Sports Extra

Cycling

Belgian doctor implicated in Rabobank doping ring

AMSTERDAM – A Dutch newspaper claimed a team doctor with the former Rabobank cycling team played a central role in doping by its riders.

The Belgian doctor, Geert Leinders, denies any involvement. The report in the NRC Handelsblad is based on statements by American rider Levi Leipheimer – a Rabobank cyclist from 2002 to 2004 – given as part of his testimony to the United States Anti-Doping Agency during its Lance Armstrong investigation.

Although that testimony already has been published, NRC said in a story published Saturday it gained access to a version that identifies Leinders, whose identity previously had been withheld.

Rabobank ended its sponsorship of the team shortly after the publication of the Armstrong report, saying its trust in the sport has been destroyed.

WADA suspends Spanish lab for doping examinations

MADRID – The World Anti-Doping Agency suspended Spain’s accredited lab in Madrid from carrying out doping tests for three months. The suspension comes weeks before Madrid submits its final bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

WADA said Friday the lab may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 21 days. The Montreal-based agency said the lab failed to meet requirements but did not elaborate.

Spain’s Anti-Doping Agency cited a mix-up of two urine samples in August. It said in a statement one sample was “contaminated by a sample from a different athlete that contained a high concentration of a banned substance.”

The statement said no athlete incorrectly was accused of doping, and the lab’s head of quality control resigned after the suspension.

NHL

Players largely vote in favor to dissolve their union

NEW YORK – NHL players gave the executive board the right to take steps to dissolve the union, and they signed off on it in overwhelming fashion.

In a vote this week, union members decisively agreed to give the players’ association’s board the power to file a “disclaimer of interest” until Jan. 2. A person familiar with the outcome of the vote told The Associated Press on Friday the measure was approved by a vote of 706-22 (97 percent), easily reaching the two-thirds majority required.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the results of the vote hadn’t been announced.

The executive board hasn’t made plans yet to meet to discuss whether to file the disclaimer, but if the Jan. 2 deadline passes, another authorization vote could be held to approve a later filing.

If the filing is made, the union would dissolve and become a trade association. That would allow players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL.

Negotiations between the NHL and the union have been at a standstill since talks ended Dec. 6. No bargaining is scheduled, and time is running short to save the season. All games through Jan. 14 have been canceled, more than half the season. The New Year’s Day Winter Classic and All-Star game already are victims of the lockout, which reached 98 days Saturday.

Tennis

Zvonareva, a one-time No. 2, withdraws from Down Under

MELBOURNE, Australia – Vera Zvonareva withdrew from the Australian Open in January with a right shoulder injury.

The two-time Grand Slam runner-up made the announcement on her Facebook page Friday, saying “I will not be able to go to Australia this year ... my body is not 100 percent recovered.”

The Russian also missed the U.S. Open this year because of a viral illness and the French Open with the same shoulder injury.

Ranked as high as No. 2 but now 49th, Zvonareva lost the 2010 Wimbledon final to Serena Williams and that year’s U.S. Open final to Kim Clijsters.

The Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year, will begin in Melbourne on Jan. 14.

Associated Press