8 Olympic athletes banned for trying to lose

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8 Olympic athletes banned for trying to lose

From Comcast SportsNet
LONDON (AP) -- Eight female badminton doubles players were disqualified Wednesday from the London Olympics after trying to lose matches to receive a more favorable place in the tournament. The Badminton World Federation announced its ruling after investigating two teams from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia. It punished them for "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport" in matches Tuesday night. "We applaud the federation for having taken swift and decisive action," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press. "Such behavior is incompatible with the Olympic values." Erick Thohir, the head of Indonesia's Olympic team, told the AP that the Indonesian team will appeal. The BWF said South Korea had also appealed. The competition was to continue later Wednesday. It was unclear if four eliminated teams would be placed into the quarterfinals or if the competition would restart at the semifinal stage. Thohir accused Chinese players of losing on purpose in the past. "China has been doing this so many times and they never get sanctioned by the BWF," Thohir said. "On the first game yesterday when China did it, the BWF didn't do anything. If the BWF do something on the first game and they say you are disqualified, it is a warning for everyone." IOC Vice President Craig Reedie, the former head of the international badminton federation, welcomed the decision. "Sport is competitive," Reedie told the AP. "If you lose the competitive element, then the whole thing becomes a nonsense. "You cannot allow a player to abuse the tournament like that, and not take firm action. So good on them." The eight disqualified players are world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, along with South Korea's Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. The players went before a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, a day after spectators at the arena booed their performance after it became clear they were deliberately trying to lose. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge had been at the venue but had left shortly before the drama unfolded. The IOC said it would allow badminton's ruling body to handle the matter. Paul Deighton, chief executive officer of the London organizers, said there would be no refunds for the evening's badminton program. Chairman Sebastian Coe called what happened "depressing," adding "who wants to sit through something like that?" Teams blamed the introduction of a round-robin stage rather than a straight knockout tournament as the main cause of the problem. In the round-robin format, losing one game can lead to an easier matchup in the next round. The Chinese players were accused of leading the way by deliberately losing a game. This led to other teams behaving in a similar way to try to force an easier quarterfinal. At one stage, both teams appeared to be trying to lose. Wang and Yu and their opponents were booed loudly by the crowd after dumping serves into the net and making simple errors, such as hitting the shuttlecock wide. The longest rally in their first game was only four strokes. The umpire warned them, and tournament referee Torsten Berg spoke to all four players but it had little effect. At one stage, Berg showed a black card, which usually means disqualification, but the game continued. Eventually, the Chinese women lost 21-14, 21-11 and both pairs were jeered off the court. One of the world's top male players, 2004 Olympic singles champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, called the situation a "circus match." The teams had already qualified for knockout round, but the result ensured that the top-seeded Wang and Yu would have avoided playing their No. 2-seeded Chinese teammates until the final. The problem was repeated in the next women's doubles between South Korea's Ha and Kim Min-jung and their Indonesian opponents. Both teams were also warned for deliberately losing points in a match the South Koreans won 18-21, 21-14, 21-12. China's Lin Dan, the No. 2-ranked men's singles player, said through an interpreter the sport is going to be damaged. "Especially for the audience," he said before the disqualifications were announced. "This is definitely not within the Olympic spirit. But like I said before, it's not one-sided. Whoever sets the rule should make it knockout so whoever doesn't try will just leave the Olympics." Beijing badminton silver medalist Gail Emms said the matches were embarrassing to watch. "It was absolutely shocking," she said. "The crowds were booing and chanting 'Off, off, off.'"

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Zach Britton gets AL saves record as Orioles beat Astros 9-7

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USA TODAY Sports

Zach Britton gets AL saves record as Orioles beat Astros 9-7

BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton set an American League record by converting his 55th consecutive save opportunity, blanking the Houston Astros in the ninth inning the seal the Baltimore Orioles' 9-7 victory on Sunday.

Britton struck out the first two batters and issued a walk before pinch-hitter George Springer bounced into a force play to end it.

Britton broke the AL mark held by Tom Gordon, who notched 54 straight saves with Boston from 1998-99. Britton started his run on Oct. 1, 2015, added 47 in a row last season and is 6 for 6 this year.

The major league record of 84 is held by Eric Gagne of the Dodgers from 2002-04. Saves became an official statistic in 1969.

Britton earned his fifth save on April 14 and endured two months on the disabled list with a strained left forearm before returning on July 5.

Baltimore broke a tie with two runs in the eighth against Luke Gregerson (2-3), using a sacrifice fly by Manny Machado and an RBI single by Jonathan Schoop.

Britton made the lead stand up, using 16 pitches to retire the AL West leaders.

Mark Trumbo homered and Adam Jones had four hits for the Orioles, who avoided a three-game sweep. Baltimore had lost eight straight to Houston, dating to last year.

Mychal Givens (7-0) worked the eighth for the Orioles.

The Astros twice fell behind by three runs before coming back. Jose Altuve's 15th home run -- the first of his four hits -- made it 3-all in the fourth, and Noro Aoki connected with two on in the sixth to knot the score at 6.

Houston added a run in the sixth, but Trumbo tied it with a shot to left leading off the seventh.

Astros starter Lance McCullers gave up six runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. In three starts this month, the right-hander is 0-1 with a 9.88 ERA.

Baltimore's Dylan Bundy allowed seven runs in 5 1/3 innings, including both Houston homers.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Astros: 3B Colin Moran was placed on the disabled list with a facial fracture. The injury occurred Saturday night when the rookie fouled a ball off his cheek, and he remained hospitalized Sunday. Houston recalled 1B Tyler White from Triple-A Fresno. ... LHP Dallas Keuchel pitched five innings in his second rehab appearance Saturday night. He's been on the DL since June 5 with a neck injury.

Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy, who's been on the DL since June 19 with a fractured wrist, is taking grounders but not yet throwing. "Right now, the stage is getting the mobility back," Hardy said. He will see a hand specialist in a week, then seek to strengthen the wrist before starting baseball activities.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Brad Peacock (8-1, 2.49 ERA) helps Houston launch a three-game interleague series in Philadelphia on Monday night.

Orioles: Kevin Gausman (6-7, 6.11 ERA) seeks to level his record for the first time since April 18 when Baltimore opens a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday night.

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John Wall's new contract makes Wizards' future clear in terms of salaries and personnel

John Wall's new contract makes Wizards' future clear in terms of salaries and personnel

With a four-year extension that runs through the 2022-23 season, the Wizards and John Wall have hitched their wagons for the longhaul. Wall has committed to playing in Washington through his Age 32 season. Now that he is firmly in place, the Wizards' future in terms of salaries and personnel is quite clear.

Wall, who turns 27 in September, will be there through 2023. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, who each turned 24 last month, are under contract through 2020-21 with Porter's final season including a player option.

The Wizards have almost $100 million committed for that 2020-21 season, meaning they are tightly locked in with Wall, Beal and Porter leading the charge. Center Ian Mahinmi is the only other Wizards player with a contract beyond 2018-19.

Washington is in a good spot given Wall, Beal and Porter are all young and still improving. They will reach their ceiling as a trio at some point, but even after winning 49 games and their division this past season, it doesn't seem like they are there quite yet. All three could conceivably make another significant leap. If any combination of them do, the Wizards' will be sitting pretty.

[RELATED: NBA reacts to John Wall's new contract]

Wall is probably closer to reaching his peak than the other two given he is further along in his career and already a perennial All-Star and All-NBA selection. The question regarding him may be how his game will age over the course of this contract which now runs six more years.

Wall shared some insight into how he hopes his game develops over the next several years in an interview with NBATV during a Wizards' Summer League game. He mentioned improving his post-up game as a big guard and also his three-point shot. Wall pointed to Jason Kidd, who found new life later in his career as a consistent three-point shooter.

Following Kidd's lead is perfect for Wall. Kidd was a very similar point guard at Wall's age. At 6-4 and with incomparable speed, he overmatched many of his opponents with pure physical superiority. Like Wall, Kidd was a pass-first guard but could score plenty without being a major threat from three. 

[RELATED: Wall and Wizards' union is a display of commitment rarely seen]

But later in his career, Kidd developed an outside shot and it helped him play until he was 39. Kidd was still making All-Star teams as late as 36.

Wall just completed his Age 26 season and through seven years in the NBA he's shot 32.1 percent from three on 2.7 attempts per game. At the same age, Kidd had shot 32.7 percent from three on 3.2 attempts per game. That is almost identical.

Kidd actually didn't truly hit his stride from three until his mid-30s, once he wasn't the fastest anymore and he needed to expand his game. From age 34 through 39, Kidd shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc including over 40 percent in 2008-09 and 2009-10 at 35- and 36-years-old, respectively.

By the time Kidd was done, he was one of the top three-point shooters of all-time. He currently ranks eighth in NBA history with 1,988 career threes.

We don't know exactly how Wall's game will progress over the next few years. What we do know is that it will be in Washington and with Beal and Porter as his running mates.

[RELATED: Wizards are building something special in Eastern Conference]