SPONSOR PEDALS AWAY
AMSTERDAM — Dutch lender Rabobank has ended its 17-year sponsorship of professional cycling, saying it had lost faith in the sport’s leaders to clean up following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
Rabobank is the biggest backer of Dutch professional cycling, with total sponsorship worth ‚15 million a year in a nation with as many bikes as people.
Its decision shows the damage being done to cycling after the US Anti-Doping Agency said seven times Tour de France winner Armstrong took part in and organised a sophisticated doping scheme on his way to success.
“We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future,” Bert Bruggink, Rabobank board member, said in a statement.
“The USADA report was the final straw,” he added later in a press conference televised live in the Netherlands. “The international sport of cycling is not only sick, the sickness goes up to the highest levels,” he said.
LONDON — El Hadji Diouf has launched a stinging attack on former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard, accusing him of being “selfish” and “unloved” by other Reds players.
Gerrard and Diouf never saw eye-to-eye during the Senegalese’s two years at Anfield with the Reds skipper hitting out at Diouf in his autobiography for failing to give his all during his time at the club.
The pair have also been embroiled in clashes with each other during games between their respective clubs since Diouf’s departure from Anfield.
“Steven Gerrard’s words? It is jealousy,” Diouf told L’Equipe. “I was the most important man at that time and I had everyone at my feet.
“I was committed to the Senegal national team. I took them to the quarter finals of the 2002 World Cup.
“I was in the 100 best players of the century list by Pele not him.
“I respect him as a footballer, but there is no one more selfish than he is. He prefers that Liverpool loses and he scores.
“He doesn’t care about anyone. I’ve talked to Liverpool greats and no one can stand him.”
HALL OF FAMER PASSES
HOUSTON — Slater Martin, the defensive-minded Hall of Fame guard who won four NBA titles with the Minneapolis Lakers and one with the St. Louis Hawks, died yesterday. He was 86.
Martin died at a skilled nursing facility in Houston after a sudden illness, daughter-in-law Becky Martin said. She said he was admitted to the nursing home Monday.
Martin was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. He went into the University of Texas’ Longhorn Hall of Honour in 1962, entered the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1964, and the school retired his No. 15 in 2009.
“I think he’s the best defensive guard that ever lived. That includes all the ones right now,” said Sid Hartman, the 92-year-old sports columnist for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis who served as the de-facto general manager of the Lakers.
The five-foot-10 Martin averaged 9.8 points and 4.2 assists in 745 NBA regular-season game with Minneapolis, New York and St. Louis from 1949-50 to 1959-60. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.2 assists in 92 playoff games, winning titles with Minneapolis in 1950, ’52, ’53 and ’54 and St. Louis in 1958.