Summary of sports events and persons who made news on Thursday
India's Dipa Karmakar made it to the vault finals after finishing third in the qualifying round of the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Baku.
The 25-year-old Dipa, who had finished fourth in the event at 2016 Rio Olympics, performed a higher difficulty Handfront 540 vault for the first time in the competition.
She scored 14.466 and 14.133 points in the two qualifying round vaults for an average of 14.299.
American Jade Carey took the top spot in the qualifying round with an average score of 14.70 while Alexa Moreno of Mexico was second with 14.533.
The top eight finishers in the qualification round will compete in the final.
The vault final will be held on Saturday.
Dipa will also take part in the balanced beam event on Friday.
"It's a good performance by Dipa. Let us hope that she stands on the podium after Saturday's final and take one more step towards Olympic qualification," Gymnastics Federation of India vice president Riyaz Bhati said.
Dipa had claimed a bronze at the vault event of the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Cottbus, Germany in November last year. It was her first appearance after recovering from a knee strain, which had forced her missed the vault final in the Jakarta Asian Games.
Indian men slip at final hurdle, finish fourth
It turned out to be a disappointing final round for the Indian men as they went downing fighting against Russia 1.5-2.5 in the ninth and final round of the World Team Chess Championship.
Having done some real hard work to be joint second after the penultimate rounds, a 2-2 results would given Indian a bronze and a victory would have ensured the silver medal for the team. But unfortunately, the loss came from position of strength.
National champion Aravindh Chithambaram missed out on a great opportunity to beat Dmitry Andreikin on the fourth board and Surya Ganguly, despite trying very hard, could not convert a complex but advantageous position against Ian Nepomniachtchi on the second board. Both these games ended in draws.
B Adhiban did his bit and drew with Sergey Karjakin on the top board earlier in the day but S P Sethuraman lost a long-drawn game against Alexander Grischuk on the third board, putting an end to Indian hopes of a medal despite being among the front runners from day one.
Russia had already won the gold with a round to spare and the victory added to their overnight score of 14 points, making it 16 in all. England demolished Sweden 3.5-0.5 to reach 13 points for a well deserved silver while the bronze went to China, thanks to a late surge that helped them reach 12 points.
In the final round the Chinese overcame local Kazakshtan team by a minimal 2.5-1.5 margin.
The Indian men ended fourth on 11 points. This was a remarkable performance minus the last rounds especially without the top three stalwarts – Viswanathan Anand, P Harikrishna and Vidit Gujrathi.
Adhiban was outstanding on the top board scoring six points out of a possible nine and got the gold medal for his individual performance that was better than all other top board players. Ganguly with 7/9 was even better in the scoreline and also duly won the gold for the third board.
Meanwhile in the women's championship being organised simultaneously, the Chinese women cruised home to their ninth straight victory defeating Ukraine 3.5-0.5.
While China scored 18 points, Russia played out a draw with Georgia to reach 14 points and bagged the silver while the Georgians won bronze on 12 points and a better tiebreak than Ukraine.
The Indian eves finished sixth on nine points after settling for a 2-2 draw with Hungary in the final round. Soumya Swaminathan lost to Anita Gara on the second board while Bhakti Kulkarni defeated Bianka Havanecz to level scores. The other two games were drawn.
Results final round open: Russia beat India 2.5-1.5 (Sergey Karjakin drew with B Adhiban; Surya Shekhar Ganguly drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi; Alexander Grischuk beat S P Sethuraman; Aravindh Chithambaram drew with Dmitry Andreikin); England beat Sweden 3.5-0.5; USA beat Iran 3-1; Azerbaijan beat Egypt 2.5-1.5; Kazakhstan lost to China 1.5-2.5.
Final Standings: 1. Russia 16. 2. England 13. 3. China 12. 4-5. India, USA 11 each; 6-7. Iran Azerbaijan 8 each; 8-9. Kazakhstan, Sweden 4 each; 10. Egypt 3.
Women: India drew with Hungary 2-2 (Hoang Thanh Trang drew with Eesha Karavade; Soumya Swaminathan lost to Anita Gara; Ticia Gara drew with Padmini Rout; Bhakti Kulkarni beat Bianka Havanecz); USA beat Egypt 2.5-1.5; Ukraine lost to China 0.5-3.5; Georgia drew with Russia 2-2; Kazakhstan beat Armenia 3-1.
Final standings: 1. China 18. 2. Russia 14. 3-4. Georgia, Ukraine 12 each. 5. Kazakhstan 10. 6. India 9. 7. USA 7. 8-9. Armenia, Hungary 4 each. 10. Egypt 0.
Lakshya Sen storms into quarters of China Masters
Asian junior champion Lakshya Sen stormed into the men's singles quarterfinals of China Masters badminton tournament with an easy straight-game victory over Ha Young-woong of South Korea.
The Indian, who is ranked 104 in the world, won 21-14, 21-15 in a 46-minute contest held at Lingshui.
Sen, who was never really stretched in the match, will take on Zhou Zeqi of China in the round of eight match on Friday.
Dey, Mookerjee advance to quarters of Swiss Open
Subhankar Dey and Riya Mookerjee advanced to men's and women's singles quarterfinals respectively of the Swiss Open badminton tournament.
Dey registered a hard-fought 12-21, 22-20, 21-17 win over fifth seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in a men's singles contest that lasted one hour and 11 minutes, while Mookerjee made it to the quarterfinals after her opponent from Canada, Michelle Li retired hurt when the score read 18-16 in favour of the Indian.
Dey will face reigning Olympic champion and two-time All England champion Chen Long of China in the round of eight, while Mookerjee will take on top seeded Chinese Chen Yufei.
In women's doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy registered a straight-game 21-14, 21-17 win over the pair of Nadia Fankhauser of Switzerland and Iris Tabeling of the Netherlands to enter the quarerfinals.
In mixed doubles, M R Arjun and K Maneesha defeated compatriots Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy 21-16, 16-21, 21-15 in a 55-minute contest to move into the quarterfinals.
Canada creates investigative unit to protect athletes from predators
Canada's Minister for Science and Sport announced on Wednesday the formation of an investigative unit to combat harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport, among other measures.
An investigation by national broadcaster CBC last month found widespread abuse across Canada's amateur sport system.
The CBC reported that at least 222 coaches involved in amateur sports in Canada have been convicted of sexual offences in the past 20 years involving more than 600 victims under the age of 18.
Canada's Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan, who called the findings of the CBC report "tragic and completely unacceptable", followed up by introducing measures to protect athletes, including the threat to withhold funding, and beefed those efforts up by unveiling a third-party investigative unit that will be available to national sport organisations.
The minister also introduced a national toll-free helpline manned by professionals that will be available to both victims and witnesses of abuse, discrimination or harassment.
Both the investigative unit and helpline were operational as of Tuesday, Duncan told Reuters.
"Since Day One this had been my number one priority," Duncan, a former gymnast, told Reuters. "I have been an athlete, coach, judge all my life and as a coach my number one priority is the health and safety of my athlete. Everything else is second.
"We are all aware of recent reports regarding serious allegations and criminal convictions of sexual abuses in sport in Canada. It breaks my heart."
Olympic alpine skier Allison Forsyth, who alleges she was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her coach, said at the announcement of the programs on Wednesday that she would have given up all her medals not to have gone through the traumatic events.
"It is not about success. Many people will tell you I went on to have a very successful career in skiing," said Forsyth, the winner of five World Cup giant slalom medals and a bronze at the 2003 world alpine championships.
"I can stand here before you today and tell you I suffered for 20 years in silence because programs like this did not exist, and I would have given back every single medal I ever won to have not had that experience and have had this happen to me."
Forsyth was one of 12 women to allege they were abused by national ski team coach Bertrand Charest, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for sex crimes in 2017.
The convictions involved nine of the 12 women but not Forsyth because the alleged incidents occurred outside of Canada and due to legal issues could not be prosecuted.
The Canadian sport scene has been hit by a number of incidents recently involving high-profile athletes including double Olympic gold medal-winning bobsleigher Kaillie Humphries, who filed a harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada.
Duncan has warned sports federations that to get funding from the Canadian government they need to act swiftly on complaints while putting mechanisms in place to protect athletes or risk having that funding pulled.
"I've made it very clear there can be no bystanders in sport. If you see a child being harmed you have to speak up," said Duncan. "I have made it very clear I will withhold funding if action is not taken."
"I have certainly done it on the science and research side. Money talks."
WADA appeals over swimming federation decision on Sun Yang
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has appealed to sport's highest tribunal over a swimming federation decision involving China's world and Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang.
WADA's director general Olivier Niggli confirmed at a news conference on Wednesday that the agency had filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
"There was a decision taken by the swimming federation (FINA) and all I can confirm is that we've appealed that decision to CAS," he said.
Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported in January on an alleged dispute between doping testers and the swimmer last year which the newspaper said had resulted in damage to a blood sample.
China's swimming association (CSA) rejected the allegations, saying an investigation by FINA had found the swimmer committed no anti-doping rule violation.
The CSA said Sun had rejected an out-of-competition doping test at his home in China on Sept. 4 last year over what the athlete said was the testing officials' lack of proof of identification.
Sun, a triple Olympic gold medallist and world record holder, was banned in 2014 for three months after testing positive for the banned stimulant trimetazidine during the Chinese national championships.
His lawyer Zhang Qihuai has threatened the Sunday Times with legal action, saying in a statement to the Chinese news agency Xinhua that the newspaper reported with "a malign intention" which "severely damaged Sun Yang's reputation and violated his privacy."
Kenya, Ethiopia urge IAAF not to cut Diamond League races
Kenyan athletics chiefs said on Thursday they would oppose the decision by world governing body to drop the 5,000m and 10,000m from the lucrative Diamond League circuit.
Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jackson Tuwei said it was "totally unfair" to drop the two events in which African athletes have been doing very well.
Ethiopia’s long distance great Haile Gebrselassie said the decision to limit the longest event in the circuit to 3,000m will disproportionately affect Kenya and Ethiopia, two powerhouses of middle and long distance running.
The IAAF said on Monday the circuit will have a trimmer look and fewer meetings as the one-day competitions aim for a more consistent and fast moving format.
Meetings will be reduced from 14 to 12 competitions, while the number of disciplines will be cut from 32 to 24 with 12 each for men and women.
"I will raise the issue at an African Athletics Confederation (AAC) Congress in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) next month because this is totally unfair to our athletes," Tuwei told reporters.
Barnaba Korir, chairman of AK Nairobi region and a powerful voice in the east Africa nation’s athletics administration, said track and field would lose its historical significance and financial incentives if the longer distances were dropped from the circuit.
"Historically, the longer distances were the pillar of track and field. Marathon was the pride of Olympics, and 5,000m and 10,000m races were what made track and field interesting," the former 10,000m and road runner told Reuters.
"All the legends of track and field – from Paavo Nurmi, Haile Gebreselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, Kip Keino, Henry Rono and Paul Tergat, Said Aouita and Hicham El Guerrouj - were 5,000m and 10,000m athletes," he said.
"Besides, our athletes would lose significant income from the circuit if the two races are dropped. This would have a trickling effect and demoralise young athletes who admire their successful compatriots in their flashy cars and high-end property, thanks to prize money from winning longdistance races," he said.
"They can limit the races that are broadcast live and still have the 5,000m and 10,000m on the programme," he said.
Ethiopia Athletics federation (EAF) termed the IAAF decision "very illegitimate".
"We Africans should shout loud to IAAF to stop the silent killing of our long distance running," Sileshi Bisrat of EAF communications department said in a statement.
"The way forward showed that IAAF is going to remove these two events from the World Championships."
Ducati's Qatar GP win remains subject to appeal
Andrea Dovizioso will know by the end of the month whether his victory stands from the season-opening MotoGP race in Qatar after four rival teams protested the legality of the Italian's Ducati.
The International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) said in a statement on Wednesday that the MotoGP Court of Appeal would make a ruling before the Argentine Grand Prix on March 31.
The Honda and Suzuki factory teams, along with Aprilia and KTM, protested to Qatar GP stewards about a device on the rear swingarm of the Ducatis ridden by Dovizioso, team mate Danilo Petrucci and Australian Jack Miller.
Petrucci finished sixth for the works Ducati team while Pramac Ducati's Miller qualified fourth but retired after his bike's seat came loose.
The bone of contention is a winglet in front of the Ducati's rear tyre, which the Italian manufacturer says is for cooling purposes but which rivals argue illegally creates aerodynamic downforce.
MotoGP stewards rejected the protest last Sunday but the teams lodged an appeal, which was referred on to the MotoGP court of three judges.
"The result of the Qatar Grand Prix stands, subject to the final decision of the MotoGP Court of Appeal," said the FIM.
Dovizioso beat Repsol Honda's reigning world champion Marc Marquez by 0.023 seconds after a wheel-to-wheel duel at the Losail desert circuit in the floodlit night race.