Digest - Armstrong confirms Tour de France return

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SEVEN-TIMES winner Lance Armstrong will make a Tour de France comeback next year, his spokesman has confirmed. The 37-year-old rider announced in September he was coming out of retirement for the 2009 season.

A cancer survivor, Armstrong won the Tour for a record seven consecutive years from 1999-2005. The American retired following his 2005 victory and has since devoted himself to the fight against cancer –raising funds and awareness through his foundation.

Armstrong, who will race for Astana, had already confirmed that he would compete in the Giro d'Italia, the Tour of Flanders and the Tour of California and several of the one-day classic races.

The Texas-born former road race world champion and bronze medallist from the Sydney Olympics in 2000, had said his comeback race will be the Tour Down Under around Adelaide, Australia in January. Armstrong has had a strained relationship with the Tour de France organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), who said in October that his return would be "embarrassing".

The French daily newspaper L'Equipe, owned by ASO's parent company EPA (Editions Philippe Amaury), claimed three years ago that samples of Armstrong's urine from 1999 showed traces of the banned blood-boosting substance erythropoietin.

Armstrong, however, never tested positive and was cleared by a Dutch investigator appointed by the International Cycling Union.

Armstrong started training with his new team yesterday without having subjected himself to drug tests by Don Catlin, America's top anti-doping expert, with whom he has arranged a testing programme.

But Armstrong said the goal was not to have the programme in place by this week, but by the time he makes his comeback in Australia in January.

WORLD RECORD STATUS OPEN SHOOT (Montrose): Men: Compound: 1, A Ward (Edinburgh University Alumni) 584pts; 2, M Krusche (Shetland) 557; 3, D Cowieson (Disability Fife) 555. Recurve: 1, S Needham (Links) 576; 2, M Alexander (Grampian) 573; 3, J Laing (Links) 568. Women: Compound: 1, M Kirkwood (Pentland) 554; 2, E McLean (Penicuik) 545; 3, A Seawell (Edinburgh University) 541. Recurve: 1, J Jeppsson (Edinburgh University) 571; 2, E Williams (Edinburgh University) 540; 3, L Provan (Links/junior) 33

SEVEN of Team GB's Olympic gold medallists have been included on the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2008 award. Chris Hoy, who took three first places in Beijing, is one of four members of the dominant cycling team to make the ten-strong list, along with double gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, Nicole Cooke and Rebecca Romero. Swimmer Rebecca Adlington is another Olympian to make the cut after she tasted glory in the 400m and 800m freestyle, with sailing's Ben Ainslie and athletics star Christine Ohuruogu the other Games heroes in line for the prestigious award.

Unbeaten boxer Joe Calzaghe has the chance to retain the title he won last year after high-profile defeats of Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr, with Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and US Open finalist Andy Murray completing the shortlist. Despite Manchester United's domestic and European double last season, and the improved performances of England under Fabio Capello, no footballers have been deemed worthy of consideration by the panel of 28 sports editors who drew up the list. There are also no Paralympians on the list despite the 102 medals, including 42 golds, picked up in Beijing.

The winner will be decided by a phone vote held during the Sports Personality of the Year show at Liverpool's Echo Arena on 14 December. Hamilton is the odds-on favourite with William Hill to take the award, at 1/2, after his sensational title triumph which was clinched at the final corner of the season's last race in Brazil a month ago. Adlington (11/4) and Hoy (9/2) are second and third in the early betting stakes, with Cooke and Romero (both 100/1) the outsiders.ATHLETICS

USAIN Bolt's stunning world record in the Olympic 100 metres final is still a long way from how fast the human body can go, according to a study by a US professor. Shortly after Bolt ran 9.69secs in Beijing, Stanford University biology professor Mark Denny set about to estimate just how fast humans will be able to run. He concluded that male sprinters could eventually get the 100m record down to 9.48 and women could run the distance in 10.39. "My results ... tell us that speed has limits, but not what accounts for these limits," writes Denny, whose conclusions were published last week in the Journal of Experimental Biology.BASKETBALL

NBA: Denver Nuggets 104 Houston Rockets 94, Detroit Pistons 85 Portland Trail Blazers 96, LA Lakers 112 Toronto Raptors 99, Philadelphia 76ers 92 Chicago Bulls 103, Phoenix Suns 109 New Jersey Nets 117.CRICKET

THE International Cricket Council has suspended Bangladesh left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak for an illegal bowling action, pending a fresh assessment. Razzak's suspension followed an independent analysis in Australia that confirmed his bowling action was suspect under current ICC regulations. The bowling review was ordered after he was reported by umpires Daryl Harper and Asoka de Silva for a suspect action at the end of Bangladesh's home series against New Zealand in October. Razzak, who is now barred from playing international cricket, has the right to appeal. If his petition fails, he can ask for a reassessment after modifying his action.

PAKISTAN great Zaheer Abbas fears his country will be left in the international sporting wilderness if India refuse to tour in January for security reasons. "We will be like orphans in international cricketing community," said Abbas in Islamabad yesterday. "Already most of the Test-playing countries are not touring Pakistan and if India does not come it will be worst for us." India are scheduled to play three Tests, five limited-overs internationals and a Twenty20 international during their tour from 4 January to 19 February. However, there are doubts over the tour after terrorist attacks killed at least 172 in Mumbai last Wednesday. The Indian Government had earlier refused permission to their junior hockey team to play five matches in Pakistan last month due to security concerns. Australia postponed their tour to Pakistan last March, citing security concerns, and the Champions Trophy in September was also deferred for a year after four more teams – New Zealand, South Africa, England and the West Indies – expressed reservations over traveling to Pakistan. "I think the Asian countries which are part of the International Cricket Council should stand united in this hour of need and should continue playing the bilateral series," Abbas said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board is also considering an option of shifting the January series against India to a neutral venue in case. "It will set a wrong precedent and moreover it will be a huge financial loss for the PCB," Abbas said. Pakistan had earlier played Test matches against Australia and the West Indies at Colombo and Sharjah in 2002, but PCB chairman Ejaz Butt said last week the home board incurred financial losses at that time. "How could we inspire youngsters in our country if we play at a neutral venue?" Abbas, who scored 108 first-class centuries, said. "We are placed at No6 in the ICC Test rankings and the only way to improve is if we play more test matches."

SECOND TEST Adelaide: New Zealand 270 (A J Redmond 83, B Lee 4-66) & 203 (B B McCullum 84 no, B Lee 5-105); Australia 535 (B J Haddin 169, M J Clarke 110, R T Ponting 79, M E K Hussey 70). Australia won by an innings and 62 runs.CYCLING

ITALY'S Emanuele Sella yesterda received a one year-suspension for doping. Sella, the top climber in this year's Giro d'Italia, tested positive in July for a new version of the blood booster EPO in an out-of-competition control. He admitted to doping in a hearing before the Italian Olympic Committee in August. Sella received a reduced ban – rather than the standard two-year suspension – because he has been cooperating with the authorities. The committee in a statement cited the cyclist's "proactive cooperation." Sella won three mountain stages at the Giro and took the green jersey given to the best climber, finishing sixth overall.

THE Danish team, led by former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis, lost one of their main sponsors yesterday after software firm IT Factory declared bankruptcy and revealed their chief executive had embezzled $85 million. The team were previously known as CSC Saxo Bank, but were due to change their name for the 2009 season after IT Factory said they would replace CSC as a co-sponsor.EQUESTRIANISM

LEADING British three-day eventer Mary King yesterday had her Olympic horse, Call Again Cavalier, put down following a fall at the inaugural Express Eventing International Cup in Cardiff at the weekend. The 16-year-old bay gelding, with whom King won a team bronze medal in Hong Kong less than four months ago and a 2007 European Championship individual silver, suffered a broken leg after falling during the Millennium Stadium cross-country phase. Yorkshireman Oliver Townend won the 100,000 first prize – eventing's biggest individual purse – with Lucy Weigersma second and William Fox-Pitt third.FENCING

RICHARD Kruse, the London-based Scot who competed in the Beijing Olympian, led the British foil trio to victory at the European Team Championships, beating Russia in the final in Berlin on Sunday. Edward Jeffries, the Dingwall teenager now based with the British Olympic Programme in London, followed up a top-eight finish in France recently to win the FIE European Junior A Grade International Cup foil in Leszno, Poland.FORMULA ONE

LEWIS Hamilton has already started preparations for the defence of his Formula One world title – in icy isolation in Finland. Hamilton, who became the youngest world champion in F1 history just four weeks ago, is currently in the middle of a week-long intensive training camp. The 23-year-old is being tested to the limit at the Kuortane Sports Institute in western Finland, a rigorous regime that has become an annual event on the team's calendar for drivers and staff in recent years. "Travelling to Finland for our winter training camp is one of the best weeks of the year for me," insisted Hamilton. "It feels like you're miles from anywhere and totally cut off from the outside world, which allows me to focus solely on my training, which is great.

"It's certainly not an easy week as Finland in the winter is cold and icy, and we're pushed hard for day after day. We spent the first part of the week doing tests to monitor our core strength and flexibility. Then we will spend the rest of the time building on specific exercises that will help us once we're back in the car." Although McLaren are to test at Jerez and a new circuit on the Algarve this month, Hamilton is unlikely to be back behind the wheel until the new year. Given the new regulations – the re-introduction of slick tyres and radical aerodynamics – Hamilton will find the new model in complete contrast to the car in which he clinched his maiden crown.GOLF

IN THE world amateur rankings, New Zealand's Danny Lee remianed No 1, while American Mike Van Sickle moved up ten places to fourth. Top Scot is Paul O'Hara, up two places to 149.

PADRAIG Harrington has led an Irish clean sweep in the European Tour's Shot of the Year Awards. The three-time major winner took first place for his brilliant five-wood approach to the 17th green in the final round of the Open at Royal Birkdale. Harrington hit to within three feet from 249 yards and then holed for an eagle as he marched to victory for the second year in succession. Graeme McDowell came second for his seven-iron shot on the third hole of his play-off with Jeev Milkha Singh at the Ballantine's Championship in Korea, while Harrington also took third spot for his tee-shot to within eight feet at the penultimate hole of the US PGA Championship, where he claimed his second major of 2008.

WEST OF SCOTLAND ALLIANCE (West Kilbride): 63: S Gray (Hayston); 70: C Currie (Caldwell); 71: B Campbell (Vale of Leven), W R Lockie (North Gailes), M McPhee (Bishopbriggs,scr). Handicap: 66: A Wright (Kilsyth, 10); 68: G Gray (Torrance House, 15), W Houston (Torrance House, 13); 70: D Ferguson (Paisley, 1). Seniors: 71: H McCartney (Cathkin Braes, 6), H Smith (Cathkin Braes, 8).

EUROPEAN TOUR RACE TO DUBAI: Prize money in euros: 1, S Garcia (Spa) 650,383.00, 2, O Wilson (Eng) 485,617.00, 3, P Hanson (Swe) 239,548.00, 4, G Ogilvy (Aus) 219,708.00, 5, F Molinari (Ita) 170,610.00, 6, R Mcilroy (NIrl) 170,610.00, 7, H Stenson (Swe) 166,245.00, 8, R Pampling (Aus) 140,193.00, 9, A Scott (Aus) 126,830.00, 10, C Schwartzel (Rsa) 126,830.00, 11, P Larrazabal (Spa) 116,684.00, 12, R Sterne (Rsa) 96,972.00, 13, M Fraser (Aus) 93,193.00, 14, P Marksaeng (Tha) 92,488.00, 15, G McDowell (NIrl) 84,688.00, 16, A Quiros (Spa) 78,225.00, 17, J M Singh (Ind) 68,981.00, 18, W-C Liang (Chn) 68,462.00, 19, P Harrington (Irl) 67,428.00, 20, Peter Lawrie (Irl) 67,428.00.GRIDIRON

THE New England Patriots will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season at Wembley Stadium, the third straight year the NFL will stage a regular-season game in London. The NFL said yesterday the game will be played 25 October. The Bucs will be listed as the home team, giving up a game in Tampa. Five weeks ago, the New Orleans Saints beat the San Diego Chargers 37-32 at Wembley. Last season, the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins 13-10. Both games were sold out. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: "We have seen first-hand the excitement that exists for our sport in the UK."

NFL: Buffalo Bills 3 San Francisco 49ers 10, Cincinnati Bengals 3 Baltimore Ravens 34, Cleveland Browns 6 Indianapolis Colts 10, Green Bay Packers 31 Carolina Panthers 35, Minnesota Vikings 34 Chicago Bears 14, New England Patriots 10 Pittsburgh Steelers 33, New York Jets 17 Denver Broncos 34, Oakland Raiders 13 Kansas City Chiefs 20, San Diego Chargers 16 Atlanta Falcons 22, St Louis Rams 12 Miami Dolphins 16, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 New Orleans Saints 20, Washington Redskins 7 New York Giants 23.HOCKEY

FIVE Scots have been selected for Great Britain's hockey squads for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney next month. Two others are named as travelling reserves for the highly-regarded under-21 tournaments. Glasgow Western's Laura Bartlett, who played for the senior squad in the Beijing Olympics, Becky Ward of Dundee Wanderers and travelling reserve Amy Gibson of GHK, are in the women's squad, while Kelburne's Gordon McIntyre, and club colleagues Kenny Bain, and Ross Stott are heading for Melbourne along with Menzieshill's Gavin Byers. The players depart for Terrassa, Spain, in two weeks to prepare for their trip to Australia on New Year's Day.ICE HOCKEY

NHL: Atlanta Thrashers 2 St Louis Blues 4, Carolina Hurricanes 1 Anaheim Ducks 4, Dallas Stars 4 Edmonton Oilers 3, New York Rangers 0 Florida Panthers 4.SAILING

ERICSSON 4, skippered by five-time Olympic medallist Torben Grael, of Brazil, made it two wins in a row by winning the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Cape Town to Cochin, India, opening up a seven-point lead over its nearest rival Telefonica Blue. However, Grael – whose team broke the world 24-hour record for a monohull yacht in the first leg from Alicante, Spain, to Cape Town – played down his team's apparent superiority. "This race is a long way from over," he said after his team's arrival on Sunday evening. "I do not see ourselves as the team to beat at all. The second leg is the beginning of the race and there is a lot of racing to go. We have worked very hard to get where we are, but the other teams are all capable of getting results," Grael said. Telefonica Blue came second and Ericsson 4's sister yacht, Ericsson 3, finished third. Ericsson 4 has an overall score of 26 points and Telefonica Blue is on 19, followed by Ericsson 3 in third place on 14.5. The Volvo Ocean race started in Alicante and ends in St Petersburg, Russia, in June after ten legs that take the fleet around the world and six in-port regattas.TRIATHLON

LONDON will host the fifth leg of next year's inaugural World Championship Series. The best triathletes from around the world will compete in and around Hyde Park on 15-16 August. The series will reach its climax on Australia's Gold Coast in early September where the winner will pick up 1,227,069 in prizemoney. Mayor of London Boris Johnson hailed the move. "Bringing the Triathlon World Championship Series to London in 2009 is an excellent idea and an opportunity to establish Hyde Park as one of our key Olympic venues," he said. "As London builds towards 2012, the World Championship Series will showcase electrifying sporting action against an unrivalled central London backdrop."