Refugee’s NBA dreams dashed after arrest by immigration authorities

A promising basketball player who arrived in Canada as a refugee has had his sporting dreams shattered, after he was accused by immigration authorities of lying about his age.

Jonathon Nicola arrived in Ontario from South Sudan in November, under a programme for refugees called Canada Homestay.

According to the Windsor Star, Nicola, has been arrested for violating the Immigration Refugee Protection Act, and is thought to be 30-years-old.

Since arriving in Canada, Nicola has been posing as a 17-year-old student, with his application for the scheme supported the coach of the basketball team at Catholic Central High School in Windsor.

Peter Cusumano took Nicola under his wing, allowing him to stay in his home after another Sudanese player, Deng D’Awol, brought him to his attention.

The pair helped Nicola move from South Sudan, believing they had a possible future NBA star on their hands.

The Detroit Pistons, who are based near Windsor, donated clothing and equipment for Nicola to use.

The Canadian Border Services Agency confirmed on Wednesday it had arrested Nicola and he still remains in custody, with another hearing next week.

There have been many cases in sport of players and even teams lying about their age.

In 1989, Nigeria were banned by FIFA from taking part in their youth tournaments because they had been fielding over-age players.

Tanguy Ngombo is a Congo-born Qatari citizen who has played basketball internationally for Qatar.

Back in 2011 he was drafted 57th overall by the Dallas Mavericks, before being traded to the Portland Trailblazers and then the Minnesota Timberwolves.

At the time he claimed he was born in 1989, but it subsequently emerged that back in 2005 he was listed as being born in 1984, which would make him 27 ñ much too old for the NBA draft.

Knocking years off your age to benefit in sport is one thing, but Danny Almonte took a different approach in the 2001 Little League World Series.

After striking out 18 of the 21 batters he faced, MLB teams began to show an interest but doubts soon emerged over Almonte’s real age.

It quickly came to light that just before immigrating to the US from the Dominican Republic a year earlier, his dad had chopped a couple of years off his age.

The supposed 12-year-old was actually 14 at the time of his ‘stunning’ performance, meaning he wasn’t quite the phenomenon he appeared to be.

Pioneering female wrestler Chyna found dead

One of the most popular female wrestlers in WWE history has been found dead at the age of 45.

Chyna, whose real name was Joan Marie Laurer, was found dead in Redondo Beach, southern California, on Wednesday.

Police confirmed they were called by a friend who became concerned after not hearing from Laurer for several days.

Sergeant Shawn Freeman said: “The exact nature and cause of the death, as well as the general time of death is under investigation by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s department.”

A message on her verified Twitter account confirmed the news:

“It is with deep sadness to inform you today that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero,” it said. “Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world has passed away.

“She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her.”

TMZ quoted anonymous sources as saying police were investigating a possible drug overdose, adding that prescription bottles – but no illegal drugs – were found at the home.

Laurer turned to the fitness industry to escape a difficult childhood and came to prominence as the character ‘Chyna’ in the WWE during the 1990s.

She initially worked as an enforcer for Triple H, before going on to establish herself as the leading female wrestler in the world.

Chyna is the only female wrestler to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship and also held the Women’s Championship for 231 days in 2001.

Her final WWE appearance came at the Judgement Day pay-per-view in the same year.

In 2004 she began a career in pornography, with her work in the adult industry the reason she has not been inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame.

The WWE’s Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon, posted a tribute message on her Twitter page.

The WWE also added their condolences on Twitter.

Laurer’s passing is the latest in a long line of deaths to hit the wrestling industry, with ‘Iron’ Mike Sharpe and Axl Rotten two of the leading names who have died in 2016.

Some huge names were on the list of wrestler deaths in 2015, including ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes and Buddy Landel.

CSKA clinch historic KHL double

CSKA Moscow claimed their first ever KHL Gagarin Cup after a ?? victory over Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

The seven-game series between the two teams has ebbed and flowed, with CSKA holding a 2-1 advantage after Game 3 before Magnitogorsk turned things around to lead 3-2 by the fifth game.

Last Sunday’s sixth meeting saw CSKA secure a hard fought 3-2 overtime success to set up the deciding match.

CSKA had reached the final in impressive fashion, losing just once in twelve Western Conference play-off games.

They defeated Slovan Bratislava 4-0 in the quarter-final and followed up with a 4-1 semi-final success against Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.

CSKA swept aside reigning champions SKA Saint Petersburgh 4-0 in the conference final to reach the Gagarin Cup Finals for the first time.

Magnitogorsk also enjoyed a comfortable route to the final, overcoming Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 4-2 in the Eastern Conference quarter-final, before easing past Sibir Novosibirsk 4-1 in the semi-final.

Salavat Yulaev Ufa proved no match in the conference final as Magnitogorsk claimed a 4-1 series victory.

CSKA are the first team to win the KHL double, having already claimed the Kontinental Cup courtesy of finishing the regular season with the best record.

Magnitogorsk’s previous Gagarin Cup success came in 2013/14 when they triumphed 4-3 over Lev Praha.

La Liga title race: Barcelona look tired and lost as Madrid teams catch up in Spain and Europe

Barcelona’s 2-1 defeat at home to Valencia on Sunday has cranked up the pressure on the Nou Camp team, with just one point now separating the top three in La Liga.

Both Atletico and Real Madrid have taken advantage of Barca’s recent dip in form to set up what promises to be an enthralling end to the season in Spain.

Lionel Messi’s first goal in five games was his 500th for club and country, but it proved to be little more than a consolation.

Having looked well on course for a second consecutive treble a fortnight ago, Barca find themselves out of the Champions League and severely under the cosh from their Madrid rivals.

Atletico have won seven of their last eight games, while Real have secured seven wins in a row, but Barca boss Luis Enrique believes his team will still claim the title.

“Luck didn’t shine on the team – I congratulate my players for how they faced the adversity during the game,” said Enrique.

“We still depend on ourselves. Our margin for error has run out and we are aware of the challenge. Now we have a marvelous challenge, five games in which if we win them all we are champions.”

Enrique’s team appear to have a favorable run-in, with Wednesday’s trip to Deportivo La Coruna representing their most difficult game on paper.

Deportivo currently lie 13th in the table, with Barca’s remaining opponents Sporting Gijon, Real Betis, Espanyol and Granada all currently below them in the standings.

Atletico travel to fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, while Real host fourth-placed Villareal.

Three of Atletico’s last four games are at home, with a match against relegation-threatened Levante on the penultimate weekend of the season their only away trip.

Real’s final four games include visits to Rayo Vallecano, Real Sociedad and Deportivo, with Valencia at home also representing a potential banana skin.

The Madrid teams have the added distraction of Champions League semi-finals to contend with, while Barca also have the advantage of a better head-to-head record against both their title rivals.

If the teams are level on points at the end of the season, La Liga is decided by a straight aggregate scoreline between the two sides and Barca would win via that scenario.

While Barca could easily win their final five games, their recent collapse is worrying for their title hopes and Enrique admitted after the Valencia defeat that his team need to improve quickly.

“It is evident that we are lacking luck, it won’t surprise anyone that has watched the game,” added Enrique.

“Feeling sorry for ourselves won’t get us anywhere. The players have given a lesson in the second half of how to face a situation like this.

“Until the 93rd minute we were trying to equalise and that is something to highlight. It would be normal to be frustrated with the referee, the opposition, the bad luck.

“We can improve, we can be more precise in the final third, we can improve and we have to, that is the objective.”

Warriors start play-off bid with easy victory

Golden State Warriors kicked off their NBA play-off series against Houston Rockets this weekend with a comfortable 104-78 victory.

The reigning champions, fresh from setting a new regular season record of 73-9, were never threatened by the Rockets although an ankle injury to star man Steph Curry is a concern ahead of the second game.

Curry bagged 24 points against the Warriors and he is confident he will be in the line-up on Monday.

“Right now I don’t see a scenario I would be out,” Curry said. “Pain tolerance, all that stuff, I kind of know what I can deal with on the court.”

Things got a little heated during the game, with Curry taking exception to Patrick Beverley’s close attention midway through the first quarter.

Both players received technical fouls, although Curry played the incident down after the game.

“It felt it was a little too much, so I protected myself and moved on,” he said.

Elsewehere, San Antonio Spurs took a 1-0 lead in their seven-game series against Memphis Grizzlies after a 106-74 success.

Kawhi Leonard bagged 20 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 17 points and Tony Parker had 15 points and six assists for San Antonio.

The Spurs sat their starters in the final quarter to freshen them up for Tuesday night’s second game.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love proved Cleveland aren’t a one-man band as they inspired the Cavaliers to a 106-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Irving scored 31 points, while Love added 28 to leave star man LeBron James in their wake.

James grabbed 22 points and with both Irving and Love suffering injuries in last season’s play-offs he was happy to have them by his side against the Pistons.

“For these two guys, they were just excited to get back to this moment,” he said. “These guys have been working hard, Kyrie on his knee, Kevin on his shoulder just to get back to this moment.

“It was great to be out on the floor with them and for them to put together the performance that they did.”

Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers all secured victories in their opening play-off games.

Monday night sees three Game 2 match-ups, with the Warriors facing the Rockets, Thunder meeting the Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors hosting the Pacers.

Ovechkin on target as Caps take 2-0 lead

Alex Ovechkin was amongst the scorers as Washington Capitals defeated Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 to open up a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven NHL play-off series.

John Carlson, Jason Chimera, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals, while netminder Braden Holtby kept the Flyers at bay with 41 saves.

“They came out hot out of the gates,” Capitals’ forward T. J. Oshie said. “We had a pretty good full 60 minutes there.

“I think our special teams were really good tonight; they had some big plays, a lot of guys sacrificing the body on the penalty kill.

“Holtby, as always, played a really good game. We found a way to win, so hopefully we can take this momentum into Philly.”

Ovechkin now has 37 goals and 71 points in 74 career NHL play-off games.

Elsewhere, the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, are 2-1 down in their series with St Louis after the Blues came from behind in the final period of Game 3 to seal a 3-2 victory.

Colton Parayko, Patrik Berglund and Jaden Schwartz got the goals for the Blues, with goalie Brian Elliott producing 44 saves.

The Blackhawks hadn’t lost in regulation when leading after two periods since May 2014, when Los Angeles won 6-2 at the United Center in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.

The Detroit Red Wings shut-out Tampa Bay Lightning with a 2-0 win to breathe new life into their play-off bid.

Andreas Athanasiou and Henrik Zetterberg scored, while Petr Mrazek made 16 saves to give the Red Wings their first victory after three games.

Red Wings’ boss Jeff Blashill said: “I thought we did a good job from the start of the game tonight all the way through – I thought we played well on both sides of the puck.”

New York Rangers produced the perfect road performance to level the series with Pittsburgh Penguins at one game each.

Keith Yandle, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider were all on the scoresheet, with netminder Henrik Lundqvist adding a solid 29-save performance.

Rangers out-hit the Penguins 57-25 and Lundqvist believes their added physicality was a key factor on the night.

“I think when you go into the play-offs, you’re not going to play the team one time,” Lundqvist said.

“You have to earn it many times. It’s so important that you play a physical game and make it hard, especially on their top guys. It should not be easy for them to create anything.”

Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators lead 2-0 in their respective series against Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, while New York Islanders are 2-1 up against Florida Panthers.

NFL 2016: Panthers and Broncos’ rematch opens new season

Carolina Panthers get an immediate chance to avenge their defeat at Super Bowl 50 by the Denver Broncos, with the two teams set to kick-off the 2016 NFL season on Thursday, September 8 in Denver.

The 256-game regular season schedule was released by the league on Thursday, with the Broncos-Panthers game the first Super Bowl opening day rematch since 1970 when the Kansas City Chiefs faced the Minnesota Vikings.

“I think it’s great,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “It’s a big challenge for our team. It gets our attention really quick.”

“We know that we’re going to have to have a really good offseason. We’ve got some changes going on with our football team, but our standard will be the same. We’ll look forward to it.”

Last year’s Conference championship losers the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals are also set to meet on the opening day, while 2013 Super Bowl winners Seattle Seahawks host the Miami Dolphins.

The highlight of Week 2 sees the Rams play for the first time in Los Angeles since their move from St. Louis. The Seahawks are the visitors to the Memorial Coliseum.

Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers will renew hostilities in the second week, with their previous meeting still fresh in the memory.

Their match-up in the Wild Card round back in January saw the Steelers come from behind to clinch am 18-16 victory, but the game was marred by controversy, with plenty of head-to-head confrontations, late hits and penalties.

The Seahawks’ trip to face the Patriots is the standout game on Week 10.

The Patriots defeated the Seahawks at Super Bowl 49 and the pair were hotly tipped to meet up again in last season’s final but both came up short.

The traditional Thanksgiving tripleheader on Thursday November 24 sees the Vikings take on the Detroit Lions, while the Washington Redskins travel to face the Dallas Cowboys.

The Indianapolis Colts host the Steelers in the day’s final game.

As part of the league’s continued commitment to global expansion there will be three games in London during October.

The Jacksonville Jaguars face the Indianapolis Colts on October 2 at Wembley Stadium, with the Rams meeting the New York Giants at Twickenham Stadium on October 23.

Wembley will host the third game between the Bengals and the Redskins on October 30.

The first ever Monday night game to be played outside the US takes place in Mexico City on November 21 as the Oakland Raiders tackle the Houston Texans.

There are two Christmas Day games, with the Steelers facing the Baltimore Ravens and the Chiefs hosting the Broncos.

The final round of regular season games are scheduled for New Years’ Day 2017.

Serie A teams to demand ‘Truth for Giulio’

Italy’s leading football teams are set to throw their weight behind a public campaign to force Egypt to find the people who killed Italian student Giulio Regeni.

A spokeswoman for Serie A confirmed on Friday that all top flight teams will unveil a banner before their league games next weekend displaying the message ‘Truth for Giulio’.

Regeni disappeared on January 25 in Cairo, where he was researching independent trade unions for his PhD in Development Studies at Cambridge University.

The 28-year-old was found on February 3, with an autopsy revealing he had been severely tortured prior to his death.

Cairo investigators initially claimed he had died in a traffic accident and then said he had been killed by a criminal gang.

Italy rejected both suggestions and last week recalled its ambassador from Cairo.

Human rights groups say Regeni’s killing bears the characteristics of the Egyptian security forces, but the Egyptian government has denied it had anything to do with his either his disappearance or murder.

Amnesty International says there have been over 400 unresolved cases of disappearance in Egypt since August 2015 and nearly 90 cases of torture in the first three months of 2016.

AS Roma’s Egyptian striker, Mohamed Salah, has been caught in the row with La Repubblica newspaper reporting on Friday that a source close to the player had said there was “no way he can step on to the pitch with that banner there”.

Other media outlets suggested that Salah might leave Serie A, but his agent denied this on Twitter.

“Mohamed Salah is very happy in Rome, and at AS Roma,” Ramy Abbas wrote. “Reports of him intending to breach his contract are completely untrue.”

Neither AS Roma or Salah have commented on the situation.

Currently lying third in the Serie A table, Roma are due to play second-placed Napoli on 25 April.

La Repubblica said the game was too important for the striker to suffer a ‘diplomatic injury’.

Salah, who joined Roma on loan from Chelsea last summer after rejecting an offer to make his move to Fiorentina permanent, has scored 12 league goals this season.

Vladimir Putin and Sharapova sponsor criticize WADA

Sports equipment and clothing manufacturer Head has backed Maria Sharapova over her use of meldonium.

Sharapova is set to face a hearing after testing positive for the banned substance, despite the recent admission by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that there is ‘currently a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times’ for the drug.

WADA confirmed earlier this week that athletes who tested positive for meldonium before 1 March could avoid bans, but the International Tennis Federation said Sharapova’s case will proceed.

Meldonium was added to banned substances list from January 1, with the Russian subsequently failing a test at January’s Australian Open.

Head chief executive and chairman, Johan Eliasch, said: “It is now quite clear that WADA made the decision to ban meldonium based solely upon the alleged prevalence of use among Eastern European and Russian athletes.”

“This highlights a wholly flawed decision-making process by WADA whereby the ban on meldonium has no justification.”

“Until clinical testing is undertaken to prove that meldonium has indeed performance-enhancing potential, WADA should provide amnesty to athletes who had been taking the drug at the direction of a doctor for a proven medical condition, if not all athletes.”

Over 170 athletes have tested positive for meldonium since it was added to the list, and with WADA admitting it’s uncertain how long the drug remains in the body support for Sharapova is growing.

Ex-Russian men’s tennis star Marat Safin has given his backing to his compatriot.

“I believe that Maria is a professional and a team of professionals is working with her,” he said.

“I also believe that some sort of a technical mistake could be behind her situation with meldonium.

“It takes meldonium quite some time to leave the body system, up to three months. Meldonium remained in the body systems of many Russian athletes, who tested positive for the drug.”

“Perhaps they consumed the drug in September or October. It all depends on the individual physical peculiarities of the body system of an athlete.”

“In some cases, meldonium dehydrated from the body system and in some it did not.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin has also criticized WADA for not properly researching meldonium to understand how much time the drug takes to leave the system.

When speaking on a phone-in on Russian television, the Russian president said “there was no proper data” available to WADA on meldonium use and that WADA moved too quickly to ban the drug.

While he did not think Russian athletes were being targeted by WADA, he re-iterated that meldonium was not a performance enhancing drug.

“This substance was never considered as doping,” Putin said. “It doesn’t influence the result. That’s totally certain. It just keeps the heart muscles in good condition under high load.”

With the meldonium case still hanging over Sharapova, she has chosen not to enter the upcoming 2016 French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros despite being listed as eligible to compete.

Sharapova hasn’t played since the Australian Open and her participation at the 2016 Olympics in Rio remains in doubt.

Despite support from elsewhere, the former world number one has seen other sponsors distance themselves from her, with TAG Heuer saying it wouldn’t seek to extend its sponsorship with the Russian even if she received an amnesty from WADA.

Sharapova’s previous contract with the Swiss watch maker expired on December 31 2015.

Barcelona treble dreams dashed as Atletico progress in Champions League

Catalan powerhouses Barcelona were surprisingly eliminated from the Champions League last night by Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid, while Bayern Munich also booked a semi-finals berth.

The Camp Nou side have been in scintillating form over the last 18 months and were hot favorites to retain the European crown they won last season.

Luis Enrique’s men claimed a momentous treble in 2014-15 but their hopes of replicating the feat came unstuck at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night.

An Antoine Griezmann double gave Atletico a 2-0 victory on the night and 3-2 aggregate win over Barca, sending the capital city faithful into rapture.

The visitors held a slender 2-1 lead from the first leg and were put on the back foot when the hosts opened the scoring through the France international forward.

As Barca looked for an equalizer that would surely send them through, Griezmann added a second from the penalty spot in the 88th minute to double the advantage.

Diego Simeone’s men valiantly held out against the collective ability of the visiting forward line, containing Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, and will now hope to go all the way and become European champions.

However, controversy struck in the dying moments when a late handball from Atletico midfield stalwart Gabi was ruled to be just outside the penalty box, with Barcelona remonstrating that they should have been awarded a spot kick.

Messi fired the resultant 91st minute free-kick off target and Simeone’s men held on to book their place in the last four.

Meanwhile in Portugal, Bayern Munich drew 2-2 with an able Benfica side to progress through to the latter stages, winning 3-2 on aggregate.

The Bundesliga giants had won the first leg in Bavaria 1-0 and the tie was evened up in the early stages at the Estadio da Luz when Raul Jimenez struck.

However, goals from Arturo Vidal and Thomas Muller put the Allianz Arena side back in the ascendancy and despite a Talisca equalizer the Germans had enough in their locker to hold out.

With Pep Guardiola leaving Bayern at the end of the season, the distinguished coach will hope to add European glory to his spate of Bundesliga titles from the last three years.

Barcelona’s elimination rules out another Clasico encounter in the semi-finals, while all four of the remaining sides will be given renewed optimism of competition glory now that the ominous Catalans are no longer a threat.

Guardiola faces the possibility of being paired with the club he will manage next season, Manchester City, in the final stages, while Real Madrid will hope to salvage their season by winning an unprecedented 11th European crown.

The draw for the semi-finals will take place on Friday, with City, Madrid, Atletico and Bayern all eagerly awaiting their next challenge.