A round-up of today's other stories in brief

Walsh and Egan against the removal of head protection

Neither Irish head coach, Billy Walsh nor Olympic silver medallist Kenny Egan, who has entered the senior championships this year, agree with the global ruling that headgear will be removed from Olympic boxing from March of this year.

Both were of the opinion it was a backwards step for the sport as boxers will now be susceptible to cuts during championships which may see them removed from the draw on medical grounds even if they have not lost a fight.

“I was part of the era when they (head guards) came in at the ’88 Olympics on medical grounds,” said Walsh. “I think this is a move in the wrong direction. To get through five fights in a week without a cut, we are going to need a lot of luck.”

Egan, who has won 10 consecutive national senior titles said: “I wouldn’t be a fan of it. How are you going to get through the week if you are at the Europeans or the World Championships? It’s going to be hard on the body.”

Head protection will remain in place for junior and female boxers.


Denmark's Rasmussen admits to a decade of doping

CYCLING:Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen admitted yesterday to more than a decade of doping after making a tell-all deal with anti-doping authorities.

The 38-year-old said in a televised news conference that he took performance-enhancing drugs between 1998 and 2010, both before and after he served a suspension for evading doping controls.

"I have cheated and lied. I'm ready to make good and take my punishment. I'm glad that I no longer have to lie to you, as I have done for so long," said Rasmussen, adding that he was quitting cycling immediately.

In a deal with Danish, American and Dutch anti-doping authorities, as well as world anti-doping agency Wada, Rasmussen agreed to confess everything about his experiences with doping, including naming other guilty riders.

Rasmussen admitted to using EPO, insulin, growth hormones, cortisone and other drugs as well as getting blood transfusions.

In 2007 he was kicked off the Tour de France by his team while leading the overall standings for lying about his whereabouts - information required under anti-doping regulations. He served a two-year suspension between 2007 and 2009.

Japanese head coach to resign in controversy

Japanese women’s Judo coach Ryuji Sonoda said he would resign after the country’s sports minister called for a fresh inquiry into accusations of physical abuse against female judokas.

Local media reported 15 athletes had sent a joint letter of complaint to the Japanese Olympic Council (JOC) after claiming they had been subjected to harassment and violence by head coach Sonoda and his staff in the build up to the 2012 London Games.

The athletes complained of being slapped, shoved and beaten with bamboo.

“It will be difficult for me to go any further with the training of the team,” Sonoda told reporters in Tokyo as he prepared to submit his resignation to the All Japan Judo Federation (AJJF).

“I deeply regret that my behaviour, words and actions have caused trouble. I thought that I would be able to maintain a trusting relationship , but that was my one-sided approach.”

The AJJF reprimanded Sonoda, who won gold at the 1993 world championships, and his staff on Wednesday, but the minister asked for further investigations yesterday. With Tokyo shortlisted to host the 2020 Olympics, the Japanese bid team will be keen to avoid any negative publicity in the run up to September’s vote.

Espersen sets out to rebuild coaching roles

ROWING:A new chapter in Irish rowing begins today when Morten Espersen takes up the post of high-performance director. Espersen, who played a big part in building the system in Denmark which has yielded multiple Olympic medals, has to throw himself quickly into building a coaching structure, but he is expecting to succeed: “I’m 100 per cent sure it will go well.”

Ireland lead coach Adrian Cassidy is stepping down and the post has been advertised. There have been 43 applications from home and abroad, and Espersen went to Norway on Wednesday to review them with international coach Thor Nilsen, who oversaw Irish rowing for years and continues to have a strong interest.

Other coaching roles have been advertised, but how many more will be appointed is dependent on funding, which Espersen is certain will be set in place by the end of the month. He is open to the idea of regional coaches, and this should go down well with club coaches who feel the effective sequestering of top athletes at the National Rowing Centre in Cork in the last Olympiad was a bad idea.

The domestic scene is set to get a big lift off tomorrow with the St Michael’s Head of the River at O’Brien’s Bridge. It has a big entry, particularly of eights.


Ireland have the edge over Estonia in Group Two tie

: Ireland kick off against Estonia in Riverview this afternoon in their first Davis Cup tie of 2013 in the Euro-African Group Two division. James McGee leads the team in the opening match which begins at 4pm.

The Irish number one faces Jaan Kononov before Sam Barry faces Vladimir Ivanov in the second singles match. The doubles take place tomorrow when James Cluskey and Colin O’Brien meet the Estonian pair of Ivanov and Marek Marksoo.

Last time out Ireland won the decisive fifth rubber on a Monday after rain had interrupted their tie against Egypt. Wimbledon and US Open qualifier Conor Niland lost his opening rubber in that one and was later forced to retire from tennis due to a persistent injury. However McGee rose to the challenge winning his singles and with Barry also won the doubles.

The home advantage and the higher rankings give Ireland a distinct advantage. Mc Gee is the highest placed player in the draw at 342 in the singles with Barry at 604. Estonia’s best player, Ivanov, is 451 and Kononov has no world singles ranking.

DAVIS CUP (at Riverview): Day One – J McGee (Ire) v J Kononov (Est), 4pm; S Barry (Ire) v V Ivanov (Est) to follow.


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