beckham's Miami Arena plan faces protest

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An alliance of shipping interests and a billionaire car dealer launched a newspaper ad on Monday protesting retired English soccer star David Beckham's plans for a soccer arena at the port of Miami, saying it threatens the city's plans to capitalise on the expansion of the Panama Canal.

"We cannot jeopardize well-paying jobs, like crane operators, longshore workers, and mechanics, for low-paying stadium jobs, such as concession sales," the Miami Seaport Alliance said in a full-page ad that ran in the Miami Herald and its sister Spanish-language paper, El Nuevo Herald.

The group, led by John Fox, who has retired as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's head of governmental affairs, includes two chapters of the International Longshoremen's Association and two stevedore companies, whose workers load and unload ships, along with car dealer Norman Braman, the one-time owner of Philadelphia Eagles.

Beckham last month unveiled detailed plans for a 25,000-seat waterfront stadium on the island port with sweeping views of downtown Miami.

Development of the 36-acre (14.5-hectare) space would cost about $200 million and include shops, hotels and offices connected to the mainland by a pedestrian bridge.

"This is one of four sites under consideration, there's nothing concrete, there's no recommendation pending," Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said on Monday.

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Image: David Beckham at Miami Dade College in downtown Miami
Photographs: Zachary Fagenson/Files/Reuters

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'The plan doesn't interfere with port operations'

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The port's master plan calls for the development of more than 7 million square feet (650,000 square metres) of convention, hotel and office space on the same site.

Before Monday's ad, only Royal Caribbean, which is headquartered at the port, has come out publicly against Beckham's plan.

"The plan doesn't interfere with port operations," said Neisen Kasdin, an attorney for Akerman Senterfitt and adviser for the Beckham group.

"It will likely generate more revenue for the port in the shorter term than other concepts that have been discussed."

Yet a growing list of opponents say a stadium would jeopardize Miami's aspiration of becoming a more attractive choice for global shippers looking to distribute goods to the U.S. market.

"There are plenty of other places for the stadium to be," Braman said in a telephone interview.

Miami officials hope the port's short distance from the Panama Canal, as well as $2 billion of planned infrastructure upgrades, including cranes to unload the ships and a $1 billion tunnel connecting the port to major highways, will increase its appeal.

Neither Braman nor Fox would say who paid for the two ads in Monday's paper, worth nearly $25,000.

"I haven't given any dollars yet but I would if asked," Braman added.

Braman spent more than $1 million in 2009 to fight a Miami Marlins' campaign to secure more than $600 million in public funding for a new baseball stadium that opened in 2012.

In 2013, he spoke out against the ultimately failed quest by billionaire real estate mogul and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to secure $200 million in public funds to help repair the team's arena.

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Image: David Beckham
Photographs: Larry Marano/Getty Images

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Olympian Lee's doping ban reversed, open to compete at Asian Games

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South Korea's Olympic badminton gold medallist Lee Yong-dae has had his one-year ban for missing dope tests reversed, the Badminton World Federation announced on Tuesday, leaving him free to compete at this year's Asian Games.

The 25-year-old won mixed doubles gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing and a bronze medal in the men's doubles in London four years later. Another Korean player, Kim Ki-jung, was also banned for one year but is now also free to compete.

The BWF had given the players one-year suspensions in January for "violating the requirements relating to filing whereabouts information and resulting missed tests under the BWF Anti-Doping Regulations".

Both players appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

At the time, the BWF said it chose not to dish out the maximum two-year ban due to Badminton Korea Association's (BKA) failure to make diligent efforts to keep it informed about the players' whereabouts.

On Tuesday, however, the BWF said on its official website that new evidence had been presented as part of the disciplinary process, evidence that should have been made available in January.

It added that the sanctions had been reversed and the players were eligible to resume playing immediately.

"The information and evidence presented at the January hearing was insufficient and ambiguous and there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt that the players were not at fault," said the BWF.

"The appropriate decision applied at that time.

"However, this new evidence renders the CAS Appeal almost entirely unnecessary as it means 'material evidence' would be presented for the first time without having been made available to or evaluated by the BWF Doping Hearing Panel."

After reviewing its original decision, the BWF panel wiped out the players' "missed tests and filing failures" and expunged their records.

The doubles specialists will now be able to compete at the Asian Games from Sept. 19 to Oct 4 on home soil in Incheon.

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Image: Lee Yong-dae
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Image

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Former footballers charged in Austrian match-fixing scam

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Former footballers Dominque Taboga, Sanel Kuljic and "several other people" have been charged in connection with the Austrian match-fixing scandal which came to light last year, state prosecutors said on Monday.

The prosecutors in Graz said in a statement that they would not give any further details for the time being while investigations continued.

Taboga was released by top flight club Groedig in November and given a life ban by the Austrian Football Federation in February over the allegations. Kuljic is a former Austria international forward who retired in 2012.

In November, criminal investigators said that up to 17 first and second division matches could have been manipulated in the last seven years.

The matches under suspicion included nine in the Bundesliga, the top flight of Austrian football, of which three were played this season and involved Groedig.

These included Groedig's 3-0 defeat by local rivals Salzburg in October, their 1-1 draw at home to Wolfsberger and their 2-2 draw against Rapid Vienna, both in November.

The remaining eight games were all in the Erste Liga, the second tier of Austrian football. Nine of the 17 matches involved former Bundesliga club Kapfenberger, relegated at the end of the 2011-12 season.

Taboga left Groedig by mutual consent on Nov. 14 after the club said he had admitted trying to persuade four team mates to manipulate matches.

The club said the other players declined to get involved.

Kuljic played for Austria 20 times between 2005 and 2007 but failed to make the cut for the Euro 2008 squad. He was joint topscorer in the Austrian Bundesliga in 2005/06 for SV Ried with 15 goals.

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Image: Sanel Kuljic
Photographs: Phil Cole/Getty Images

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Rio workers to remain on indefinite strike

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Workers at the main venue of the 2016 Olympic Games voted on Monday to continue their strike indefinitely, just days before officials from the International Olympic Committee are due to visit Rio de Janeiro and encourage the city to speed up preparations.

Around 2,500 workers at the Olympic Park, a huge area that will host more than a dozen events, are seeking higher pay and more benefits.

"We don't know how long we'll be on strike," Antonio Figueiredo Souza, president of the construction workers union Sintraconst-Rio, told Reuters.

"We are not going back until we get an offer. So farthat hasn't happened and so it looks like this will end up in the Labour Courts."

The strike began on April 3 and is the latest in a series ofproblems affecting the preparations for the 2016 games, the first ever to be held in South America.

Brazil’s preparations are way behind schedule, and work at some venues has not even started. With just over two years to go before the Games begin organisers are still to say how much the extravaganza will cost and which sphere of government will pay for the different jobs that need to be done.

The IOC last week announced Rio needs more oversight and said it will send officials to the city on a more frequent basis. The IOC’s executive director Gilbert Felli is to return to the city later this week.

Brazil is also hosting soccer's World Cup in June and July, and preparations for that event are similarly problematic. Three stadiums are yet to be finished with the opening match less than two months away. 


Image: The Olympic flag at the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro
Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

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