Fuming French accuse England of dirty tricks

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Fuming French accuse England of dirty tricks

From Comcast SportsNet
LONDON (AP) -- It's a feud that's been simmering for seven years -- or, if you leaf through the history books, since at least the Middle Ages. From the moment in 2005 that London trumped Paris by four votes in the contest to host the 2012 Olympics, France has seethed -- furious that their neighbors and historical adversaries had scored a victory every bit as painful as Napoleon's humbling at the fabled Battle of Waterloo. Now, French anger has burst out into the open. In newspapers, on television debate shows and in scores of posts to social networks, Britain is accused of cheating its way to gold medals in the cycling velodrome and of stretching rules on the rowing course. British crowds have been blasted for failing to show enough support to rival nations' competitors, while organizers have faced scorn for failing to rein in judges deemed too harsh on French athletes. British Prime Minister David Cameron has even defended his country's track cyclists -- who won a formidable haul of 14 medals -- from insinuations that their success must be the result of drugs or illegally modified bicycles. "Of course there is no cheating," an indignant Cameron told France 2 television in an interview Wednesday. "There are the most strict anti-doping tests in these Olympics that there have ever been. There are very strict rules about equipment." French cycling fans were already digesting the shock of Bradley Wiggins becoming the first British rider ever to win the prestigious Tour de France last month. To crown that feat, Wiggins and his teammates then won seven of 10 events in the Olympic velodrome -- once a French stronghold. "It's driving the French mad," Cameron teased Thursday, speaking to BBC radio. "I think they found the Union Jacks on the Champs-Elysees a bit hard to take." First Isabelle Gautheron, director of the French Olympic cycling team, stirred old animosities by suggesting Britain's gold streak may have been aided by subterfuge, hinting at the U.K. team's "magic wheels" and its little discussed work with the McLaren Formula One team on cutting edge technology to produce the quickest bike. "They hide their wheels a lot. The ones for the bikes they race on are put in wheel covers at the finish," Gautheron was quoted as telling the French sports newspaper L'Equipe. Then France's world champion cyclist Gregory Bauge -- beaten to gold in the individual sprint category by Britain's Jason Kenny -- hijacked a post-race news conference, demanding that his rival divulge the U.K.'s secrets. Tempers reached boiling point when Britain's Philip Hindes suggested he had crashed his bike deliberately after a lackluster opening during a team sprint -- causing the race to be restarted. Hindes went unpunished; Britain later took gold. Animosity hasn't been confined only to those on two wheels. French rowing coaches complained bitterly after Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter of Britain were allowed a restart in the lightweight double sculls final. A seat in their boat had snapped off, but the French insisted the incident had happened after 100 meters of the race had passed -- meaning there should have been no leniency. Guy Drut, who claimed the 110-meter hurdles gold in 1976 and serves on an International Olympic Committee commission, has complained that British crowds have cheered loudly only for their home athletes -- refusing to acknowledge the efforts of other nations. A controversial decision that cost French boxer Alexis Vastine a win in his bout with welterweight Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine also brought a furious online reaction from French fans, who castigated officials and organizers. Complaints about favoritism for British athletes aren't all coming from the French. After his team was beaten in a quarterfinal by Britain, Spain field hockey coach Dani Martin complained that some "countries are being favored" by referees. "This is (like) a district tournament," Indian welterweight boxer Manoj Kumar said, speaking through a translator, after he was defeated in a close contest by Britain's Tom Stalker. "It's not an Olympic tournament. Cheating, cheating, cheating."

Remembering Jim Vance, a Washington institution and the city's guiding light

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NBC Washington

Remembering Jim Vance, a Washington institution and the city's guiding light

Washington, D.C. is a city of great institution, and in its human form, there was no greater institution than Jim Vance. 

For 45 years -- the longest of any newscaster in the region -- Vance treated every Washingtonian with courtesy, respect and the ability to not just read the news, but talk with you about it. The latter is an important distinction in this city, one ruled by political grandstanding and ruthless social posturing.

On Saturday, the nation's capital lost its kindest, most charismatic and respected voice of news and information, as Vance passed away at the age of 75.

I am not writing this as an employee of NBC Universal, nor am I writing this as a former intern at NBC4.  I am writing this as the son of a Washingtonian. I am writing this as a 32-year old who was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Someone who took the local bus to high school every day, the same bus adorned with his NBC4 headshot.

I am writing this as someone who loves Washington, D.C. as not the seat of American politics, but the greatest local community in the country.

And Vance was the face and the voice of the local community.

But what made Vance great was not what he did, but how he did it.

Vance was as charming a newscaster as you will ever see. He was polite but direct. He could make you laugh and make you cry. He made you care about the community, whether you grew up on a metro line or simply spent a summer interning on one.

I did not know Jim Vance on a personal level. I met him on several occasions as an intern, and as incredible of a journalist as he was, what always shined was his urbane sophistication and truly warm demeanor.

He was the same person on television as he was in the newsroom, and was that very same person when you ran into him at the local florist. He was Washington D.C.'s guiding light. The city's voice of knowledge and community.

It's why despite hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians not knowing Jim Vance on a personal level, each and everyone felt like he was a part of their extended family.

We welcomed him into our houses every day.

We discussed the local happenings and important world issues.

We groaned when local teams were eliminated from the playoffs and shared imaginary yet all-too-real hi-fives when the teams won. 

He wasn't just a newscaster. He was a Washingtonian. He was the guy whose photo you saw on the wall at local delis and the guy who stood behind you in-line at the very same place. 

Death is human, but influence is forever. Jim Vance truly is a Washington institution, one that will never die.

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John Wall and Wizards' partnership is a display of commitment rarely seen

John Wall and Wizards' partnership is a display of commitment rarely seen

No player has defined the Washington Wizards organization since they rebranded 20 years ago quite like John Wall, a superstar point guard who has developed from a first overall pick into a perennial All-Star and pillar of playoff success. Wall has etched a unique legacy within the franchise's history in just seven NBA seasons. Now he has ensured them of at least six more.

It's the yearly terms that stand out most in Wall's new contract with the Wizards, a four-year extension worth $170 million. Four years does not sound long, but that will take Wall through at least the majority, if not all, of his prime. He will enter his Age 27 season this fall, but with two years left on his current deal Wall's new contract will keep him in Washington through 2023. He will be 32 by the time it expires.

If Wall complets those 13 seasons with the Wizards, barring a trade or something unforeseen, he will have played as long for one team as Wes Unseld (Bullets), Larry Bird (Celtics), Kevin McHale (Celtics), Magic Johnson (Lakers) and Isaiah Thomas (Pistons). Dwyane Wade spent 13 seasons with the Heat before leaving. Michael Jordan played 13 in Chicago. 

Among active players, only Dirk Nowitzki (Mavs, 19 years), Tony Parker (Spurs, 16), Manu Ginobli (Spurs, 15) and Udonis Haslem (Heat, 14) have been with one team longer than 13 years.

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

Only Unseld has spent more than nine seasons with the Wizards/Bullets franchise. Wall is two years away from matching the six players tied for second with nine seasons including Phil Chenier, Gus Johnson and Elvin Hayes. Those guys were all Bullets. Wall is a Wizard through and through.

Evaluating this partnership from Wall's perspective is interesting. Naturally, the Wizards would be willing to retain him for the longhaul. He is one of the best players in the NBA and has the off-court comportment any team would covet as the face of their franchise. But for Wall to make this commitment is a rare display of loyalty in an age where NBA superstars jump teams like never before.

Loyalty may not be the perfect word, as ultimately Wall will make much more money in Washington than he could elsewhere. But his devotion to the city of Washington and finishing what he started with a franchise that has experienced many lean years for decades is nearly unparalleled in this day and age. 

Think about it. How many players in today's NBA more define the franchise they play for, not just in contemporary terms but in the team's history? Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City, Paul George left Indiana, Gordon Hayward left Utah and Chris Paul left the Clippers, all within the last 13 months. Meanwhile, Wall has never wavered publicly about his commitment to the Wizards.

[RELATED: Is Washington a basketball destination now?]

Wall's firm allegiance to the Wizards has helped the team hold up a point majority owner Ted Leonsis made during Wednesday's press conference to announce Otto Porter's own max contract, that he prefers "no drama" in contract negotiations. He boasted how there was no drama in Wall's first max deal signed back in 2013, nor was there any with Bradley Beal last summer or Porter this year. Now, with Wall's second contract, the Wizards have been able to get these deals done without any sort of realistic doubt for fans about their favorite players leaving. That is no small feat.

That is of course in great contrast with many NBA superstars between Dwight Howard's days in Orlando, Paul's time in New Orleans, Carmelo Anthony's tenure in both Denver and New York, LeBron James in both of his stints in Cleveland, etc. Some of those players left, some didn't. But all had drama that lasted for years and weighed heavily on everyone involved.

Wizards fans, on the other hand, had no serious fear of seeing Wall go. That is an unusual sense of security in most places but even more so in the city of Washington. Between Kirk Cousins and Bryce Harper, the thought of losing a franchise cornerstone is a very real thing for D.C. fans. Cousins and Harper have done nothing wrong and they shouldn't be faulted for playing their hand in what is ultimately a cutthroat business, but it's hard not to notice how Wall has gone out of his way to make D.C. his home, embracing the city in every sense.

Keeping great players and the longevity of stardom is something even more foreign to those who have rooted for the Bullets and Wizards over the last few decades. It's not that they haven't acquired superstars, they just haven't been able to keep them.

Chris Webber could end up in the Hall of Fame someday, but Washington traded him at the beginning of his prime. Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace all became stars after leaving D.C. and helped win a championship for the Detroit Pistons. Gilbert Arenas was a sensation, but his tenure was brief and ultimately catastrophic. 

Wall's career in Washington has already gone much differently than those. And because of his new contract, fans can dream about the future knowing he will be a part of it.

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