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Friday January 19, 2018

UCI chief believes Team Sky should suspend Froome


courtesy of RTE

Team Sky should suspend Chris Froome until an investigation into his failed drugs test for an asthma medication is over, according to International Cycling Union (UCI) president David Lappartient.

The four-time Tour de France winner, who denies breaking any rules, could potentially be stripped of his Vuelta a Espana title after a urine test he took during the race in September showed excessive levels of Salbutamol.

Salbutamol is permitted as a legal asthma drug by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI said Froome’s failed urine test did not necessitate a mandatory provisional suspension even if analysis of his urine sample showed a concentration of 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml), double WADA’s threshold.

“Team Sky should suspend Froome,” Lappartient told daily Le Telegramme.

“However, it is not up to me to interfere. Without going into the question of guilt, it would be simpler for everyone,” said the Frenchman, who was elected last September.

“It’s up to (team manager Dave) Brailsford to take his responsibilities. Apart from that I think that it is what the other riders wish.”

Lappartient, who said he was notified of Froome’s test result an hour after being elected in Bergen, Norway, on 21 September last year, believes that “in the eyes of the wider public (the Briton) is already guilty.

Frenchman Romain Bardet, who finished on the Tour podium in the last two editions, said earlier this week that Froome should pull out of racing until the case is over.

The affair, however, is likely to drag on, according to Lappartient.

“It’s going to be a long judicial battle. It can last at least a year,” he said

Rocket extinguished at Masters by incredible Mark Allen display

Antrim's Mark Allen produced a superb performance

courtesy of RTE

Defending Masters champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was stunned by an astonishing performance from Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen, who marched into the semi-finals on Thursday afternoon.

O’Sullivan, chasing an eighth Masters title, lost 6-1 to the Antrim man after winning the opening frame at Alexandra Palace.

“I’m very, very happy, I scored really well,” Allen told BBC 2. “I find against Ronnie I play more aggressive because you’re going to get fewer chances.”

O’Sullivan, who has been struggling with illness said: “He deserved his win, it was one of those things, good luck to Mark.

“From my perspective I can rest up now and get ready for my next event. I had to show up, if I was a football player I would have missed this game.

“I’m struggling, I don’t know if it’s a virus., I’ve had it before and it’s very difficult, I gave it a go.”

Sánchez Flores is the man they want

Quique Sánchez Flores has currently 18 months left on his current contract with Espanyol

courtesy of RTE

And so Stoke City have a choice to make.

Five days on after the sacking of Mark Hughes and the Potters board it would seem will either go with Martin O’Neill or Quique Sánchez Flores as their next manager.

Spanish journalist Guillem Balagué has reported that the Potters have offered Sánchez Flores, the current Espanyol boss, a five-year deal to take over immediately.

The 52-year-old Spaniard then took charge at the Barcelona club in the summer of 2016, on a three-year deal, and they finished eighth in LaLiga last term. They were 14th ahead of Thursday’s match at Levante.

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So what’s the word on the ground in Stoke?

Matt Sandoz, a reporter with BBC Radio in the midlands city, told RTÉ Sport that Sanchez is the preferred option to take over a side currently languishing in the Premier League drop zone.

“We understand that Flores remains the first choice and that Stoke representatives have been out to Spain to meet or perhaps discuss with Espanyol about any possible compensation – he has another 18 months left on his contract.”

“O’Neill would be a very safe pair of hands if that first choice did not come to fruition”

“I would think by tomorrow, Stoke City will want to make an announcement of some kind regarding the situation.”

So where does this leave the current Republic of Ireland manager?

“We are still not sure whether the club has made contact with Martin O’Neill,” Sandoz revealed.

“O’Neill would be a very safe pair of hands if that first choice did not come to fruition.

“But I am leaning towards Sanchez Flores because there is nothing to suggest that they wouldn’t have spoken to O’Neill by now. They could have appointed him last Monday.”


“If Stoke were to offer O’Neill the job, I believe it would be on a short-term basis, until the end of the season. At that point, the club would assess other options.”

“I think Stoke City fans would see Martin O’Neill as a pragmatic appointment, I wouldn’t say it would generate too much excitement, but fans would ultimately get behind him.

In conclusion, Sandoz revealed that it’s ’50-50′ between O’Neill and Flores as to who respondents would favour when he posed the question on Twitter.

set-back for Bowe following Ulster defeat

courtesy of RTE

Ireland and Ulster winger Tommy Bowe looks set to be sidelined for up to eight weeks after damaging his sternum in Saturday’s Pro14 defeat to Leinster.

Bowe was involved in Ulster’s only try of the disappointing 38-7 defeat to their provincial rivals, however, the Monaghan man picked up an injury in the build-up to Jacob Stockdale’s consolation try six minutes from time.

Ulster’s director of rugby Les Kiss confirmed the expected absence, adding that further tests were required on the former Lion.

“It looks like it’s around the sternum but we’re doing more tests,” said Kiss, speaking to the BBC.

“The doc said weeks so that could be anything getting up to eight. That’s a shame for him.”

The injury could possibly call time on Bowe’s Ireland international career as the current set-back would most likely rule the 33-year-old out of Ireland’s upcoming Six Nations campaign.

Listen to live and exclusive radio commentary of Ulster v Rochelle (Saturday 1pm) and Racing v Munster (Sunday 3.15pm) on RTÉ Radio 1.

Everton agree fee for Turkish striker Cenk Tosun

courtesy of RTE

Everton boss Sam Allardyce has revealed the club are close to sealing a deal for Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun.

Allardyce said at his pre-match press conference on Thursday that talks over personal terms are advanced and that the frontman, who is reportedly valued at £27million, could even be registered in time for Friday night’s FA Cup third round clash with derby rivals Liverpool.

Allardyce said: “I think personal terms are at the final stage. That might happen and we might get him registered for the cup.”

“After some long negotiations we have got to that stage now so that might happen and he might even be getting registered before the cup if we’re lucky but there’s a medical to go through so it might be tight.

“Securing the player is the most important thing because it is our biggest area of concern with the number of goals we are capable of getting.

“On his track record, his age and his ability hopefully that is the case.”

The Toffees boss has not ruled out registering the 26-year-old in time to be eligible for Friday night’s FA Cup Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Anfield.

However, he admits even if the paperwork is completed before tomorrow’s noon deadline it would be a risk to play the newcomer.

“We wouldn’t want to risk damaging him just because it is the Liverpool game because he hasn’t trained for a few days.

“There is a lot of mental energy burned waiting to get the move you want so you wouldn’t want to put him on in that game and risk an injury.”


As long suspected, however, the future of Ross Barkley is destined to be away from the club.

The England international rejected a new contract last year and a move to Chelsea collapsed at the last minute in August but Allardyce expects there to be further movement this month.

“I think the club was resigned before I got here that they were going to lose Ross so I can’t see that changing,” he added.

“I would expect there would be (contact) some time in this window if there is going to be any interest from any of the big boys.”

Forwards Kevin Mirallas and Sandro Ramirez are also likely departures in January.

Defender James Tarkowski has signed a new four-and-a-half-year deal with Burnley.

The 25-year-old’s new contract ties him to the Lancashire club until June 2022 and replaces the existing deal which expired at the end of next season.

Clarets manager Sean Dyche told the club’s official Twitter account: “We felt it appropriate to offer James a new deal on two levels. He’s done well in the Premier League and secondly his contract was out of sync. And there’s a few more we are talking to.”


Lewis Morgan’s move from St Mirren to Celtic is expected to be finalised on Friday, according to Buddies boss Jack Ross.

The 21-year-old winger attended Ross Hall hospital in Glasgow on Thursday for a medical and is expected to sign for the Parkhead club before returning to the Championship leaders on loan for the rest of the season.

Celtic will reportedly pay around a £300,000 fee for the Scotland Under-21 international, who has scored 13 goals of the Paisley side this season, including three in his last two games.

Brighton winger Jamie Murphy is believed to be closing in on a move to Rangers after arriving in Glasgow for a medical.

The former Motherwell player could now join Rangers on their mid-season trip to Florida.

The Ibrox side completed their first January signing on Wednesday when QPR midfielder Sean Goss arrived on a loan deal until the end of the season.

Murphy scored 10 goals in his first two seasons for Brighton and made 40 appearances last term as they sealed promotion, but the 28-year-old has only played four times in the Premier League.

The former Scotland Under-21 international hit 50 goals for Motherwell before moving to Sheffield United five years ago.

Rangers also have Michael O’Halloran back in their ranks following a loan spell with St Johnstone and are trying to secure the early return of Andy Halliday from a season-long deal with Gabala of Azerbaijan.

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