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Wednesday's Sports In Brief

Wednesday's Sports In Brief

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic acknowledged his Australian travel declaration form contained incorrect information, and he also confessed to an “error of judgment” in taking part in an interview and photo shoot in Serbia last month after testing positive for COVID-19.

In a statement posted to his social media accounts, the tennis star blamed “human error” by his support team for failing to declare that he had traveled in the two-week period before entering Australia.

Giving false information on the form could be grounds for deportation, the latest twist in a saga over whether the athlete should be allowed stay in Australia despite not being vaccinated. The initial news that Djokovic was granted an exemption to strict vaccination rules to enter the country provoked an outcry and the ensuing dispute has since overshadowed the lead-up to the Australian Open.

Djokovic acknowledged the lapses when he sought to clarify what he called “continuing misinformation” about his movements after he became infected last month — though he did not spell out what inaccuracies he was referring to.

The nine-time and defending Australian Open champion remains in limbo before the year’s first tennis major starts Monday.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Duke labored through two games with shaky shooting and turnover-prone play since returning from a COVID-19 outbreak.

This time the eighth-ranked Blue Devils got their offense rolling behind a blossoming freshman and an opportunistic defense — all without Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski on the sideline.

Paolo Banchero had 24 points and Duke hit 13 straight shots spanning halftime to blow it open and beat Wake Forest 76-64, turning in its best stretch of play since returning from a stoppage that included two postponed games.

Fellow freshman A.J. Griffin had a season-high 22 points in his first start, the next steps in his growth after missing the majority of the past two seasons in high school due to injury. That helped the Blue Devils bounce back from a weekend home loss to Miami, along with securing a win while Krzyzewski was out with what the school called a “non-COVID-related virus.”

NBA

CHICAGO (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 27 points, James Harden added 25 points and a season-high 16 assists, and the Brooklyn Nets rolled to an easy win over Chicago, beating the Bulls 138-112 in a matchup between the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.

Durant had 17 points in the third. The second-place Nets outscored East-leading Chicago by 20 in the quarter to silence a raucous crowd and came away with the win with all three superstars in the lineup for just the second time.

Kyrie Irving scored nine in his third game. The seven-time All-Star has refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and is barred from suiting up in New York due to the city’s mandate.

NFL

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An extra week of games, close finishes and a non-election year helped propel the NFL to its highest regular-season ratings in six years.

The 272 regular-season games averaged 17.1 million viewers across television and digital platforms, that is a 10% increase over 2020 and is the league’s highest average since 2015.

It was expected that the audience would increase after the 2020 season was played in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, with empty stadiums presenting a strange viewing dynamic, and many people’s viewing habits changing. The first half of that season also occurred in the midst of a presidential campaign, when many were watching cable news channels.

Three of the five television packages experienced double-digit growth. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” and the “Thursday Night Football” package on Fox, NFL Network and Amazon Prime were both up 16% from last season, followed by NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” at 11%.

This was also the first season when the league played 17 regular-season games. Despite the extra games, there were not many blowouts. According to the league, 64% of all games this season were within one score in the fourth quarter.

BASEBALL

CHICAGO (AP) — Jon Lester, a durable left-hander who won three World Series titles during 16 years in the majors, has announced his retirement.

Lester, who turned 38 on Friday, finishes with a 200-117 record and a 3.66 ERA in 452 career games, including 451 starts. He also has been a reliable postseason performer, compiling a 2.51 ERA in 26 appearances.

The 6-foot-4 Lester helped Boston win the championship in 2007 and 2013, and led the Chicago Cubs to the title in 2016. The championship for the Cubs was the franchise’s first since 1908.

OLYMPICS

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. prosecutors charged a Texas man with providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes competing in last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, including the star Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare.

Eric Lira, 41, of El Paso, is the first person to be charged under a new U.S. anti-doping law governing international sports competitions.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said Lira distributed the drugs, including human growth hormone and erythropoietin, a blood-building hormone, “for the purpose of corrupting” the 2020 Games, which were held in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lira also is accused of conspiring to violate drug misbranding and adulteration laws. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

The criminal complaint identifies Okagbare only as “athlete 1,” but it includes details, including her performances in specific races, that make it clear she was one of Lira’s clients. A text message was sent to Okagbare seeking comment.

Okagbare had been provisionally suspended for testing positive for human growth hormone in July 2021 — in an out-of-competition test — just hours before the former world championships silver medalist was due to run in the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters at the Olympics.


Updated : 2022-01-18 03:25 GMT+08:00

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