In Brief

Sport shorts: banned Russia had ‘every opportunity to get its house in order’

Ten things from the world of sport on Monday 9 December

1. Russia gets four-year ban

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events - including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. 

Following a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Wada Executive Committee (ExCo) unanimously endorsed the recommendation made that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) be declared “non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code for a period of four years”.

The BBC reports that the Russian flag and anthem will not be allowed at Tokyo 2020 or the 2022 World Cup, but athletes will be able to compete under a neutral flag if they can prove they were not untainted by the doping scandal

Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said: “The decision shows Wada’s determination to act resolutely in the face of the Russian doping crisis.

“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of RUSADA’s reinstatement conditions, approved by the ExCo in September 2018, demanded a robust response. 

“That is exactly what has been delivered today. Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.

“As a result, the Wada ExCo has responded in the strongest possible terms, while protecting the rights of Russian athletes that can prove that they were not involved and did not benefit from these fraudulent acts.” 

2. Three Lions to face Italy 

England have confirmed a friendly fixture against Italy at Wembley Stadium on Friday 27 March as part of the nation’s preparations for Euro 2020. Ahead of the finals Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions also play Denmark at Wembley on 31 March, away in Austria on 2 June and home against Romania on 7 June. 

3. Ding wins UK Championship

Chinese snooker star Ding Junhui has secured his first ranking win since 2017 after beating Stephen Maguire 10-6 in last night’s UK Championship final. The 32-year-old said: “You have to keep believing. People stopped believing in me, but if I lose then nobody can help me.”

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4. England women beat Pakistan in ODI 

England women have taken a 1-0 lead in the one-day international (ODI) cricket series against Pakistan following a 75-run victory in Kuala Lumpur. Openers Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont starred with the bat with 110 and 107 respectively as England hit 284-6. Pakistan were bowled out for 209. The second match of the series takes place on Thursday. 

5. First title for teen golfer Højgaard 

Rasmus Højgaard became the third youngest winner in European Tour history with a dramatic play-off triumph at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. The 18-year-old Dane said: “This is a dream come true. It’s amazing. To be on the European Tour so early is a dream come true and to be a winner now, it’s incredible. I can’t put it into words. I’m looking forward to the next challenge.”

6. Barca worried by Messi retirement

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu admits he fears the day Lionel Messi retires from football. The Argentine star followed up his sixth Ballon d’Or award by scoring a hat-trick against Mallorca on Saturday.  

Bartomeu said: “I am worried about the day Messi retires. I would like him to sign another contract. He still has time ahead of him, we’ve spoken many times about it. He doesn’t have any problem with continuing at Barca. I have no doubt that he will play here until he retires, that he’s committed to the club. There are no doubts about him ending his career here and ending it when he wants.”

7. Pep not confident of title defence 

Pep Guardiola has all but given up on the Premier League title after his Manchester City side lost 2-1 at home to rivals Manchester United on Saturday. 

The Manchester derby defeat means the defending champions are third in the table, 14 points behind leaders Liverpool and six short of Leicester City. 

“It is not realistic to think about catching up,” said City boss Guardiola, when asked about overhauling Liverpool between now and May.

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8. Arteta still Arsenal’s No.1 target  

A new rival has emerged for Arsenal in their courting of Mikel Arteta - and it’s none other than Manchester City.

The former Gunners midfielder has been linked to the vacant manager’s position at the Emirates Stadium following the dismissal of Unai Emery last month. But now there is speculation that City may look to promote their assistant boss in the event of Pep Guardiola departing in the future.

Tonight Arsenal travel to West Ham for a Premier League London derby (8pm, live on Sky Sports). 

Arsenal look to Mikel Arteta as relegation zone threatens 

9. Everton linked with Emery

Sky Sports reports that ex-Arsenal boss Unai Emery has been approached by Everton about the vacant job at Goodison Park. Sky said: “An informal meeting was held in London and it is thought Emery wants more time to think about his next move following his dismissal as Arsenal head coach.”

10. Who next for AJ?

It’s less than 48 hours since he won back the world heavyweight belts but speculation has already begun on who Anthony Joshua will fight next

The Briton produced a boxing masterclass in his rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday evening to reclaim the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.

It’s reported that WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk, IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev and British rival Dillian Whyte are possible next opponents for the two-time world champion. 

Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, says Pulev is leading the race for the next fight, which could take place in April or May next year. 

Today’s back pages

London’s calling for Anthony Joshua and Leicester are in the hunt for the Premier League title

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