- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Oscar Pistorius was taken away in a police van Tuesday to start serving a five-year prison sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

A South African judge cited the “gross negligence” the Olympic runner showed when he shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home when she delivered the sentence. Pistorius’ prison term begins immediately.

Pistorius could be released after 10 months in jail to serve the remainder under house arrest, according to legal experts.

Masipa also sentenced Pistorius to three years in prison for unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant in a separate incident weeks before Steenkamp’s 2013 shooting death. She ordered that sentence to be wholly suspended for five years on condition that Pistorius is not found guilty of another firearm offense.

Masipa delivered her ruling after reviewing prosecution arguments for a tough sentence as well as the defense case for a more lenient punishment for Pistorius. She said it was a balancing act after defense lawyers had argued that Pistorius had already suffered emotionally and financially after what he called an accidental killing.

Masipa last month convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide, but acquitted him of murder after he testified he mistook Steenkamp for a nighttime intruder.


IRVING, Texas (AP) - The Dallas Cowboys released defensive end Michael Sam from the practice squad on Tuesday, another setback as the NFL’s first openly gay player tries to make an active roster during the regular season for the first time.

Sam spent seven weeks with the Cowboys after signing to their practice squad on Sept. 3, four days after he was among the final cuts by the St. Louis Rams at the end of the preseason.

The Rams drafted the former SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri late in the seventh round in May. He was pick No. 249 out of 256. Sam had three sacks in the preseason with St. Louis playing mostly against second- and third-stringers.

The Cowboys are among the league’s worst in sacks but have been getting solid production with a rotation in the front four of a defense exceeding expectations.

The Cowboys (6-1), off to their best start since they were 12-1 in 2007, are playing their second straight NFC East opponent at home, with Washington (2-5) visiting Monday night.

While releasing Sam, the Cowboys added linebacker Troy Davis of Central Florida and defensive tackle Ken Bishop of Northern Illinois to their practice squad.


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The NCAA and Oklahoma State announced Tuesday that allegations of widespread misconduct in the football program outlined in a Sports Illustrated expose last year were “fundamentally unfounded.”

A joint inquiry by the NCAA and an independent investigator retained by the school, former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt, reviewed approximately 50,000 emails and documents, and included nearly 100 interviews of current and former administrators, coaches, staff, athletes, students and prospects as well as alumni and donors.


SINGAPORE (AP) - Maria Sharapova’s chances of claiming the season-ending No. 1 ranking were hurt Tuesday after a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-2 loss to Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA Finals.

Sharapova had 15 double-faults, including two while serving for the first set, and 76 unforced errors. Wozniacki finished the match, which has 12 breaks of serve, with 35 unforced errors.

It was Wozniacki’s second straight victory over Sharapova. The Dane also won in the fourth round of this year’s U.S. Open.

Sharapova needs to at least reach the final in Singapore and hope Serena Williams loses her two remaining group matches to overtake the American and finish the season with the top ranking for the first time.

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) - Fourth-seeded Milos Raonic hit 12 aces and saved all five break points he faced as he beat Steve Johnson of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the first round of the Swiss Indoors on Tuesday.

The Canadian sealed the win by breaking Johnson’s serve for the first time in the 10th game. He next faces another American, Donald Young.

Mikhail Kukushkin upset third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3. The 84th-ranked Kazakh converted four of his 10 break chances to set up a second-round match with Germany’s Benjamin Becker, who needed just over one hour to breeze past qualifier Gastao Elias of Portugal 6-3, 6-2.

Eighth-seeded Ivo Karlovic had 23 aces as he advanced to the second round with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win against Lukas Rosol.

Croatia’s Ivan Dodig needed nearly three hours to get the better of Swiss wild card Marco Chiudinelli 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-4 and next plays seventh-seeded David Goffin of Belgium.

Canada’s Vasek Pospisil needed just under two hours to defeat Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4. The 24-year-old Pospisil next faces fifth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov or German wild card Alexander Zverev.

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) - Tommy Robredo advanced to the second round of the Valencia Open by beating fifth-seeded John Isner 7-6 (3), 6-3 on Tuesday.

Fellow Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco also won first round matches.

Robredo will next play Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan.

The fourth-seeded Lopez moved past qualifier Norbert Gombos 6-4, 6-4 and will play Pablo Carreno Busta next.

Verdasco had a tougher time but outlasted Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine ousted eighth-seeded Gilles Simon 6-0, 6-3 with 10 aces, and broke the Frenchman five times. Dolgopolov will now meet another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy, who beat Tunisian qualifier Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-1.

Dusan Lajovic of Serbia also won his opener.

Fabio Fognini beat Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 6-2, and seventh-seeded Kevin Anderson eliminated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-4 to earn a match with Martin Klizan.


LAS VEGAS (AP) - UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has injured his right knee in training, forcing him out of his title defense against Fabricio Werdum on Nov. 15.

Mark Hunt will step in to meet Werdum for an interim heavyweight title at UFC 180, the mixed martial arts promotion’s debut in Mexico.

Velasquez (13-1) was the centerpiece of the UFC’s first card in Mexico City, where the 21,000-seat arena sold out in eight hours.

The former Arizona State wrestler hasn’t fought since October 2013, when he tore a labrum in his shoulder while stopping Junior Dos Santos in his second title defense. Velasquez also tore his rotator cuff in October 2010 while beating Brock Lesnar, and he missed several months of training in early 2012 with another knee injury.

Werdum (18-5-1), a 37-year-old Brazilian veteran based in Los Angeles, has won seven of his last eight fights.

Velasquez’s injury sets up an unlikely title shot for the 40-year-old Hunt (10-8-1), who beat Roy Nelson in Japan on Sept. 20 for his fifth win in seven fights. The New Zealander has three weeks to prepare for a high-altitude fight and to make the 265-pound heavyweight limit.

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