Tag Archives: accusations

Manny Pacquiao weighs in four pounds heavier than Juan Manuel Marquez

Pacquiao weighs in four pounds heavier than Marquez ahead of fourth fight with rival

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UPDATED:

00:13 GMT, 8 December 2012

Manny Pacquiao weighed in four pounds heavier for the big fight in Las Vegas, even though Juan Manuel Marquez has grown into the bigger and heftier looking boxer during the past year.

Marquez, who refutes accusations that he has used steroids, has bulked up, at the age of 39, almost to the point of appearing muscle-bound.

Pacquiao hit the scales on the welterweight limit of 10st 7lb for the fourth fight between these two rivals.

Time to shine: Pacquiao and Marquez square up ahead of the fight in Las Vegas

Time to shine: Pacquiao and Marquez square up ahead of the fight in Las Vegas

Weighing it up: Manny Pacquiao (left) was four pounds heavier than Juan Manuel Marquez (right) ahead of their fourth fight

Weighing it up: Manny Pacquiao (left) was four pounds heavier than Juan Manuel Marquez (right) ahead of their fourth fight

The PacMan dedicated this final act in their saga to the victims of a hurricane in the Philippines, where he is a congressman, while Marquez talked about trying to find 'that grain extra' which might finally give him victory after two narrow losses and a draw.

Pacquiao looked concerned, and perhaps distracted by events at home.

He said: 'It is important for me to represent my country in the ring and to win this fight.

'But the reason I have gone into politics is to try to help my people.'

In good shape: Pacquiao dedicated the bout to people in the Philippines

In good shape: Pacquiao dedicated the bout to people in the Philippines

Chelsea admit regrets over Mark Clattenburg race row

We got it wrong over Clattenburg, admit Chelsea… but still no apology for starting ref race storm

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UPDATED:

19:22 GMT, 27 November 2012

Chelsea have at last admitted they ‘regret’ being so quick to accuse Mark Clattenburg of racially abusing two of their players — but they have STILL not apologised for making the accusation public.

The club held secret peace talks with Clattenburg and his 15 elite referee colleagues on Monday.

Bruce Buck, the Stamford Bridge chairman, travelled to the National Football Centre at St George’s Park on the request of all Premier League match officials.

Dragged through the mud: Chelsea say they regret the way they acted over the Mark Clattenburg debacle

Dragged through the mud: Chelsea say they regret the way they acted over the Mark Clattenburg debacle

Allegations: Chelsea claimed Clattenburg had referred to John Obi Mikel as a 'monkey'

Allegations: Chelsea claimed Clattenburg had referred to John Obi Mikel as a 'monkey'

They met in a bid to repair the damage
caused by the false accusations of racism that were levelled against
Clattenburg. At some point during the meeting Buck shook hands with the referee.

Part of the discussion even focused on the possibility of Clattenburg taking charge of a Chelsea game in the future.

Referee's union Prospect welcomed the joint statement by PGMOL, the Premier League, and Chelsea.

National secretary Alan Leighton said the use of the word 'regrets' in the joint statement were tantamount to and accepted by Clattenburg and the Select Group as an apology.

'This was an important move forward in confirming Chelsea's recognition of Mark's integrity and impartiality,' he said in a statement.

Leighton said the referees 'welcomed the opportunity to express their concerns about the way that Mark had been treated'.

He added: 'In a thoroughly professional manner, they explained what the impact had been in real terms and that there could be no repetition of the events.'

The joint statement read: ‘A meeting took place on Monday afternoon at St George’s Park between Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the Premier League and Chelsea Football Club.

‘PGMOL were represented by General Manager Mike Riley and all 16 Select Group referees, the Premier League by Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and Chelsea FC by Chairman Bruce Buck.

Trip: Bruce Buck (left) went to St Georges to speak to Clattenburg and the other referees, as well as Mike Riley and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore

Trip: Bruce Buck (left) went to St Georges to speak to Clattenburg and the other referees, as well as Mike Riley and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore

This is a joint statement from all parties.

‘Following the completion of the
investigation by The FA into the case involving Chelsea FC and Mark
Clattenburg, the Premier League and Chelsea FC requested, and PGMOL
agreed, to meet in order to discuss the issues surrounding the reporting
of the allegation.

‘There
was a constructive and open discussion. The club regrets not having
given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of
Sunday 28th October.

The club also regrets the subsequent impact the intense media scrutiny had on Mark Clattenburg and his family.

‘The referees accept that, given Chelsea
FC had received a good faith claim from one of their employees, the club
had an obligation under FA rules to report the allegation.

‘There was recognition by all parties that the impartiality and integrity of refereeing in this country remains paramount.

Chelsea FC made it clear they would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge in the future and PGMOL would have no issue in appointing him to a Chelsea FC match going forward.

‘It was a thoroughly professional meeting. All parties now believe it is time to draw a line under this incident, learn from it and move on for the good of all Premier League clubs, players and match officials.’

The Football Association last week decided to take no disciplinary action against Clattenburg following an investigation into Chelsea's allegation he used 'inappropriate language' against midfielder John Obi Mikel, while the police also shelved a probe into the matter.

Mark Noble defends Andy Carroll

Andy's not soft! Noble says if West Ham team-mate Carroll never went to ground he wouldn't win any fouls

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UPDATED:

21:28 GMT, 21 October 2012

Mark Noble has defended Andy Carroll from accusations he goes to ground too easily by arguing if the 6ft 3in England striker does not fall down he will never win fouls.

The West Ham midfielder responded to claims from Southampton’s Adam Lallana that Carroll won a succession of ‘soft’ free-kicks at Upton Park, two of which led to goals in the hosts’ 4-1 victory.

Carroll won five fouls in the match – the joint-most in the league with three others – and often struck an exasperated figure towards referee Neil Swarbrick at his perceived mistreatment.

Too easy Mark Noble defended Andy Carroll (left) for going down to easily

Too easy Mark Noble defended Andy Carroll (left) for going down to easily

But Lallana, who scored his first Premier League goal on Saturday, said: ‘Players are clever nowadays. You kind of draw fouls and it’s up to the referee whether he sees it as a foul, or whether he sees it as a player being soft.

‘Obviously they got a lot of free-kicks and put the ball in our area. But it’s not just down to that. We dealt with it fine first half, but obviously not the second.’

Noble, who scored directly from one set piece and earned a penalty when centre-back Jose Fonte handled another lofted ball, countered: ‘Andy’s a big man and if he doesn’t go down he won’t win any free-kicks because the refs think that’s he’s too big to get a free-kick.

‘When you’ve got somebody as big as Andy in the box he’s going to cause havoc. Centre-halves will be so desperate to win the ball that they’ll do anything.

'He got an elbow in the first half which went unpunished. But he can put up with it.’

Top form: Mark Noble (right) scored two goals against Southampton on Saturday

Top form: Mark Noble (right) scored two goals against Southampton on Saturday

Serbia FA want statements from those involved in England U21 match

Serbian FA demand statements from all involved in hate-filled U21 defeat to England

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UPDATED:

13:24 GMT, 18 October 2012

All Serbia's players and staff involved in Tuesday night's hugely controversial UEFA Under 21 playoff against England have been asked to make formal statements.

The match, which England won 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal from Connor Wickham to complete a 2-0 aggregate triumph, was marred by unsavoury scenes at the final whistle with scuffling on the pitch amid accusations of racism from the stands towards England left-back Danny Rose.

The Serbian federation (FSS) has announced its disciplinary committee held an extraordinary session this morning at which the request was made.

Scroll down for video

Fury: Danny Rose (right) is separated from Serbian player Milos Ninkovic by England colleague Craig Dawson

Fury: Danny Rose (right) is separated from Serbian player Milos Ninkovic by England colleague Craig Dawson

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UEFA on Wednesday night announced
charges against both the FSS and the English Football Association for
the improper conduct of their players, and against the Serbs for
'alleged racist chanting' by fans.

The FSS has now revealed an internal investigation is also under way.

A statement on its official website
read: 'In Belgrade today, there was an extraordinary session of the
disciplinary committee of the Football Association of Serbia.

'It was decided to officially request
statements from all the players and members of the professional staff
of the under-21 Serbia national team who took part in the second leg of
the play-off on October 16 in Krusevac.

'The deadline for submission of these
statements is three days. The disciplinary committee will decide which
individuals will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.'

The war of words which has erupted
following the game continued today, with Serbia midfielder Nikola
Ninkovic claiming the aggression he showed towards Rose was caused by
his opponent's 'inappropriate gestures' towards the home supporters.

Rose was sent off after the game had
ended for kicking the ball away in anger at what he perceived was racist
abuse from the crowd.

Seeing red: Rose is sent off by referee Huseyin Gocek after kicking a ball into the crowd

Seeing red: Rose is sent off by referee Huseyin Gocek after kicking a ball into the crowd

Ninkovic claims Rose was the
instigator in the trouble, telling Serbian newspaper Novosti: 'The guy
three or four times made inappropriate gestures towards our fans.

'I was angered by his reaction so I
rushed over to explain to him that he should not do that. I did not mean
to hit him or insult him. I walked over to him and pushed him.

'A lot of his behaviour annoyed me but I know I was wrong and I know I will get a fine. I just hope it will not be too big.

'He received a red card and I got a yellow. That is probably an indication that his share of the story was significant.'

Serbian FA president Tomislav Karadzic has apologised for his players' involvement but claimed they were not solely to blame.

'We witnessed ugly and inappropriate
scenes after the match in Krusevac,' he said. 'I take this opportunity
to once again apologise to all fans of football and the English FA's
delegation.

Fracas: England and Serbia players clash after the final whistle

Fracas: England and Serbia players clash after the final whistle

'The incident saw a fight which included individual players and members of the coaching staffs from both teams

'I have sent an apology on behalf of our association as we hosted the match, not that I think it was only our fault.'

He added: 'There was unacceptable
behaviour from certain members of our team. Youth is not an excuse for
foul and unsportsmanlike conduct and cannot be an excuse for individuals
from the staff who clearly violated the rules.

'I am pleased that the members of the disciplinary committee met today and requested the necessary information.'

Karadzic dismissed the notion that racism was a problem in Serbia.

'The Serbian people have never been,
nor will be racist,' he said. 'Our history testifies to this and the
crowd's reaction to the defeat should not be confused with one of the
greatest evils of the modern era. We have great confidence in the
authorities and UEFA to implement the correct procedures.'

Enraged: Marvin Sordell erupts next to the players' tunnel

Enraged: Marvin Sordell erupts next to the players' tunnel

Fist of fury: Serbia goalkeeping coach Srdjan Maksimovic throws a punch

Fist of fury: Serbia goalkeeping coach Srdjan Maksimovic throws a punch

The English FA has sent UEFA a full
dossier of evidence, including video footage and a catalogue of
incidents which they reported to match officials during and after the
match.

And FA general secretary Alex Horne has questioned whether they will play matches in Serbia again.

Horne said in a statement: 'We were shocked and appalled by the disgraceful events that occurred in Serbia.

Peacemaker: Serbia assistant coach Dejan Govedarica attempts to keep players apart

Peacemaker: Serbia assistant coach Dejan Govedarica attempts to keep players apart

Under attack: England coach Steve Wigley is thrown to the ground by Serbian players

Under attack: England coach Steve Wigley is thrown to the ground by Serbian players

'Our players and staff were subjected
to racial abuse (and) violence as well as missiles being thrown at them
throughout the match. What occurred is inexcusable and not acceptable.

'It is also clear that we must defend Danny Rose, who was sent off due to the frustration of being a target of racial abuse.

'FA officials made UEFA officials
aware of racist abuse from sections of the crowd aimed at a number of
England's black players at half-time.

'No football team should be asked to
play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening
behaviour is prevalent. We must question the validity of sending a team
to Serbia in the future.'

The cases will be dealt with at a meeting of UEFA's control and disciplinary body on November 22.

Video of the sickening monkey chants at the final whistle

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But Rio Ferdinand accused the FA of double standards in taking a tougher line against racism abroad than they do at home.

He tweeted: ‘Agreed, All jump on bandwagon when judging everyone else but all bottle merchants when it’s on home soil #DoubleStandards’.

The tweet was a reference to how Ferdinand believes he and his brother Anton were treated during the investigation into the racist comments aimed by John Terry at Anton during a game.

Serbia rap sheet

October 2000: Lazio’s Sinisa Mihajlovic, now Serbia’s coach, banned for two games for racially abusing Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira in Uefa Cup tie.

June 2007: Serbian FA fined 16,500 after England Under 21 players racially abused at European Championship.

July 2007: Partizan Belgrade kicked out of Uefa Cup after fans threw stones and fought with Zrinjski Mostar fans in Bosnia. Partizan also fined 25,000.

Sept 2009: French fan Brice Taton, 28, murdered by 30-strong group armed with iron bars and baseball bats ahead of Europa League match between Partizan and Toulouse. A Serbian court later jailed 14 men for a total of 240 years.

Oct 2010: Italy awarded 3-0 victory after Euro 2012 qualifier in Genoa against Serbia was abandoned after trouble from travelling hooligans. Game halted after six minutes, Serbs fined 104,000.

Nike dump Lance Armstrong amid "insurmountable evidence" he was drugs cheat

Finally, they've just done it: Armstrong dumped by Nike over doping and lying after investing tens of millions in cheat

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UPDATED:

12:58 GMT, 17 October 2012

Nike has terminated their sponsorship agreement with Lance Armstrong 'due to the
insurmountable evidence' he 'participated in doping and misled Nike for more
than a decade'.

The American sportswear giant had initially stood by by the seven-time Tour De France winner despite his role as ringleader in 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen'.

But Nike were forced to cut their ties with Armstrong after it became clear he had 'misled them for more than a decade'.

Frehs twist: Nike and Livestrong have distanced themselves from Lance Armstrong

Frehs twist: Nike and Livestrong have distanced themselves from Lance Armstrong

A Nike
statement said: 'Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance
Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a
decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract
with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing
drugs in any manner. Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong
initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by
cancer.'

The announcement came minutes after Armstrong revealed he was stepping down as
chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity so the group can
focus on its mission instead of the doping allegations surrounding the
former cycling champion.

The move came a week after the US Anti-Doping Agency released a damning report containing accusations of
widespread doping by Armstrong and his team-mates when he won the Tour de
France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.

The document's purpose
was to show why USADA has banned him from cycling for life and ordered
14 years of his career results erased – including his Tour titles. It
contains sworn statements from 26 witnesses, including 11 former
team-mates.

Armstrong, who was not paid a salary as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will remain on its 15-member board. His duties leading the board will be turned over to vice chairman Jeff Garvey, who was founding chairman in 1997.

Suspicion: Lance Armstrong is checked up back in the 2003 Tour de France

Suspicion: Lance Armstrong is checked up back in the 2003 Tour de France

'This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart,' Armstrong said in a statement.

'Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.'

Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane said the decision turns over the foundation's big-picture strategic planning to Garvey. He will also assume some of the public appearances and meetings that Armstrong used to handle.

Armstrong strongly denies doping, but did not fight USADA accusations through arbitration, saying he thinks the process is unfair. Once Armstrong gave up the fight in August and the report came out, crisis management experts predicted the future of the foundation, known mainly by its Livestrong brand name, would be threatened. They said Armstrong should consider stepping down to keep the charity from getting dragged into a debate over doping.

Big backers: Nike have long supported Armstrong - on the road and off it

Big backers: Nike were supporters of Armstrong – on the road and off it

The Armstrong scandal had taken a new twist on
Tuesday with the allegation that Nike paid $500,000 to the former head
of cycling’s world governing body, Hein Verbruggen, to cover up a
positive drugs test.

The
US sportswear giant, a long-time sponsor of Armstrong and his
Livestrong charity, said they were standing by him, despite the decision
of the US Anti-Doping Agency to ban him for life and strip him of his
seven Tour de France titles.

And
the company issued a statement on Tuesday night saying they ‘vehemently
deny’ that they ‘paid former UCI president Verbruggen $500,000 to
cover up a positive drug test’.

The statement said: 'In response to
the offensive allegations in today’s New York Daily News, Nike
vehemently denies that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen
$500,000 to cover up a positive drug test. Nike does not condone the use
of illegal performance enhancing drugs.'

It followed a report in the New York
Daily News that Kathy LeMond, wife of three-time Tour winner Greg,
testified under oath in 2006 that she was told by Armstrong’s mechanic,
Julien Devries, about the alleged donation in July 2000.

It is alleged the payment was made by
Nike and Thom Weisel, an American financier who helped set up
Armstrong’s team, and that it was paid into a Swiss bank account
belonging to Verbruggen, president of the UCI from 1991-2005, and now
UCI honorary president and an honorary member of the IOC.

Mrs LeMond confirmed to Sportsmail
last night that her testimony in 2006 followed a conversation with
Devries in July 2000. At the time, Devries was working for Armstrong,
but he had worked with, and been close to, LeMond, who retired in 1994.

Mrs LeMond said that Devries told her
in 2000 that the payment came after Armstrong tested positive for
corticosteroids at the 1999 Tour. ‘Everything else Julien told us has
turned out to be accurate,’ said Mrs LeMond.

Axed: Matthew White

Sacked: Armstrong's former team-mate Matthew White was axed by Cycling Australia on Tuesday after admitting doping between 2001 and 2003

She originally revealed her
conversation with Devries during a 2006 deposition in Texas after
Armstrong filed a lawsuit against SCA, an insurance company who withheld
a $5million bonus because of doping allegations in the book L.A.
Confidentiel.

The LeMonds — among the first
high-profile people to go public with their suspicions that Armstrong
doped — were called to testify by SCA. In the event, SCA paid the bonus,
though they have intimated in the last week that they will seek to
reclaim the money.

A UCI spokesman yesterday insisted
they would say nothing about the Armstrong case until 31 October, which
is the deadline for their response to USADA’s ‘Reasoned Decision’
against Armstrong and his team, US Postal.

Nike’s decision to continue
supporting Armstrong has drawn criticism and protests, with a former
team-mate of Armstrong, Paul Willerton, yesterday leading a group of
cycling fans to the company’s corporate headquarters in Beaverton,
Oregon.

Banners brandished by protesters included a variation on Nike’s slogan: ‘Just do the right thing: sack Lance.

Claims: Kathy Lemond pictured alongside husband Greg

Claims: Kathy Lemond pictured alongside husband Greg

'My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation
and that will not change. We plan to continue our service to the
foundation and the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for
cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer,' Armstrong said.

CharityWatch, which analyzes the work of approximately 600 charities,
lists the foundation among its top-rated organizations. That status
normally goes to groups which 'generally spend 75 percent or more of
their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public
support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve' and disclose of basic
financial information and documents.

Livestrong says it had functional expenses totaling nearly $35.8 million
last year and 82 percent of every dollar raised went directly to
programs, a total of more than $29.3 million.

The foundation reported a spike in contributions in late August in the
days immediately after Armstrong announced he would no longer fight
doping charges and officials moved to erase his Tour victories.

Daniel Borochoff, founder and president of Chicago-based CharityWatch,
said last week it may take some time for donors to digest the
allegations against Armstrong.

'Individuals that admire and support an individual who is later found
out to be severely tarnished, don't want to admit it, don't want to
admit that they've been duped,' Borochoff said. 'People, though, do need
to trust a charity to be able to support it.'

Rangers owner Charles Green will give SPL rivals the cold shoulder at Ibrox

Fuming Rangers owner Green will give SPL rivals the cold shoulder at Ibrox

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 20 September 2012

Charles Green has warned SPL clubs that some of them are no longer welcome at Ibrox.

Speaking before next week's visit of
Motherwell in the Scottish Communities League Cup, Green absolved the
Fir Park club of all blame for his club's expulsion to the Third
Division.

Cold shoulder: Rangers owner Charles Green

Cold shoulder: Rangers owner Charles Green

Turning his ire on the top-flight clubs he suspects 'bounced' others into banishing a newco Rangers from the SPL, however, the Yorkshireman betrayed a lingering sense of anger at Ibrox.

Already censured by the SFA over accusations of 'anti-Rangers bigotry' by rival clubs, an undeterred Green told Rangers TV: 'What fans have to understand is what occurred at Hampden over our SPL status when 10 clubs voted against and one abstained.

'Ally McCoist and I sat there and we know what happened. We know that only half of those clubs wanted Rangers out of that league. I believe that a number of the clubs were bounced into it.

'Why, for example, would Ross County spend all their lifetime trying to get into the SPL to find Rangers were not there

'But we understand what happened and we know the reasons behind it. We understand we have to suffer the punishment for the sins of the forefathers and we have done that.

'What we have to understand is not everyone in that room wanted Rangers out of that league and I know – because I could see glints in eyes – which ones were happy and which ones were not.

'We recognise what happened and when some of these clubs come to Ibrox they will be welcome. When others come, they won't be so welcome.'

With Rangers facing a three-year struggle back to the SPL, the only way top-tier clubs can visit Ibrox is via a domestic cup draw.

Following a Ramsdens Cup exit to Second Division Queen of the South on Tuesday, Rangers now host Motherwell in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday.

The Lanarkshire side consulted supporters who have invested in a fan-ownership scheme before lodging their own 'no' vote.

Absolving the Steelmen of anti-Rangers feeling, however, Green added: 'We know Rangers are bigger than all of this, so we ask the fans to get behind the club as they have done so well.

'I want them out there at the Motherwell game cheering, singing and waving the flags. 'Motherwell are suffering financially because Rangers are not in the SPL and we don't believe Motherwell are anti-Rangers.

'They were under pressure from their own fans and they took a decision, and we understand that.

'If you had taken all of these external pressures away, then Motherwell and other clubs would have voted differently.'

Alex Song: I wanted to stay at Arsenal for life

I wanted to stay at Arsenal for life! Song blasts back after being 'fobbed off' by Gunners

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UPDATED:

10:49 GMT, 26 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Alex Song has revealed he didn't want to leave Arsenal and planned to sign for the rest of his playing days before being sold to Barcelona.

The Cameroon midfielder was slated after he left The Emirates with sources at the Gunners saying Song regularly arrived late for training, took a half-hearted approach in sessions and did not follow instructions from the management staff.

Sources also claim Song’s levels of professionalism had dropped significantly.

Getting shirty: Song has blasted his former employers for letting him leave

Getting shirty: Song has blasted his former employers for letting him leave

Song was distraught by the accusations and claims he was forced out of the club he loved.

He told The Sun: 'I woke up and read those things in the paper and was really surprised and disappointed. I love Arsenal, I never wanted to leave.

'I was ready to commit my future to the club. All I wanted were talks about a new contract but each time we were due to sit down, the club postponed it. I was fobbed off.

'I wanted a new five-year contract at Arsenal. In the end I got one – at Barcelona.'

Song made 197 appearances for the Gunners after joining from French club Bastia for 1million in August 2006 and came second to top goalscorer Robin van Persie in the fans' Player of the Season poll last season.

New start: Song has signed a five-year deal with the Catalan giants

New start: Song has signed a five-year deal with the Catalan giants

New start: Song has signed a five-year deal with the Catalan giants

He approached the club to speak about a new deal as long ago as last November, but was told to wait until the New Year.

The next indication he received was that talks would begin in April, but this failed to materialise and he was told to wait until after Euro 2012.

Song added: 'I had been trying for eight months to start talking about a new long-term deal but the club kept postponing me all the time, saying “You have three years left”.

'I hadn’t talked about money I just wanted to sit down and discuss a new deal – I wanted to commit my career to the club I loved.

'Then out of the blue, Barcelona came in for me.

'And, suddenly, I was wanted by the biggest club in the world and they wanted to give me a five-year deal.'

I loved the club! Song said he would have signed a deal for life with the Gunners

I loved the club! Song said he would have signed a deal for life with the Gunners

Song added: 'I had been trying for eight months to start talking about a new long-term deal but the club kept postponing me all the time, saying “You have three years left”.

'I hadn't talked about money I just wanted to sit down and discuss a new deal – I wanted to commit my career to the club I loved.

'Then out of the blue, Barcelona came in for me. And, suddenly, I was wanted by the biggest club in the world and they wanted to give me a five-year deal.'

London 2012 Olympics: Lisa Dobriskey accuses 1500m rivals of cheating

Dobriskey hints at cheating by rivals in 1500m final after she finishes outside the medals

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UPDATED:

23:37 GMT, 10 August 2012

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Lisa Dobriskey appears to have accused the women who beat her in the 1500 metres at the Olympic Games of cheating.

‘I’ll probably get into trouble for saying this but I don’t believe I’m competing on a level playing field,’ said Dobriskey, the 2009 world silver medallist, on Radio 5 Live.

‘Of course I am uncomfortable about it. I am not pointing the finger at particular individuals, but that is how I feel. I think the blood passport is catching people but I think these Games came too soon. People will be caught eventually, I think. Fingers crossed anyway.’

Hitting out: Lisa Dobriskey made the accusations after the 1500m final

Hitting out: Lisa Dobriskey made the accusations after the 1500m final

Her moan is similar to the complaints Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe have made in past years. Six Russian middle-distance runners were banned from these Games only two weeks before they began.

Dobriskey may be right but it is certain she will be asked to explain herself and apologise even though the suspicion has been around for years. The world record for 1500m dates back to 1993 when the Chinese Qu Yunxia set it at 3min 50.46sec. No woman has run under 3:55 this century.

The occasion she chose to point the finger, though was bizarre. It was the slowest Olympic 1500m final in history, more than five seconds slower than the next slowest.
For the Turk Cakir Alptekin to win in 4:10.23 was to earn the cheapest gold of the Games. She ran five seconds faster in the semi-final.

The only drug that it seemed likely had been taken by any of these runners was a sedative. They put the 80,000 crowd to sleep with their pedestrian best.

In the hunt: Dobriskey managed to stick with the leading pack for the majority of the race

In the hunt: Dobriskey managed to stick with the leading pack for the majority of the race

It is hard to blame Dobriskey for not beating Alptekin, even though her career best is almost 11 seconds faster. Her pre-Olympic preparations have been one disaster after another — she got off to a false start last October when she needed surgery on her hip. In early March a vertical line stress fracture in her femur was discovered.

‘At that point we were panicking a bit,’ she admitted. Then in late May she was finding every training session hard to complete, and a hospital examination discovered a pulmonary embolism, blood clots on her lung. She could not run for more than five minutes at a time.

‘At the start of this year, before everything happened, I genuinely felt I had a chance of winning a medal in London and I just want to be the best I possibly can be,’ she said. Coming 10th in 4:13.02 is a long way from that.

Getting there first: Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey crosses the line to win gold ahead of silver medalist Gamze Bulut

Getting there first: Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey crosses the line to win gold ahead of silver medalist Gamze Bulut

Head coach Charles van Commenee cannot now reach the target of eight medals that he said would keep him in the job even if Mo Farah and the women’s 4x400m relay team win medals today.

The eighth day of athletics produced nothing to add to Great Britain’s five already won. Sophie Hitchon could not repeat her British record in the hammer that won her qualification for GB’s first ever final in the event. She finished last of the finalists in 12th with 69.33m, two metres down on qualifying.

Pole vaulter Steve Lewis cleared his opening height at 5.50m at the second attempt, skipped 5.65 and again managed 5.75 with his second effort.

He was one of six who managed it, and placed equal fourth at that time. But after failing at 5.85, which would have been a British record, he finished fifth equal in a competition won with an Olympic record of 5.97, by France’s Renaud Lavillenie.

In the medals: Third placed Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain celebrates with winner Asli Cakir Alptekin and second Gamze Bulut both of Turkey

In the medals: Third placed Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain celebrates with winner Asli Cakir Alptekin and second Gamze Bulut both of Turkey

The 5,000m offered little hope to the Britons who had qualified for the final, Jo Pavey and Julia Bleasdale. Their consolation in a slow race was to finish first of the non-Africans, Pavey seventh and Bleasdale eighth, the best of the Europeans.

Pavey led for a while but not after defending Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba injected pace with four laps left. Ultimately though, her hope of retaining her title disappeared in a last lap burn-up won by her team-mate Meseret Defar ahdead of Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot. Dibaba was third.

Defar had won gold in Athens and bronze in Beijing. ‘I’m not sure I can do a fourth, so this means a lot to me,’ she said.

London 2012 Olympics: Chinese on a long march to world domination

Chinese on a long march to world domination

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UPDATED:

22:01 GMT, 31 July 2012

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Yi Jianlian, a 7ft tall former NBA basketball player, carried the Chinese flag into the Olympics opening ceremony.

He was the eighth successive
representative of his sport to fulfil the flag-bearing role since China
sent their first full team to an Olympics, in Los Angeles in 1984. It is
the height that wins them the job, a symbol of how the world's most
populous nation wants to be seen standing tall in the world.

That march through the Olympic Stadium on
Friday night has continued unabated through these Games. So far they
have amassed 11 gold medals from diving, gymnastics, shooting, swimming
and weightlifting, six silver and three bronze.

Walking tall: Yi Jianlian leads China at the Opening Ceremony

Walking tall: Yi Jianlian leads China at
the Opening Ceremony

Attention has focused most specifically on the 16-year-old swimming phenomenon Ye Shiwen and how she swam the final 50 metres freestyle leg of her 400 individual medley race faster than Ryan Lochte managed in the men's equivalent just minutes earlier. It was a performance that caused her to deny accusations of drug taking.

She was supported by Lord Coe, chairman of the London Olympics. 'You have to be very careful jumping to the conclusion that a great breakthrough in sport is down to anything other than great coaching, hard work and formidable talent,' he said.

'The balance of judgment always has to be given to the athlete. I can think of times in my own career where I took big chunks of time off world records. I broke the record of Alberto Juantorena – one of the greatest 800m runners of all time – and I know people questioned that. People were saying nobody's run the first lap that fast, nobody's held on that well down the back straight.

'In 1979 my personal best was a smidgeon under 1:44. /07/31/article-2181807-144DFFD1000005DC-282_468x495.jpg” width=”468″ height=”495″ alt=”Big star: China's Yi Jianlian (left)” class=”blkBorder” />

Big star: China's Yi Jianlian (left)

Big star: Swimming sensation Ye Shiwen

Big star: Swimming sensation Ye Shiwen

Suspicions will linger about Ye but Coe is right that hard work is driving the whole Chinese machine, as well as limitless funding and a cultural structure that could not be applied in Britain.

China has what amounts to a national sports machine in the image of the old Eastern Bloc. Children as young as six are tested for their size, flexibility and skills. The sporty youngsters are then sent away to one of 3,000 schools and fed up the structure from local level to state, regional and national schools.

I stood in a table tennis hall at a school in central Beijing. There were rows of tables, minimally 100 in all. Earnest kids fine-tuned their skills. This focus is replicated in other sports. The likes of diving and gymnastics, with emphasis on suppleness and balance, are grouped together.

'Winning pride at the Olympics' was the name given to the project when Beijing won the right to stage the 2008 Games. So successful has it been that 28 years after the Chinese first entered as a proper delegation they are the strongest Olympic nation.

The medal table from Beijing told the story of their triumph: China won 51 gold medals, the USA 36. Some believed that the haul was a Chinese zenith, a one-off for a home Games.

All gold: Chinese gymnasts

All gold: Chinese gymnasts…

... and divers

… and divers

That appears not to be the case, judging by how the London Olympics have begun. China have yet to scale their Everest. They still have scope to improve in other sports over the next few years: track and field, rowing, sailing and swimming. They could also turn their attention to team sports, having not sought to prioritise those because the medal rewards are fewer. For example, women's football, a big deal to America, represents an inefficient investment with a return of one medal per squad of 18.

With a population of 1.3 billion, they can do what they like. It is essentially a numbers game.

Gold medalist: Siling Yi

Gold medalist: Siling Yi

Can anyone stop them American sport lives off sponsorship rather than government subsidy, so they must find ways to be smarter: better coaching and recruitment. They could also, like China, embrace sports they largely neglect: rowing (other than the eight, which they love), shooting, canoeing, shooting, table tennis, archery, badminton. Strangely, the American public, as opposed to their Olympic Association, are blind to the emergence of China dominance.

That is partly because the American convention is to present the medal table in order of medals won rather than first counting the number of golds. On that score, they triumphed in Beijing 110 to 100.

All the while, China are being shrewd in pouring money into women's sport because it is relatively poorly funded around the world. The majority of their Olympic team are women.

The objections to the Chinese model are obvious. They take children away from their families and factory-produce athletes.

The other side of that is that the chosen ones, usually poor, are fed and cared for. Some fame and some money is their reward for ultimate success.

Criticism of the Chinese juggernaut prompted defensive comments in the China Daily newspaper yesterday. 'Our athletes are not medal machines,' said one contributor.

'They are supposed to enjoy the Games and make people want to join in sport.

'People feel proud for them no matter what results they get as long as they did their best. No one is a failure in the Olympics.

'China used to use gold medals to prove we are a strong nation and gain respect from others. We don't need that any more.'

In truth, the Chinese model defies the ethos of sport as we know it in Britain. It is force feeding rather than fun. It is also, for now and the foreseeable future, the way to dominate the Olympic world.

London Olympics 2012: Ye shiwen: "I am not on any drugs"

'I swear I am not on any drugs': Ye hits back, saying critics are biased against China

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UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 31 July 2012

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Ye Shiwen has hit back at claims she is taking drugs, saying people making the accusations have an agenda against China.

Ye, 16, won her second gold medal of the Games with a sensational swim in the 200 metres individual medley and afterwards told a packed press conference afterwards that she has not taken drugs and feels she is being picked on.

Hitting back: Yi Shiwen poses with her second gold of the Games

Hitting back: Yi Shiwen poses with her second gold of the Games

‘They are biased,’ said Ye, who won the 400m individual medley title earlier in the week. ‘In other countries people have won multiple medals and people have said nothing. Why are they just criticising me I have absolutely not taken anything.’

Ye was impressive, keeping calm and forcing an occasional smile. She has been left to fight the doubters on her own, with no representative from the Chinese Swimming Association there. Support came from a Chinese journalist, who kept urging Ye to put across her side of the argument, and American bronze medallist Caitlin Leverenz.

On the charge: Ye picked up the women's 200m individual medley title

On the charge: Ye picked up the women's 200m individual medley title

‘It’s easy to point fingers but you can do that at any of the other racers,’ said Leverenz, who finished behind Ye and Australia’s Alicia Coutts. ‘She has proved that girls can go faster than the men. I want to congratulate Shiwen on what she has achieved.’

Ye added that she has always had a good physique and, after seeing fellow teenager Missy Franklin win two medals already, thinks young swimmers will continue to succeed.

‘The teacher in my kindergarten noticed I had a good physique so they picked me,’ she said. ‘I do well because of our training. It is two-and-a-half hours in the morning and the same in the afternoon. I’ve been doing it for nine years.

‘It’s very likely that swimmers will keep getting younger. There will be more people even more capable.’