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NFL to become first in US to test for HGH

The National Football League (NFL) will become the first major US professional sports league to use blood testing for human growth hormone (HGH) as part of a new collective bargaining agreement ratified by players, a league spokesman said.

The bulk of the deal to end the NFL’s bitter labour dispute was agreed to last month, but certain elements still needed to be ironed out before the agreement was ratified.

“The goal is to begin testing for HGH the first week of the regular season,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. “Over the next several weeks, we will discuss and develop with the union the specific arrangements for the testing procedures.”

Ratification of the deal, which signals the official end to a labour dispute that locked out players for over four months, means players who signed new contracts can now practice for the first time this offseason.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed on July 25 to terms to end their dispute and have worked around the clock since Saturday to finalize the agreement.

HTC-Highroad to fold up at the end of season

HTC-Highroad, the team of top Tour de France sprinter Mark Cavendish, will fold at the end of the season after a deal with a potential new partner collapsed.

The US outfit have been cycling’s most successful team in the last three years, with 47 wins for the men and 46 for the women in 2011.

Team manager Bob Stapleton said a phone call dashed any hopes he had of keeping the team alive.

“We had seven different teams offering mergers and an agreement with a new partner looked to be in place,” Stapleton told a small group of reporters on Thursday.
“But the deal collapsed Sunday night when they called me during my wife’s 50th birthday party.

“We reached the conclusion that the best thing would be to release the managers, staff and athletes."

Hearts owner lashes out at ‘media monkeys’

Outspoken Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov has lashed out at the media following criticism over his sacking of manager Jim Jefferies after just two games of the Scottish season.

Jefferies was axed by the Lithuanian after a home defeat by Dundee United followed a creditable draw at champions Rangers on the opening day of the season. He was replaced by former Sporting Lisbon coach Paulo Sergio.

“Judging by the pre-planned squeals from the media monkeys, Hearts has hit the point with the move,” Romanov, who initially bought into Hearts in 2004, said on the club's website (www.heartsfc.co.uk) on Wednesday.

“I believe that with only one win in 15 games, only fools and idiots would not raise questions and suspicions.”

France drop Huget for doping control violations

Winger Yoann Huget has been dropped from the France World Cup squad for failing to meet doping control obligations, the French Rugby Federation said.

France, who are at a training camp preparing for next month’s World Cup, did not want to take any risks by keeping Huget in the squad.

He is accused of three breaches of the rules governing his whereabouts for doping checks.

The surprise announcement was made to reporters by French Rugby Federation President Pierre Camou. The World Cup will be held from Sept 9 to Oct 23 in New Zealand.

Williams chief wants even more races

Williams chairman Adam Parr has gone against the grain and declared he wants more races on the already packed Formula One calendar.

Several teams have said they are uncomfortable with the thought of a record 21 Grands Prix next year, although Turkey looks set to be dropped to bring the number down to 20, still a logistical and mental challenge for F1 participants.

However, Parr thinks shorter event weekends could open up space for other races as the sport continually expands to new markets with a first Indian Grand Prix due in October.

“The number of races can increase a little bit. We might have to look at the format of the weekend but we could do a couple more races,” Parr told reporters. “There are ways of increasing revenues.”  

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