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The Itzulia Basque Country stage race witnessed a significant setback as a high-speed crash on a descent led to severe injuries for several top cyclists, including the reigning Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard, race leader Primoz Roglic, and Remco Evenepoel. Vingegaard, aged 27, suffered a broken collarbone and multiple ribs, requiring medical attention.

Similarly, Roglic and Evenepoel sustained injuries significant enough to force them out of the race. Additionally, Jay Vine of UAE Team Emirates suffered fractures in his cervical and two thoracic spine vertebral bodies, highlighting the severity of the incident.

The aftermath of the crash prompted race officials to take action. With safety concerns prevailing, the remaining 35 kilometers of Thursday’s fourth stage were neutralized. Only a select few from the front group contested for the stage win, with Louis Meintjes ultimately clinching victory.

Despite the competitive spirit, the prevailing sentiment was one of concern and acknowledgment that winning under such circumstances was not the ideal scenario. Meintjes and his team, Intermarche-Wanty, expressed their thoughts and solidarity with the injured riders, emphasizing the paramount importance of the safety and well-being of all participants.

In terms of race logistics, the crash had significant implications for the general classification. Stage organizers announced that the times from the affected stage would not be factored into the overall standings, recognizing the extraordinary circumstances. As a result, the previous standings, where Roglic held a seven-second lead over Evenepoel, were nullified.

The race dynamics shifted, and Danish rider Mattias Skjelmose of Lidl-Trek now finds himself leading the overall standings by a margin of four seconds heading into the fifth stage of the six-stage race. The crash not only altered the competitive landscape but also underscored the inherent risks and challenges faced by cyclists in professional racing.

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The decision by the German Football Association (DFB) to change the supplier of the national team’s kit from Adidas to Nike starting in 2027 has sparked strong reactions from German politicians. Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach both voiced their disapproval, with Habeck expressing a desire for more local patriotism and Lauterbach labeling the move as “wrong”. The long-standing partnership between Adidas and the German national team, spanning over 70 years, has been a significant part of the country’s football culture.

The DFB defended its decision, emphasizing the financial benefits and support for grassroots football in Germany that the new partnership with Nike would bring. Despite understanding the emotional attachment to the Adidas brand, the DFB stated that economic considerations necessitated the switch. Nike’s substantially higher financial offer, reported to be around €100 million annually compared to Adidas’s €50 million, played a significant role in the decision-making process.

The controversy surrounding the change in kit supplier highlights the intersection of sports, tradition, and commerce. Politicians from across the political spectrum in Germany have expressed concerns about departing from a longstanding partnership that is deeply intertwined with the national team’s identity. As the DFB navigates this transition, it faces the challenge of balancing financial imperatives with the preservation of cultural and sporting heritage.

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Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has received a four-year ban for doping, following an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Valieva had initially been cleared by a Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) investigation, which found no fault on her part for a failed test before the 2022 Winter Olympics, where she won team gold at the age of 15.

The ban, backdated to December 25, 2021, the date of the failed test, includes the disqualification of all competitive results achieved from that date. CAS clarified that the decision on whether to strip Russia of the gold medal would be examined by the relevant sports organizations, not within the scope of the arbitration procedure.

Valieva did not contest the presence of the banned substance, and CAS ruled that she failed to establish, on the balance of probabilities, that the Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) was not intentional. The Kremlin criticized the CAS ruling as a “politicized” decision, while the Russian Olympic Committee stated that “in effect war has been declared on Russia.”

WADA emphasized the severity of doping involving minors and called for legal consequences for doctors, coaches, or support personnel providing performance-enhancing substances to minors. The United States is expected to be awarded gold in the team figure skating event in Beijing, with Japan and Canada receiving silver and bronze, respectively.

The controversy surrounding Valieva’s doping case is seen as another chapter in Russia’s doping scandal, with the country’s athletes competing at the Beijing Games under the neutral name of the Russian Olympic Committee. The CAS decision has sparked concerns about the credibility of the Russian anti-doping system, with calls for increased vigilance.

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Poland’s Iga Swiatek, the world number one, suffered a surprising defeat in the third round of the Australian Open to 19-year-old Czech player Linda Noskova. Despite initially appearing in control, Swiatek faltered against Noskova’s power, eventually losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena. Noskova, ranked 50th in the world, expressed her disbelief and joy at reaching the fourth round of a major for the first time.

Noskova, making her main draw debut in Melbourne, broke Swiatek in the deciding set and secured the victory on her first match point. This loss also ended Swiatek’s 18-match unbeaten streak. Other top seeds, including Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula, and Ons Jabeur, had already been eliminated in earlier rounds.

Noskova will face either Ukrainian 19th seed Elina Svitolina or Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic in the next round. In other matches, China’s Zheng Qinwen, the 12th seed, won a third-set tie-break against compatriot Wang Yafan. Zheng will play French player Oceane Dodin in the fourth round. Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka advanced with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko.

Russian Anna Kalinskaya defeated American Sloane Stephens, setting up a clash with Italian Jasmine Paolini. This ensures a first-time major semi-finalist in Zheng’s section of the draw. Paolini will face Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska, who overcame American 27th seed Emma Navarro.

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Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba has faced confirmation of his failed drug test, as his B sample also tested positive. The 30-year-old was provisionally suspended following elevated testosterone levels in his initial sample after Juventus’ game against Udinese on August 20, where he was an unused substitute. If found guilty of doping, he could face a suspension ranging from two to four years.

Nado Italia, the anti-doping body, stated that Pogba had violated rules with the presence of prohibited non-endogenous testosterone metabolites, suggesting an external source. Testosterone is known to enhance athletes’ endurance. Athletes have the option to have their B sample analyzed if the first sample returns adverse results.

Pogba intends to clear his name, asserting that any potential banned substance use was unintentional. His agent, Rafaela Pimenta, emphasized Pogba’s lack of intention to break any rules. Pogba rejoined Juventus on a four-year contract in July 2022, following the end of his contract at Manchester United. However, his return to Turin has been marred by recurring injury issues, including a recent minor back problem mentioned by Juventus boss Massimo Allegri.

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FIFA has confirmed that the 2030 World Cup will be hosted across six countries spanning three continents. Spain, Portugal, and Morocco are set to co-host the tournament, with the opening matches taking place in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay to commemorate the World Cup’s centenary. This decision is expected to be ratified at a FIFA congress next year.

The choice of co-hosting the tournament across multiple continents has drawn criticism, with concerns raised about its impact on fans, the environment, and human rights. FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, emphasized the unique global footprint this approach would create, uniting Africa, Europe, and South America.

This proposal signifies a significant change for the World Cup, as teams may find themselves playing in two different seasons due to the hemisphere switch. If approved, Morocco will become only the second African nation to host a World Cup. Spain, Portugal, Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay will also qualify automatically as co-hosts.

In addition to the World Cup announcement, FIFA revealed that only bids from countries within the Asian Football Confederation and the Oceania Football Confederation would be considered for the 2034 finals. This led to Saudi Arabia announcing its bid for the 2034 tournament. The deadline for prospective hosts to express interest is October 31.

FIFA’s decision to expand the World Cup across three continents has raised concerns about sustainability and climate impact, given the significant air travel and emissions associated with such a large-scale event.

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A Spanish prosecutor has taken legal action against Luis Rubiales, the suspended president of the football federation, on charges of sexual assault and coercion. The case stems from an incident in which Rubiales kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso without her consent following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final victory.

Hermoso has filed a formal complaint against the unwanted kiss, prompting the prosecutor, Marta Durantez Gil, to also include a charge of coercion in the complaint submitted to the high court. The prosecutor’s office mentioned that Hermoso claimed that Rubiales and his professional associates had pressured her family to support the incident. The prosecutor is now seeking to question Rubiales as a suspect and Hermoso as the victim in the case.

Additionally, they have requested information from Australian authorities, where the incident occurred. This legal action follows a preliminary investigation initiated by Spanish prosecutors on August 28, which aimed to determine if the incident constituted sexual assault.

The move came in response to Hermoso’s unequivocal statements. Despite the ongoing legal proceedings, Rubiales has refused to step down as the president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), maintaining that he will not resign and alleging a character assassination campaign against him.

FIFA has provisionally suspended Rubiales and launched disciplinary proceedings in response to the allegations.

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James McClean, a football player, has expressed gratitude to his hometown for providing him the courage to pursue his footballing aspirations.

On Monday against Gibraltar, the Creggan-born star earned his 100th cap for the Republic of Ireland.

He is the eighth player in Republic history to win 100 caps.

McClean said to BBC Radio Foyle, “If it wasn’t for what I learned growing up in Creggan, then I wouldn’t be where I am now.

A celebration honouring McClean’s 100 caps will take place later today at the Derry estate, on the street where he originally developed his footballing prowess.

“I’ll be there, and it’ll be lovely to speak with and see the locals again,” he said in an interview with The North West Today show.

“Creggan is my home, and I’m proud of that,” he continued. They are pleased with me too.

They feel invested in my profession, which means a lot to me. I’m one of them, which is a very grounded way to be. I appreciate everything from Creggan.

It’s not the first time Creggan has commemorated one of its famous footballers.

Barcelona has a Messi mural, Naples has a Maradona artwork, and a Central Drive wall in Creggan has a massive McClean mural.

He still thinks the tribute to be surreal.

“I’ll never get accustomed to passing the Creggan mural while walking. I used to kick the ball around the Creggan shops as a child, and now I’m perched on a wall.

“Walking by every day is surreal but also very special for my family.”

McClean, aged 34, has had a long career in England after leaving his hometown club Derry City. He has played for Sunderland, Stoke, Wigan Athletic, and West Bromwich Albion.

It hasn’t been a career without its share of difficulties though; vitriol hurled towards the 34-year-old is widely known.

It’s “different scale” than what other athletes confront, in his perspective. He said that his upbringing had given him the tools to handle the worst of it.

“Most of the time, it’s just water off a duck’s back. You are an outcome of your surroundings. Creggan is resilient and sturdy. I am the same way myself.

Ireland’s newest football centurion is “in a good place right now – and content”.

And he’s not ruling out a return home to where it all started.

“I’ve always been open that I want to end my career at Derry City. At the minute there’s no timeframe for that.”

He added: “You never rule out things because you don’t know what’s around the corner”.

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Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racial taunts from Juventus supporters after converting a last-second penalty for Inter Milan and receiving a red card in the Coppa Italia match.

After scoring a penalty in the 95th minute, Lukaku received a second yellow card for celebrating in front of the home crowd.

The abuse was “beyond horrible,” according to Michael Yormark, head of Lukaku’s agency Roc Nation Sports International. Juventus promised to collaborate with the police to find the culprits.

A statement read: “Juventus Football Club, as always, are collaborating with the police to identify those responsible for the racist gestures and chants which took place last night.”

Following Lukaku’s equaliser, fights broke out amongst players from both teams.

At the final whistle, Inter captain Samir Handanovic and midfielder Juan Cuadrado received red cards, and the brawl continued down the tunnel.

“Tonight’s racist remarks made towards Romelu Lukaku by Juventus fans in Turin were beyond despicable and cannot be accepted,” Yormark said in a statement..

“Romelu scored a penalty late in the game. Before, during and after the penalty, he was subjected to hostile and disgusting racist abuse.

“Romelu celebrated in the same manner he has previously celebrated goals. The referee’s response was to award a yellow card to Romelu.

“Romelu deserves an apology from Juventus and I expect the league to condemn the behaviour of this group of Juventus supporters immediately.

“The Italian authorities must use this opportunity to tackle racism, rather than punish the victim of the abuse.”

During his first stint at Inter between 2019 and 2021, Lukaku, who returned to Inter on loan from Chelsea, experienced racism.

He claimed the sport “was moving backwards” in September 2019 after being subjected to racial taunts from Cagliari supporters.

As Cagliari were later exonerated of using racist chants, Piara Powar, the head of the anti-discrimination organisation Fare, claimed that the Italian football league’s disciplinary procedures were “not fit for purpose.”

Football racism, according to Lukaku, is at a “all-time high” and needs to be addressed further, players, football officials, and social media, in September 2021.

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Neymar, the football player, moved from Brazil to Barcelona nine years ago, and now he is being tried for suspected irregularities in the transfer. The Brazilian international who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain is charged with fraud and corruption in a judicial battle that has dragged on for years.

One month before the World Cup in Qatar, the trial is scheduled to begin on October 17 and last for two weeks. Other individuals are also scheduled to go on trial. According to Spanish publications, the same accusations are levelled against Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, two previous presidents of the Barcelona football club, as well as Neymar’s parents.

All parties involved in the dispute have consistently refuted the claims made by investment group DIS, which claimed it was due a 40% cut of the money Neymar paid to leave Brazilian side Santos in 2013. Legal disputes have long cast a shadow over the exorbitant transfer fees paid for the 30-year-old PSG midfielder.

An out-of-court settlement involving the footballer’s record €222m transfer to Paris St-Germain in 2017 was agreed by Barcelona and the player a year ago. When he signed a new deal in 2016, the team declared at the time that he needed to repay the millions of euros he had earned. But the Santos transfer in particular has resulted in a number of financial and legal disputes.

Due to irregularities in the transfer, Barcelona agreed to pay a €5.5 million fine to Spanish authorities in the Neymar 1 court case from 2016.

Prior to being exonerated of charges of money laundering for broadcast rights in 2019, Sandro Rosell, who resigned as the club’s president in 2014 amid the transfer investigation, served 20 months in prison.

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