Tag Archives: statement

Australia set down Ashes marker… but should England be worried?

Awesome Aussies set down Ashes marker… but should England be worried

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UPDATED:

11:32 GMT, 28 December 2012

There's no getting round the fact: the second Test between Australia and Sri Lanka at Melbourne was not so much a game of cricket as a demolition job.

Australia won inside three days by an innings and 201 runs, while Kumar Sangakkara had his left hand broken by Mitchell Johnson and two other Sri Lankans stayed in the pavilion, absent hurt.

With back-to-back Ashes series lying in wait in 2013, this result was what you might reasonably call a statement of intent.

Star man: Mitchell Johnson (centre) was in fine form as Australia hammered Sri Lanka in the second Test

Star man: Mitchell Johnson (centre) was in fine form as Australia hammered Sri Lanka in the second Test

But how concerned should England be After all, the Sri Lankans have always been poor in Australia: this was their 10th defeat there in 12 Tests, four of them by an innings.

And Australian pitches could not be further removed from the slow heart-breakers routinely found in Sri Lanka.

Alastair Cook may also comfort himself with the thought that, more than anything, the MCG appears to have hosted the rebirth of Johnson, who returned match figures of 6 for 89 and hit an unbeaten 92.

If anything was designed to dispel the post-Christmas blues in soggy England, it is the thought that Johnson – a figure of fun during the 2010-11 Ashes – will be taking the field at Trent Bridge on July 10. The Barmy Army will be exercising their vocal chords.

Take that: Johnson punished the Sri Lankans with the bat as well as the ball in Melbourne

Take that: Johnson punished the Sri Lankans with the bat as well as the ball in Melbourne

The success on Test debut of Sydneysider Jackson Bird may be more significant, for Australia are compiling a stock of apparently interchangeable seam bowlers – the must-have accessory for any team aspiring to regular success in the fixture-heavy modern era.

Their problem, though, is fitness: everyone keeps breaking down.

As things stand, it is fairly pointless trying to predict which of their seamers will play at Nottingham. As for their batting, Michael Clarke remains in the form of his life, with Mike Hussey not far behind.

England's best hope here is that the law of averages kicks in, as it has done for every batsman in Test history bar Don Bradman.

Solid start: Jackson Bird can be happy with his Test debut for Australia

Solid start: Jackson Bird can be happy with his Test debut for Australia

And, although there were half-centuries at Melbourne for David Warner and Shane Watson, England will also be quietly confident about getting the better of Australia's top four.

Warner and Phil Hughes, who is being rehabilitated at No 3, may be too keen to play their shots to prosper regularly in English conditions, while Ed Cowan looks no better than steady, and Watson is yet to demonstrate he has the capacity for big hundreds required at No 4.

Having said all that, Australia are now 2-0 up with one to play against a team England beat only 1-0 at home in 2011, then lost to at Galle earlier this year.

And yet a better gauge of where the two Ashes sides are will be Australia's four-Test series in India, starting in February.

England are still luxuriating in their 2-1 win. The pressure will be on Clarke's side to match them.

Joey Barton: Marseille can beat PSG and Lyon to Ligue 1 title

Barton sets sights on French glory by insisting Marseille can beat PSG and Lyon to title

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UPDATED:

11:14 GMT, 26 December 2012

Joey Barton has said Marseille are good enough to lift the league title in France this season.

The club are third in Ligue 1 behind leaders PSG and second-placed Lyon but are level on points, and the former QPR man has pledged that he will do everything he can to make it happen.

'What is important is that we have a good rest, because the second half of the season will be tough,’ he told La Provence.

Battling: Barton is determined to win the Ligue 1 title

Battling: Barton is determined to win the Ligue 1 title

He also promised manager Elie Baup would be busy this transfer window.

‘Some players will be arriving and we will do everything we can to be champions.’

This statement of intent, however, is on hold because, for the first time in 10 years, Barton will put his feet up this Boxing Day.

Taking it easy: Barton is undertaking his first winter break

Taking it easy: Barton is undertaking his first winter break

The 30-year old has lauded the easy-going French lifestyle, but taking a two-week rest over Christmas – before Ligue 1 resumes on January 11 – is among one of its bigger attractions.

Cricket match-fixing: Sussex confirm 2011 approach

Sussex confirm their own players rejected bribe to fix CB40 match in 2011

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UPDATED:

01:13 GMT, 18 November 2012

Sussex have confirmed their players were offered money to fix a televised Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Kent in 2011.

The county carried out an internal investigation after several players were approached by phone, but found no evidence of wrongdoing and immediately reported their findings to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

In a fix: Sussex, who play at the County Ground, Hove, have revealed their players rejected an approach to fix a match back in 2011

In a fix: Sussex, who play at the County Ground, Hove, have revealed their players rejected an approach to fix a match back in 2011

Sussex chief executive Dave Brookes said: ‘The players were approached via phone. They turned down the approach, contacted the club and informed us of it. It’s not something I’ve come across at Sussex in my time and we’ve had no reports since either.’

Kent beat Sussex by 14 runs in the game at Hove, which was televised live.

A Sussex statement added: ‘In conjunction with the ICC (International Cricket Council), a full investigation was undertaken with nothing untoward coming to light, and the club’s prompt action receiving praise.’

Essex pace bowler Mervyn Westfield was jailed for four months in February this year after admitting a corruption charge relating to a 2009 game against Durham in the same domestic competition.

India v England: Graeme Swann hits back after Virender Sehwag century

Swann haul keeps England clinging on to India's coat-tails after Sehwag blasts run-a-ball century to get hosts off to a flyer

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UPDATED:

11:37 GMT, 15 November 2012

India v England pictures

We are unable to carry live pictures from the First Test in Ahmedabad due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Graeme Swann claimed a coveted piece of cricket history as he helped to claw England back into the reckoning after Virender Sehwag's destructive hundred in the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

Sehwag (117) began the four-match series with a memorable statement of intent for India, only for Swann to hit back with four wickets – the second of which took him past the great Jim Laker as England's most successful off-spinner.

Thanks to Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara (98 not out), India nonetheless finished in the ascendancy on 323 for four after a day when England did not always help themselves – putting down two catches and missing two other obvious opportunities to effect dismissals.

Spin king: Graeme Swann celebrates one of his four wickets on day one of the first Test at Ahmedabad

Spin king: Graeme Swann celebrates one of his four wickets on day one of the first Test at Ahmedabad

Sehwag dominated a century opening stand with Gautam Gambhir, and was then joined by Pujara for another partnership of 90 for the second wicket.

There was little cheer at that point for the tourists, after losing the toss on a pitch likely to increasingly favour spin.

India v England

Click here to see the full scorecard

Follow how the day's play unfolded here

Sehwag wasted no time in grasping an ominous initiative at the very start of the series.

On an especially slow surface, he made a nonsense of his last experience against England – two golden ducks at Edgbaston, in India's 4-0 defeat last year.

As if to encapsulate the difference 4,000 miles can make, back on home ground he seized mercilessly on any off-side width and angled runs expertly into gaps in a run-a-ball innings. The first hour gave England precious little encouragement; the second surely a chastening sense already of their undertaking as new captain Alastair Cook tries to lead his country to a first series win in India since the winter he was born.

What a start: Indian opener Virender Sehwag celebrates his hundred in Ahmedabad

What a start: Indian opener Virender Sehwag celebrates his hundred in Ahmedabad

On the attack: Sehwag blasts the ball to the boundary during his blistering innings

On the attack: Sehwag blasts the ball to the boundary during his blistering innings

The Indian openers were quickly in
cruise control, before Sehwag upped the ante – and by the first ball of
the 20th over, the total was already in three figures.

Sehwag
dispatched Tim Bresnan, on for James Anderson after eight overs, for
four, four and six in successive balls – past cover, wide of mid on and
back over his head – forcing Cook into more changes.

Early afternoon brought three let-offs for India, two of them costly.

Matt Prior dropped Sehwag on 80, down the leg side off Anderson, and in the next over missed a stumping chance when Gambhir overbalanced against Swann (four for 85).

The left-handed opener did not add to his score before Swann got one to skid on and bowl him on the back foot to end a stand of 134.

Big wicket: Indian hero Sachin Tendulkar reacts after holing out in the deep to Samit Patel (below)

Big wicket: Indian hero Sachin Tendulkar reacts after holing out in the deep to Samit Patel (below)

Big wicket: Indian hero Sachin Tendulkar reacts after holing out in the deep to Samit Patel (below)

But Sehwag soon reached three figures,
from 90 balls, with a 15th four lofted over mid on off Swann to go with
his six – his first hundred for almost exactly two years, against New
Zealand on this same ground.

Pujara was not dropped but nonetheless had fortune, and an England slip, on his side on eight when Anderson overcommitted himself at mid on and could not then reach a leading edge off Bresnan.

The No 3, who had given England a preview of his capabilities with an innings of 87 against them for Mumbai A two weeks ago, is not prone to making a second mistake on the same day.

So it was that he soon had a look of risk-free permanence.

/11/15/article-2233267-1609BF2C000005DC-818_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”Unbeaten: A half-century from Cheteshwar Pujara helped India edge toward a strong first innings total ” class=”blkBorder” />

Unbeaten: A half-century from Cheteshwar Pujara helped India edge toward a strong first innings total

First it brought Sachin Tendulkar to the crease, to the obligatory delight of the crowd.

But the veteran master batsman did not last long, holing out in the leg-side deep off Swann – who took two wickets for 11 runs in a four-over spell just before tea.

Afterwards, he continued to make progress slow for the hosts, Virat Kohli needing 30 balls to get off the mark – with a straight-driven four off Stuart Broad – and then dropped at slip on five by Jonathan Trott via a faulty cut at Swann.

After just four runs had come from seven overs immediately after tea, Kohli was undone by Swann anyway – bowled through the gate by a perfectly-pitched off break.

Pujara, meanwhile, was going nowhere fast.

After a 67-ball half-century, he ground to a near halt in the 80s – and the final session brought only 73 runs.

His longevity continued, however, and persuaded England to give Swann a break and their pace attack a second chance with a new ball – to no avail by stumps.

Andy Murray beats Tomas Berdych at ATP Tour Finals

Murray off to a flyer as US Open champion beats Berdych in ATP Tour Finals opener

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UPDATED:

17:31 GMT, 5 November 2012

Andy Murray was victorious in his first match on home soil as a grand slam champion as he fought back from a set down to defeat Tomas Berdych at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

With Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also in his round-robin group at London's O2 Arena, defeat in his opening match would have left the US Open champion with an uphill task to qualify for the semi-finals.

And it did not look good for the Murray when he dropped the opening set but the current world number three finally took a break point at the 11th time of asking early in the second and from there he kept Berdych at arm's length to win 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Take that: Andy Murray fires a return back at Tomas Berdych in their opening clash at the ATP Tour Finals

Take that: Andy Murray fires a return back at Tomas Berdych in their opening clash at the ATP Tour Finals

Serving up a treat: Murray and Berdych battled it out over three sets at the O2 in London

Serving up a treat: Murray and Berdych battled it out over three sets at the O2 in London

Czech this out: Berdych sends a serve down to Murray

Czech this out: Berdych sends a serve down to Murray

It was Murray's first match in the UK
since the heady days of summer when he banished his Centre Court demons
by winning Olympic gold.

He followed that, of course, by ending
his long wait for a grand slam title in New York and he was roared onto
court under the lights of the vast arena.

The opening singles clash of the
tournament was a repeat of the US Open semi-final, which Murray won in
extremely windy conditions, but he does not have a particularly good
record against big-hitting Berdych and was looking to square their
head-to-head at 4-4.

The home favourite, for that is
certainly what he is now, began with a statement of intent as he powered
away a backhand winner but the chance to break went begging, and it was
the same story in the fifth game.

Murray was then made to pay when
Berdych took his chance and the Czech saved his sixth and seventh break
points of the set to clinch it when his opponent went long.

Response: Murray fought back on home soil to dismiss Berdych

Response: Murray fought back on home soil to dismiss Berdych

Murray played only one match at the
eight-man end-of-season tournament last year, losing to David Ferrer
before pulling out injured.

This year he sounded determined to put
on a good show for the home fans but Berdych had not read the script
and Murray was under pressure in the third game of the second set, which
would prove to be the turning point.

Three times he saved break point and
in the next game he finally made the breakthrough despite Berdych
clawing his way back from 0-40 for the second time in the match.

It was Murray's 11th break point, and
he made sure he did not waste his hard-won advantage, taking his first
set point when Berdych drilled a backhand wide.

More like it: Although Murray took a while to get going, he eventually got into his stride

More like it: Although Murray took a while to get going, he eventually got into his stride

Home faithful: Murray's mother, Judy, and girlfriend Kim Sears (right) showed their support for Andy in the O2 Arena

Home faithful: Murray's mother, Judy, and girlfriend Kim Sears (right) showed their support for Andy in the O2 Arena

The sizeable crowd had been a little
subdued but they roared when the Scot brought up two more break points
in the third game of the decider, and again when Berdych put a forehand
just wide.

Coach Ivan Lendl was back in Murray's
box for the first time since the US Open and he would have been pleased
with the way his charge had turned things around.

The 25-year-old has developed an
unwelcome habit since the US Open of losing matches in which he has held
match point, doing so in all three tournaments he has played following
his New York triumph.

And he betrayed a few nerves with a
double fault on his first chance here but on the second Berdych netted a
backhand, leaving Murray to roar with delight as the fans acclaimed
their man.

Almost: Murray peers over the net during the match

Almost: Murray peers over the net during the match

Marouane Fellaini is unplayable for Everton

Everton's mile high midfield genius Fellaini can be unplayable

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 4 November 2012

At 6ft 4in in his bare feet, not counting the hair, it would be easy to describe Marouane Fellaini as a target man and stop there.

Simplistic enough for Steven Gerrard possibly — how the Liverpool captain must be rueing the moment he opened his mouth and likened the neighbours to Stoke.

Fellaini’s jaw-dropping performance in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Fulham reinforced the view that the Everton attacking midfielder is, indeed, pretty good in the air.

Imposing: Marouane Fellaini stamped his authority on the game

Imposing: Marouane Fellaini stamped his authority on the game

Add to that a dynamo constitution, an eye for a goal, an ability to link and a masterful delivery of crosses and it is hardly surprising that team-mate Phil Jagielka described the Belgian as ‘unplayable’.

As well as the seven miles which Fellaini covered at Craven Cottage, the player scored twice to spare the embarrassment of the sadly out-of-sorts Nikica Jelavic.

The first came from a passing move while the second was, admittedly, from a long diagonal ball punted forward but dispatched with quality.

‘It’s not just a case of chucking him up there to collect long balls, he’s a really good footballer,’ said Jagielka.

‘Felli had an OK first half but in the second half he was as good as he has been. He was near enough unplayable. I’m sure for Felli’s goal people will have a laugh and a joke, but we put a lot of passes together and had a lot of possession. We created a lot of chances through neat interchanges.

‘We’ve got footballers that can play and we’ve got people who can hold the football and be physical as well.’

Manager David Moyes has made a statement of intent this season in terms of challenging the top four and, to do that, he needs to keep Fellaini fit and firing.

Lost his touch: Nikica Jelavic is off the boil

Lost his touch: Nikica Jelavic is off the boil

Then there is Jelavic. Last year, every touch seemed to finish with a goal but the Croat is missing easy chances, which helps explain why Everton have drawn four successive matches.

Moyes insists he will stick with the striker and, thanks to Fellaini, he can afford the luxury of being patient.

Rio Ferdinand leads Federation of Black Players breakaway group

EXCLUSIVE: Rebel Ferdinand setting up breakaway Federation of Black Players union to fight racism

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UPDATED:

06:41 GMT, 23 October 2012

Rio Ferdinand is planning to revolutionise English football with the launch of a breakaway union to protect the interests of black footballers.

Ferdinand, who refused to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt before Manchester United’s clash against Stoke on Saturday, has already joined other high-profile black players in overseeing the first draft of a constitution.

The United defender and his colleagues want to tackle discrimination in all forms and will hold a series of meetings in London over the next few weeks.

Tough stance: Rio Ferdinand is fighting for change

Tough stance: Rio Ferdinand is fighting for change

All smiles: Rio Ferdinand (left) is believed to have reconciled his differences with Sir Alex Ferguson

All smiles: Rio Ferdinand (left) is believed to have reconciled his differences with Sir Alex Ferguson

The union — which has a working name of The Federation of Black Players but will be open to players from all ethnic backgrounds who share a desire to combat racism in English football — will be self-funded by professionals at every level.

The union’s mission statement is expected to honour the achievements of black footballers and promote unity within the sport at every level, from players to spectators.

The idea, which has been conceived by Ferdinand, is already gathering momentum among black players and has received widespread support.

It will be the first of its kind in this country, but there is a long-established Black Baseball Players Association in the United States.

Ferdinand wants to protect the interests of the current generation of black players and is eager, for instance, to defend the rights of the young players caught up in last week’s traumatic events that marred the England Under 21 game in Serbia.

Although every professional player is entitled to PFA representation, the new union is unlikely to be affiliated with the official body. That does, however, remain up for discussion, with meetings with the PFA still planned.

Snub: Ferdinand refused to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt before Manchester United's game against Stoke

Snub: Ferdinand refused to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt before Manchester United's game against Stoke

But there is a feeling that it should be independent when one of the issues a number of black players have with the Kick It Out campaign is the fact that it is funded by the Football Association.

There is a good chance Ferdinand would be nominated as the union’s first chairman, although a number of current and retired black players will be invited to occupy executive positions.

The group have been working on a draft constitution for several weeks and, according to sources, the concept is already at the ‘advanced planning stage’.

Ferdinand’s relationship with Kick It Out appears to be badly fractured after he was criticised by the pressure group’s chairman, Lord Ouseley, on Monday.

Lord Ouseley repeated his claims that black, multi- millionaire footballers are over-reacting. He said: ‘Would Rio tell England where to stick their shirt if picked or does he think the FA has done enough to tackle racism

‘Will he tell Manchester United where to stick their shirt and 150,000 a week or have they done enough to tackle racism

Anton Ferdinand did not wear the T-shirt

Jason Roberts did not wear the T-shirt

Not for me: Anton Ferdinand (left) and Jason Roberts were among other players not to wear the T-shirt

‘Should we tell women not to support women against rape groups because they have not done enough to stop rape’

Despite Kick It Out’s unwavering support for Anton Ferdinand and his family during his high-profile court case with John Terry, some players refused to support the campaign at the weekend.’

On Monday, Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Sportsmail’s story revealing that peace talks had taken place between the United manager and his player on Sunday.

After his initial fury over the stance Ferdinand took in refusing to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt he said the situation had been ‘resolved’.

Ferdinand incurred Ferguson’s wrath after refusing to wear a shirt with the message ‘one game one community’ at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Brother Anton, along with a number of Queens Park Rangers and Everton players, also refused to support the initiative before Sunday’s Barclays Premier League clash at Loftus Road.

Refusal: Joleon Lescott has not worn the T-shirt for a number of years in protest

Refusal: Joleon Lescott has not worn the T-shirt for a number of years in protest

Reading striker Jason Roberts, who refused to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt at Anfield on Saturday, is expected to be a significant voice in the new movement.

He was due to attend a Show Racism the Red Card initiative at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday but the organisation said he is unlikely to do so.

Roberts, who condemned the Kick It Out campaign last week, has already written to the FA with his observations. The Reading striker has raised a number of issues over the FA’s approach to tackling racism.

Lord Ouseley also criticised the FA, who are a funding partner for Kick It Out, during a series of interviews on Monday.

He said: ‘You have to question the FA because we have not heard from them. Why have we not heard from the governing and regulatory body for the game’

Danny Rose is lying to whom? Serbian FA appear to release doctored video of U21 game

'Danny Rose is lying to whom' Serbian FA appear to release doctored video of U21 game

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UPDATED:

21:07 GMT, 18 October 2012

The Serbian Football Association seems to have published a video on their YouTube channel challenging Danny Rose's claims that he was a victim of monkey chanting in every time he touched the ball during England Under 21s 1-0 victory in Krusevac on Tuesday.

A day after releasing an astonishing statement which accused Rose of behaving
in an 'inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner' towards
supporters after being sent off after the final whistle, the Serbian FA released a six-minute video clip entitled: “Danny Rose is lying to whom”

Watch the astonishing video here

Posted by 'Fudbalski savez Srbije', which appears to be the legitimate channel of the Serbian FA, the video contains a montage of Rose in action in the play-off, but without audible monkey chants.

'As you can see in this video, during the Uefa Under-21 play-off game, there was no unsportsmanlike cheering and insulting opposing players on racial grounds,' reads a caption alongside the video, which was brought to the attention of Sportsmail by www.101greatgoals.com.

But whistling is to be heard at points and Rose makes a gesture towards the crowd, as if he has been the subject of abuse.

Livid: Danny Rose argues with Milos Ninkovic after the final whistle

Livid: Danny Rose argues with Milos Ninkovic after the final whistle

The video is also edited before the unsavoury climax of the match, which sparked a mass melee between players and coaching staff from both sides.

Rose was inconsolable following the Euro 2013 play-off after being exposed to a torrent of racism – as well as being pelted with missiles – by Serbian thugs for 90 minutes.

'Every time I touched the ball, they [the Serbia fans] were doing the monkey chanting again,' he said on Wednesday. 'I think they have to be banned. I think it is right. I don't understand how else they can learn from it. They have to be banned.'

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.'

Lance Armstrong in Nike adverts denying drugs

'What are you on' The astonishing Nike adverts in which drug cheat Armstrong took on the world

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UPDATED:

13:26 GMT, 11 October 2012

This is my body and I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it and study it, tweak it, listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I am on. What am I on I’m on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on

Those words are spoken by Lance Armstrong in a TV advert for Nike that was first aired back in 2001.

Upon release, it was considered strong stuff – but over a decade on, it delivers a much more stunning blow.

With hindsight, it is a quite astonishing statement and question from an athlete who would later be outed as a drugs cheat.

Nike put together the commercial after Armstrong was accused of using drugs to win the Tour de France.

Armstrong is filmed with a needle in his arm during a drugs test, with the seven-time Tour winner stating that he 'can do whatever he wants to it (his body)'.

He is shown during training wearing the uniform of the US Postal team – who ran the most 'sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.'

The advert ends with Armstrong almost accusing the doubters of using drugs by saying: 'Everybody wants to know what I am on. What am I on I’m on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on'

Viewers can now rightly turn the question back on the disgraced American.

In another advert released in 2009 titled Driven, Armstrong is filmed cycling up – footage that is interspersed with clips of cancer patients.

Again, Armstrong's voiceover drills home his message: 'The critics says I’m arrogant, a doper and washed up, a fraud. That I couldn’t let it go. They can say whatever they want. I’m not back on my bike for them.'

Nike are refusing to cut their ties with Armstrong despite his role as ringleader in the scandal that has rocked cycling.

Despite the mounting backlash against the one-time icon, Armstrong's main sponsor continue to back him.

After the latest revelations emerged, Nike re-released the same statement first issued in August. It reads: 'We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted.

'Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors.'