(L-R) Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Yaya Toure (Manchester City) Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) and Emre Can (Liverpool) are all in talks to move from their clubs this summer (Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons)
Mo Farah has welcomed any move to reanalyse his drug test samples despite the body that governs anti-doping in Britain appearing to warn against the request from their American counterparts.
The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has reportedly asked UK Anti-Doping if it can look at the four-time Olympic champion’s historic samples as part of an investigation into claims that his coach, Alberto Salazar, committed numerous anti-doping offences. Salazar has refuted all allegations.
Questions have been asked of Farah after a leaked USADA report revealed he had received an infusion of L-carnitine – a legal substance that is permitted in certain doses. The report also claimed that a doctor attached to the British team was so concerned about Farah’s health that he wrote to UK Athletics medical colleagues after Salazar had prescribed high doses of vitamin D in an attempt to boost testosterone levels. “I’m not aware of any request but as I’ve said many times, I’m happy to be tested anytime, anywhere and have any of my samples tested or retested now or at any time in the future, by any official body,” said Farah.
In related news, Yelena Isinbayeva’s election to a key role within Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) has been criticised by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Former Olympic champion pole-vaulter Isinbayeva, 34, had described Russia’s athletics team’s suspension from Rio 2016 as “a blatant political order”.
The ban came after evidence of a state-sponsored doping programme in Russia. WADA said Isinbayeva’s appointment was “not consistent” with plans it had agreed to necessary reforms. A statement read: “Whilst it is the decision of the Russian authorities to elect its board members, the agency shall be passing this information on to its independent Compliance Review Committee for their review.”
Russia’s sports leaders have promised to improve their record on doping, but the pace of progress has also been criticised. WADA Director-General, Olivier Niggli, said reforms were “not happening at the speed I would have liked to see”.
Isinbayeva, Olympic champion in 2004 and 2008, was elected Chair of RUSADA’s supervisory board on March 9. “We will watch and control everybody and everything, we have just one attempt to clear our sport of this dirt,” she said.
The European Athletics Indoor Championships, Serbia, Belgrade (March 3-5): Olympic heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam won the European indoor pentathlon title in dominant fashion. The Belgian athlete got a personal-best 4,870 points, topping the standings in the high jump, shot put and 60-meter hurdles, as she beat Austria’s Ivona Dadic (4,767) and Hungarian Gyorgyi Zsivoczky-Farkas (4,723).
Amir Khan will not fight Manny Pacquiao this spring, according to the Filipino’s promoter. Pacquaio had posted: “Negotiations between team Pacquiao and team Khan have come to terms for the April 23 bout as this is what the fans wanted. #PacquiaoKhan ”.
Khan added on his social media page: “My team and I have agreed on terms with Manny Pacquiao and his team for a super fight.”
The fight was later pencilled in for May 20 as Pacquiao’s Manager, Michael Koncz, eyed a money-spinning showdown in the UAE. But promoter Bob Arum claims talk of a $38 million offer from the Gulf State was a mirage and the deal for the battle is dead. “Michael is on his way back to meet with Manny but it’s kaddish [a Jewish prayer for the dead] for the UAE deal. It’s dead. I’m talking to him about another proposal for another fight, not Khan. Khan won’t be Manny’s next opponent.”
Pacquiao is likely to face another opponent in June or July with Australia’s Jeff Horn among the possible contenders for his welterweight world title. Khan will also be forced to seek alternative opposition but could still take on his former training partner in November if a deal can be resurrected.
Twenty20 series: The International Cricket Council is planning to send a World XI to Pakistan in late September for a four-match Twenty20 series in Lahore that will look to build on the successful staging of the Pakistan Super League final in the city on March 5. The 4-match series at the Gaddafi Stadium – to be called The Independence Cup to mark the 70th anniversary of partition – is intended to continue the reintroduction of top-level cricket to the country after an eight-year hiatus. The break resulted from the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 and has meant Pakistan, bar one series against Zimbabwe two years ago, have played home internationals at neutral venues.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has provisionally suspended Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed from playing any form of cricket for violating an anti-corruption code during the recent Pakistan Super League.
Jamshed is still in Britain, where he was first arrested as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in the PSL. The interior ministry said in a statement that Irfan and Latif recorded their statements to officials from the Federal Investigation Authority in Lahore on March 20. Hasan and Sharjeel are scheduled to record their statements to FIA officials on March 21.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan directed FIA officials to carry out a thorough investigation against the five players. He said there should be a zero tolerance policy and anybody who is involved in spot-fixing should not be spared.
Transfer: Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez could both leave Arsenal in this summer’s transfer window after the club’s heavy defeat to Bayern Munich. The Gunners have been trying for months to tie their star duo down to new deals at the Emirates Stadium, but have not made any progress and may now find it even harder to convince them to stay.
Bayern Munich steamrollered Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate as they dumped them out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage once again, and reports suggest that the defeat could end up being the last straw for Sanchez and Ozil. Arsenal have been heavily reliant on both players this season and look likely to be in big trouble if both of them walk away, with the Daily Mirror claiming that Ozil, has been linked with a return to Germany after his international team-mate Jerome Boateng hinted at luring him to Bayern by recently saying: “I love to play with him.”
Yaya Toure’s agent has revealed he has opened negotiations with other clubs over the Manchester City midfielder’s future. And Dimitri Seluk has even claimed he would be open to an offer from rivals Manchester United for the 33-year-old. Toure is one of six City players out of contract at the end of the season and has been free to speak to different clubs since January.
Seluk told Sky Sports News: “From yesterday (March 16) we officially started negotiating with different clubs about his future. We waited until March 15 for what Manchester City will say but until now Manchester City don’t say anything. Before March, we didn’t negotiate with anybody because Yaya does a lot with Manchester City, so we waited. But we cannot wait until the last minute, until June, and have no negotiations with anybody.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, has denied speculation linking the Manchester United striker with a move to Napoli once his contract at Old Trafford expires this summer. Emre Can insists his contract stand-off with Liverpool is not about money. The German midfielder’s future is uncertain as he prepares to enter the final year of his existing deal. Negotiations broke down before Christmas but Can, is adamant that wasn’t as a result of his £100,000 per week wage demands.
The 23-year-old says he wants to stay at Anfield and is hoping an agreement can be reached in the summer.“I read in newspapers it was about money but it isn’t about money,” Can said. “We’ve had a few good meetings and everything is fine. I am happy at Liverpool. We will see. You never know what will happen in football but I am happy here.”
Asked what was responsible for the impasse if it wasn’t down to money, Can added: “It is about the future, what happens.In the last few months the most important thing has been that I am pain-free and we have spoken more about that than the contract. We will speak in the next few weeks and months and see what happens. I am happy to leave things until the end of the season. I just want to play injury-free. The meetings are with my agent but I am very happy at Liverpool. In the future I hope to play for many years at Liverpool.”
Can has endured a difficult season but he denied suggestions that speculation about his future had affected his form. “No, that’s not the reason,” he said.
BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California (March 6 – 19): India’s Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Barbara Strycova lost in the quarter-finals of the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament in California. The Indo-Czech pair suffered a 4-6, 4-6 defeat against Swtzerland’s Martina Hingis and Taiwan’s Yung-jan Chan in the quarter-final. Earlier, the pair defeated Sara Errani of Italy and Alicja Rosolska of Poland 6-2, 6-3 in the previous round.