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West Indies Test captain Jason Holder has signed with BBL champions the Sydney Sixers for a three-game stint following the Test series against New Zealand.

The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand allows Holder to enter Australia without having to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Following the two-Test series in New Zealand, he will head straight to Hobart to play in the December 20 clash with the Adelaide Strikers. He will also be available for the December 26 fixture against the Melbourne Stars and the December 29 match with the Melbourne Renegades.

Holder, 29, comes in as cover for England bowler Tom Curran who needs to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving from England's limited-overs tour of South Africa. He joins fellow West Indian Carlos Brathwaite and England batsman James Vince as part of the Sixers' overseas contingent.

"I'm really excited to be coming to the BBL and the Sydney Sixers," Holder said. "I've wanted to for a few years now and this year I have the opportunity to come in and make some appearances and hopefully do a bit for the Sixers."

Holder said he was looking forward to reuniting with Sixers skipper Moises Henriques, having played alongside him in the IPL.

"BBL cricket is an interest for me and the Sixers have been successful over the past few years. Moises and I played together at Sunrisers and I really enjoyed that. It will be good to do it again."

Texans' Fuller banned 6 games under PED policy

Published in Breaking News
Monday, 30 November 2020 17:26

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V has been suspended for six games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Fuller said the violation was a result of his taking prescribed medication not permitted under the policy.

"Earlier this year, I sought treatment from a medical professional who prescribed medication that he believed to be permitted under the NFL's drug policy," Fuller wrote on Instagram. "As it turns out, my trust in this professional was misplaced because this medication was NOT a permitted substance under the NFL Policy on Performance Enhancing Substances.

"As a result of this mistake, I have been suspended for six games for taking this prohibited medication. I want to sincerely apologize to the Texans organization and all of my fans for this mistake. I am looking forward to putting this all behind me and returning better than ever in 2021."

The suspension will take Fuller through the last five games of this season and the first of the 2021 season.

Fuller is coming off his best game of the season -- in a year full of impressive performances -- against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, when he added six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns to his impressive 2020 totals. Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Through 11 games, Fuller has more receiving yards and touchdowns than the Texans' former No. 1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, had for Houston at this point last season.

After missing 22 games in his first four seasons in the NFL, Fuller had not missed a game this season. He was playing on his fifth-year option and will be a free agent after the season. With Fuller suspended, Randall Cobb on injured reserve and Kenny Stills recently released, the Texans are left with four receivers: Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, Isaiah Coulter and Steven Mitchell, who is on the practice squad.

Ravens-Steelers PPD to Wednesday at 3:40 p.m.

Published in Breaking News
Monday, 30 November 2020 17:26

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The COVID-19 outbreak in Baltimore has led to the Ravens-Steelers game being postponed to Wednesday.

The game is scheduled to kick off at 3:40 p.m. ET. It becomes the first game of the NFL season to get postponed three times. The game is kicking off at 3:40 p.m. because NBC, which is broadcasting the game, wanted to honor its commitment to broadcast the 88th Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday night, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

With the latest postponement, the Steelers' Week 13 game on Sunday against the Washington Football Team will now be played Monday at 5 p.m. ET, and the Ravens' Week 13 game against the Dallas Cowboys, which had already been moved once to Dec. 7, will now be played Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 8:05 p.m. ET.

While the Steelers-Washington game was pushed to Monday, the Ravens' game against the Cowboys was pushed to Tuesday because of scheduling, a league source told ESPN's Brooke Pryor.

"These decisions were made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts," the NFL said in a statement.

The Steelers preferred to play the Ravens this week, rather than postponing to later in the season, like a Week 18 game, because of the "can of worms" that could open, sources told Pryor. The Steelers were also in favor of pushing the Sunday game against the Washington Football Team to Monday for an added day of rest, sources said.

The Week 12 game between the Ravens and Steelers that was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night -- and was moved to Sunday and then Tuesday night -- was shifted for the third time. This will mark the NFL's first game on Wednesday since the 2012 season opener between the Cowboys and New York Giants, which was scheduled for that day to avoid a conflict with President Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

The latest postponement came after the Ravens players said Monday in a teleconference meeting that they did not want to play Tuesday because of concerns over safety. Baltimore had another positive test on Monday, making it nine straight days with at least one player testing positive. The source added that one suggestion from the players was to move the game to Thursday, but the NFL compromised by shifting it to Wednesday.

The Ravens will hold a walkthrough Monday night and will hold another one before departing for Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Baltimore hasn't had a full practice since Nov. 20, a span of 10 days.

"This evening, we hosted a safely distanced walk-through/conditioning session at the Under Armour Performance Center," the Ravens said in a statement Monday. "Players arrived already prepared to work out on the field, and they did not enter the locker room or training room. "We intend to hold another walk-through session on Tuesday, in preparation for traveling to Pittsburgh Tuesday evening."

For the Ravens, Monday was perhaps the strangest day in what has been one of the most challenging weeks in franchise history. Players had reported to the team facility about a half hour before the scheduled 9:30 a.m. practice when the NFL canceled it to wait for the latest test results, a source said. The Ravens waited most of the day not knowing whether they would practice again that afternoon and board a plane to play the NFL's only undefeated team. The day ended with the game between AFC North rivals getting moved for the third time in six days.

Baltimore is in the midst of one of the largest outbreaks in professional sports. The Ravens have had 22 players test positive or get identified as a high-risk close contact over the past nine days.

At least a dozen Ravens players have tested positive, including reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, along with five Pro Bowl players: defensive end Calais Campbell, tight end Mark Andrews, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, running back Mark Ingram and fullback Patrick Ricard.

The Ravens still have 20 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Baltimore added four players (Andrews, Judon, wide receiver Willie Snead IV and cornerback Terrell Bonds) and removed four players (outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson, offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, cornerback Iman Marshall and defensive tackle Broderick Washington). Marshall will revert to injured reserve.

Running backs JK Dobbins and Ingram will be eligible to play Wednesday but 13 Ravens players, including Jackson, will remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list, a source told Schefter.

As of Monday evening, the Ravens have 38 players on their 53-man roster after guard Tyre Phillips (shoulder) was activated off injured reserve and cornerback Davontae Harris was officially signed.

Monday's round of Ravens tests produced one new positive result, but it's a player on injured reserve who hasn't had close contact with anyone else, a source told ESPN's Dan Graziano.

The only other game this season that had previously been postponed twice was a Week 5 game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. Positive coronavirus tests in New England pushed that game from Oct. 11 to Oct. 12 before it was played on Oct. 18.

The Ravens-Steelers game becomes the second Wednesday game in the NFL since 1948. The last one before the 2012 season opener was Sept. 22, 1948, when the Los Angeles Rams played the Detroit Lions.

Okongwu among Hawks newbies nursing injuries

Published in Basketball
Monday, 30 November 2020 16:27

ATLANTA -- Three Atlanta Hawks newcomers are dealing with injuries as the team prepares to open training camp.

Most notably, first-round draft pick Onyeka Okongwu has inflammation in the sesamoid bone of his left foot. An MRI confirmed the condition, which has forced the No. 6 overall selection from USC to make a gradual return to form shooting and conditioning activities.

Okongwu is expected to back up center Clint Capela and provide a defensive presence for the revamped Hawks.

The team also announced that guards Kris Dunn (right knee cartilage) and Tony Snell (right foot inflammation) underwent MRIs. Dunn is able to participate in modified individual workouts, while Snell had resumed limited form shooting and conditioning activities.

All three players will be evaluated again on Dec. 11, when the Hawks are set to host the Orlando Magic in their first of four preseason games.

Dunn was among the Hawks' hefty class of free agents, while Snell was acquired in a trade with the Detroit Pistons. Both are expected to provide valuable minutes off the bench this season.

Ex-NBAer Bogut retires from competitive hoops

Published in Basketball
Monday, 30 November 2020 16:27

Andrew Bogut has announced his retirement from professional basketball.

Widely regarded as one the greatest and most successful players in Australian basketball history, Bogut made the announcement on his Rogues Bogues podcast on Tuesday morning, choosing to put an end to a professional career that spanned 15 years.

It was thought that Bogut, 36, would end his basketball career after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but the Sydney Kings center has decided to call time early.

Bogut mentioned a series of injuries he had to overcome over the off-season, including getting his ankle "cleaned out", as well as being forced to get surgery to relieve a sciatica in his back.

"The decision hasn't been an easy one, but I think it is the right decision," Bogut said. "The decision that I made and where I will be signing for next season is absolutely nowhere. I will be retiring from professional basketball, effective immediately.

"We are in late November now. I would have made this decision earlier if it wasn't for the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. I was hoping to get to the 2020 Olympics and call it the day after that as it would have been a great accolade to get a fourth Olympics, but it's just not meant to be."

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Bogut suited up for five different teams - the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers - winning one NBA Championship, being named to the All-Rookie First Team (2006), an All-NBA Third Team (2010), an All-Defensive Second Team (2015), while finishing a season as the leader in blocked shots (2011).

After an injury-riddled career in the NBA, the native of Victoria chose to end his career in Australia's NBL, signing with the Sydney Kings in 2018; going on to win the league's MVP award in his first season with the team.

During his final season with the Kings, Bogut averaged 8.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game, as the Will Weaver-led team chose to withdraw from the 2020 NBL Grand Final due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I can't physically and mentally get to 2021 with the way my body has been," Bogut said.

"I could get there with a lot of painkillers and mental anguish but it's just not worth it.

"I'm really starting to value my health away from the court and my health when I'm 40, 45, and 50. Some people might say it's only six months of training but I'm at a point where I just can't do it."

Over 14 years in the NBA, Bogut finished with career averages of 9.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game.

During his time in the NBA, NBL, and with the Australian senior national team, Bogut made a name for himself as one of the best passing big-men in the history of the sport, while also demonstrating himself to be an elite rim protector.

Bogut shot to international stardom at the 2003 FIBA under-19 World Championship, where he led Australia to a gold medal, while walking away with the tournament's most valuable player award. That would lead into a two-year stint at the University of Utah, where, as a sophomore, Bogut was named the Naismith College Player of the Year. His No. 4 jersey was retired by Utah in 2006.

In 2005, Bogut became the first of what's now three Australians to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick in an NBA Draft, joining the Bucks. In 2012, Bogut was traded to the Warriors, where he would win an NBA Championship, playing a key role for Stephen Curry's team en route to the 2015 title.

The 7-footer had short stints in Dallas, Cleveland, and with the Los Angeles Lakers, before returning to Australia to be with his wife, who was undergoing a high-risk pregnancy.

Bogut's NBA career had unfortunately been riddled with freak injuries, with the most recent serious diagnosis being a fractured tibia, in early 2017.

During his first season in the NBL, Bogut appeared in every game for the Kings, but he admitted that his health diminished over time.

"I'm not going to lie; the last two years have been a real challenge for me just to get out of bed in the mornings, let alone going to a training session or a game," Bogut said.

"The body from 2018 onwards was hanging by a thread.

"In the 2019-20 season, that thread was completely frayed and in little pieces. It was beyond hanging by a thread. It was really frustrating for me, but this off-season I've been able to get up in the mornings and walk pain free."

Bogut currently lives in Melbourne, and has been based in his hometown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schroder says he intends to start at PG for Lakers

Published in Basketball
Monday, 30 November 2020 16:27

LOS ANGELES -- LeBron James could be one and done playing the 1 for the Los Angeles Lakers. The newly acquired Dennis Schroder said he intends to start at point guard for the defending champions.

"I did this off-the-bench stuff already in two years with OKC," Schroder, who finished second behind teammate Montrezl Harrell for Sixth Man of the Year for his role with the Thunder, said on an introductory videoconference call with reporters Monday. "I think I try to move forward, and I think with [Anthony Davis] and LeBron, I can be helpful as a starter in the PG position."

Schroder said that he has not spoken to Lakers coach Frank Vogel about his desire to start, however his representatives, Alex Saratsis and Jeff Austin of Octagon, discussed that aspect with the Lakers front office prior to L.A.'s trading guard Danny Green and the No. 28 pick in the draft to the Thunder to complete the deal.

"I think my agent talked to the organization before they was trading me," he said "So, that's that."

The Lakers have not settled upon their starting lineup, sources told ESPN. Though Schroder will be considered for the starting point guard spot, he could also be asked to fill in off the bench, sources said.

James, who turns 36 next month, led the league in assists for the first time in his career last season, averaging 10.2 per game, and led L.A. to the title while shifting from his traditional position of small forward to point guard.

Although James has always played with the ball in his hands -- playing the unofficial point forward position -- the change did affect his scoring. His points per game dipped from 27.4 in his first season in L.A. to 25.3, and his shot attempts per game dropped from 19.9 to 19.4.

Schroder, who averaged 18.9 points and four assists per game as Chris Paul's backup for the Thunder last season, said he can alleviate some of James' responsibilities as the four-time champion enters into his 18th season. "LeBron don't have [to have] so much stuff in his mind," Schroder said. "I can bring it up, call a set play or whatever and put him in a position to score. I think him to play off-the-ball, I mean, is I think great. I think that's the reason why they brought me in."

If Schroder does start, Vogel will have to get creative with the backup point guard role, based on the Lakers' current roster construction. Rajon Rondo, who was the primary backup last season, signed with the Atlanta Hawks as a free agent. And the Lakers waived Quinn Cook, who also played the position.

L.A. is entering training camp with two other ball handlers in Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker on the reserve roster, but no players who have traditionally identified as a point guard. The Lakers also signed Zavier Simpson to an Exhibit 10 contract, which would offer him a $50,000 bonus to play for the Lakers' G League team, the South Bay Lakers, if he does not make the roster. Simpson averaged 7.9 assists per game as a senior at the University of Michigan.

Schroder is in the final year of his contract and will make $15.5 million this season. He was asked if he viewed the Lakers as a long-term fit.

"End of the day, I just try to focus on this year," he said. "But if it's a fair deal and everything goes right, then, of course, I think long term. But I just try to lock in now for this season, take it day by day and let's see if we come to an agreement on that."

The eight-year veteran was in his native Germany when the trade with the Lakers was consummated. He has since relocated to L.A. with his wife and two young children. He took a break from a workout on the court at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, California, on Monday to conduct the videoconference on the phone, while wearing a purple Lakers' shirt and yellow headband.

"It's an honor to be here in this organization," Schroder said. "I think they brought me in for a reason. You know, we'll try to get the repeat. I think for this organization, winning 17 championships, this history is big-time. And to be in the biggest platform in the NBA, biggest team, biggest organization, I think I'm excited. I'm honored that I'm here. And I can't wait to get started."

Marlins acquire Cimber from Indians, DFA Urena

Published in Baseball
Monday, 30 November 2020 14:48

CLEVELAND -- The Indians sold side-arm reliever Adam Cimber to the Marlins on Monday for $100,000, and Miami designated right-hander José Ureña for assignment.

Ureña, the Marlins' Opening Day starter in 2018 and 2019, spent six seasons with the Marlins and had been with them longer than any other active player. He went 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts last season, when he had a $3.75 million salary and earned $1,388,889 in prorated pay. He had been projected for a salary of about $4 million for 2021.

Cimber went 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in 14 games this past season for Cleveland, which acquired the right-hander in 2018 from the San Diego Padres in the deal that brought All-Star closer Brad Hand to the Indians.

Cimber, 30, went 6-7 with a 4.30 ERA in 110 appearances with the Indians over 2½ seasons. He was 6-3 in 2019, when he pitched in 68 games.

San Diego selected him in the ninth round of 2013 amateur draft. He pitched in 42 games for the Padres in 2018 before he was traded to Cleveland.

Planning for an uncertain future

Published in Athletics
Monday, 30 November 2020 01:20
Toni Minichiello looks at the challenges Covid-19 has brought and offers advice to athletes and coaches starting their winter training

Normally, the big question for an athlete is: “What am I training for?” But this has been tough to answer over the past eight months.

During lockdown earlier this year I asked my athletes firstly if they wanted to try to compete or not, which is a straightforward ‘yes/no’ answer. Then I asked what facilities were available to them. Then, based on the answers to those two questions, I began to shape individually what they were going to do. It was all about what the athlete could do once they made those critical decisions.

If they wanted to compete then they needed to be prepared to compete and to be fast and be doing technical work and so on. If they had facilities or a gym, then the outcome would be the same, so we’d work out how to do it.

If they didn’t want to compete, it would be different and we would be training to stay fit and to make physiological improvements where possible. If they were doing that, then we might add non-competition testing in their programme, such as time trials.

“As an athlete you are building a pyramid. You are putting a layer on year on year. Sometimes, such as maybe this coronavirus-hit season, you have put the layer on but just don’t get to cash in at the end and compete. But importantly the layer is still there”

One of the athletes I coach, for example, the heptathlete and Sheffield Hallam student Jade O’Dowda, improved her indoor pentathlon best by a couple of hundred points at the very start of the year and we were going to go to Italy to compete in April.

But when the pandemic broke out – in Italy more than anywhere else to start with – the competition was cancelled and when the English Champs were also called off, with no heptathlons this summer, she decided she did not want to compete this summer.

She went to stay with her brother, Callum, who plays for Bristol City FC and he had weights in his house and an exercise bike and access to football pitches. So I gave her sessions to do on the bike and exercises to do with the weights.

The football pitch was great too as she was on grass, so she did running with short recoveries and low-level plyometrics to make physical developments. There were no facilities for a while for field events but she was able to do drills like skipping for long jump, take-off and throwing drills – and so on.

Then she went back to stay with her parents in Oxford and the track there had opened up with limited use. We couldn’t do high jump but we could do a bit of hurdling, and throwing, we could run on a track and our opportunities opened up. Jade was able to find progress in certain areas such as her 800m ability for instance.

If you imagine as an athlete you are building a pyramid. You are putting a layer on year on year. And sometimes, such as maybe this coronavirus-hit season, you have put the layer on but just don’t get to cash in at the end and compete. But importantly the layer is still there.

In 2008 Jess (Ennis-Hill, pictured above with Minichiello) missed the Olympics. She did a whole winter’s training and we had decided not to do an indoor season because we were preparing for the Beijing Games.

She did a lot of work until May but then she twanged her foot. However, we’d put cash in the bank and made physical inroads and she was stronger in the gym and quicker on the track.

So, for athletes moving forward now, you have to ask whether you have made those physical changes and if you have then that’s the new level that you’ve got to step on from. Don’t automatically think you’re a layer lower down from where you were before.

You might no longer be a 12.00 sprinter but instead you might be an 11.8 sprinter. If so, train from there.

Don’t think “I didn’t get to race so I didn’t get to find out if I’m an 11.8 sprinter and so I’ll continue to train like I’m a 12-second sprinter”. If you do that you’ll be static and not improve. You need to keep moving forward.

The body loves confusion. You need to stress it in order to get the enhancement. And the way to find out if you’ve made the enhancement is to test it.

If you’ve not been able to test it through the traditional stopwatch or tape measure in competition, then you have to test it in another way. So with Jade, for example, she time trialled a 500m and 300m with a minute recovery to find out if she’s enhanced her 800m – and she has and it’s moved on.

“The body loves confusion. You need to stress it in order to get the enhancement”

There is a lot of work that coaches need to do in assessing where their athlete is now. Likewise, if you’ve done absolutely nothing then you may have made steps backwards and, for every step backwards, you need to work to get back to where you used to be, before you can advance. Otherwise injury is a likely outcome. The body needs stress to adapt but too much stress and it can break.

As for coming months, it’s very hard to tell, for example, if we’re going to have an indoor season. So the best we can do is make a plan and be prepared to change it.

I have a “glass half-full” attitude, so we might very well have a season and we’re preparing for that. We will still be training hard and we will be stepping forwards. We just won’t potentially get to cash in during the indoor season.

Even the competitions next summer are in some doubt but the only thing I can do as a coach is make my athlete physically fitter, physically stronger, more efficient and technically better wherever I can in the environment they’ve got. That’s still my goal, even though I might not get to see them compete.

The coach-athlete relationship is fundamental and whether we have Covid or not then a coach should be able to say: “This is our plan”.

Wasps hooker Alfie Barbeary has been called up to the England squad for the Autumn Nations Cup final against France on Sunday.

Barbeary, 20, only made his first Premiership start in September and has scored six tries.

He has won three England Under-20 caps and was part of his country's 2019 World Rugby Under-20 Championship squad.

Centre Jonathan Joseph has withdrawn from the squad with a calf injury.

PHOTOS: Gallery Of Champions Part 4

Published in Racing
Monday, 30 November 2020 12:00


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Okongwu among Hawks newbies nursing injuries

Okongwu among Hawks newbies nursing injuries

ATLANTA -- Three Atlanta Hawks newcomers are dealing with injuries as the team prepares to open trai...

Ex-NBAer Bogut retires from competitive hoops

Ex-NBAer Bogut retires from competitive hoops

Andrew Bogut has announced his retirement from professional basketball.Widely regarded as one the gr...


Marlins acquire Cimber from Indians, DFA Urena

Marlins acquire Cimber from Indians, DFA Urena

CLEVELAND -- The Indians sold side-arm reliever Adam Cimber to the Marlins on Monday for $100,000, a...

MLB launches wood-bat league for prospects

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