- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 28, 2017

OLYMPICS

GENEVA (AP) - In a blow to the credibility of Russia’s denials that it operated state-backed Olympic doping, an IOC judging panel has endorsed a key whistleblower and the investigator who exposed the plot.

Orchestrated cheating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games was “a conspiracy which infected and subverted the Olympic Games in the worst possible manner,” an International Olympic Committee commission prosecuting a slew of Russian cases said on Monday.

Former Moscow and Sochi laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov was a “truthful witness,” the panel said in publishing its first detailed verdict on the same day it sanctioned five more Russian athletes to bring the total to 19.

Rodchenkov is living in the United States under FBI protection as a cooperating witness.



The IOC panel, chaired by Denis Oswald, agreed that investigator Richard McLaren - appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency to verify Rodchenkov’s claims to American media in May 2016 - proved the existence of a doping conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt.

PRO BASKETBALL

The Memphis Grizzlies fired coach David Fizdale with the team at 7-12 and a day after he benched center Marc Gasol for the fourth quarter of an eighth straight loss.

General manager Chris Wallace announced the move. Associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been named interim coach.

“After a thorough evaluation, I decided a change in course was necessary to move forward and provide the team and organization its best chance at success this season and beyond,” Wallace said in a statement.

Gasol, given a maximum deal by the Grizzlies in July 2015, sat throughout the fourth quarter of a 98-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Gasol leads the Grizzlies in points, rebounds and assists, and he was an All-Star in Fizdale’s inaugural season. But the center spent plenty of time after the game making it clear to reporters how upset he was at sitting out a full quarter.

PRO FOOTBALL

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - Oakland receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib were suspended two games each without pay for fighting during the recent game between the two teams.

NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan announced the suspensions a day after the two players brawled during Oakland’s 21-14 victory. Both players can appeal the suspensions.

The fight was a continuation of a dispute that started last season when Talib ripped Crabtree’s chain off during the season finale. Crabtree missed the first game between the teams this year but didn’t wait long to seek revenge.

Crabtree punched Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. while blocking him on the first play of Oakland’s second drive. He then aggressively blocked Talib on a running play and drove him to the ground on the Broncos’ sideline on the following play, starting the brawl.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee athletic director John Currie is defending his coaching search and vouching for the character of Greg Schiano a day after negotiations between the two parties broke down amid a public backlash.

Currie issued a statement acknowledging the Ohio State defensive coordinator had been a leading candidate for the Volunteers’ coaching vacancy without explaining why the two sides parted ways.

Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport issued a statement saying, “I deeply regret the events of yesterday for everyone involved.” Davenport added that “the university remains steadfast in its commitment to excellence, and I look forward to John Currie continuing the search” for a new coach.

The school and Schiano were close to an agreement Sunday before the deal fell apart after heavy criticism from fans, state lawmakers and gubernatorial candidates. Their complaints stemmed from Schiano’s background as an assistant at Penn State during Jerry Sandusky’s tenure as the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator. Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for his conviction on 45 counts of sexual abuse.

Court documents released last year of a deposition in a case related to the Sandusky scandal suggested Schiano might have been aware of Sandusky’s sexual abuse against children, though Schiano has said he never saw abuse or had any reason to suspect it while working at Penn State.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Chip Kelly seemed a bit surprised by the standing ovation from hundreds of UCLA fans and boosters when he walked into the upscale club room at hallowed Pauley Pavilion to become the Bruins’ new head coach.

“Not a lot going on in LA today?” Kelly asked with a grin.

Kelly was the biggest show in Hollywood on Monday, and UCLA is betting big on the former Oregon coach’s ability to transform its up-and-down program into a must-see attraction.

The most coveted coach on the college football market formally accepted his new job with quiet confidence, declining to make any vows about winning Pac-12 championships or national titles. Instead, Kelly began his tenure by expressing respect for his predecessors at UCLA - and not just in the sport that he fundamentally changed with the Ducks only a half-decade ago.

“If you’re a coach, the unofficial mentor of probably all coaches is the great John Wooden,” Kelly said. “I think every coach that has ever put on some shoes and grabbed a whistle and got out and tried to educate young men and women has learned from his Pyramid of Success. And to be at the same campus where he affected so many people and still affects so many people is really, truly an honor.”

UCLA hasn’t won a conference title since 1998, but this sleeping giant of a football program is wide awake following a double jolt of excitement in the past few months.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

EL PASO, Texas (AP) - UTEP coach Tim Floyd abruptly announced his immediate retirement after a 66-52 loss to Lamar.

Floyd won 466 games as a college coach at five schools, including Iowa State and Southern California. He also was coach for the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets in the NBA.

The 63-year-old Floyd took over at UTEP before the 2010-11 season, winning 138 games.

The unexpected statement came during his postgame news conference after the Miners (1-5) lost their fifth straight game. Floyd said it was “the right time” and that it was “my last game as a coach.”

In a news release, UTEP said it would announce a plan Tuesday for who would lead the program.

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