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Lauda’s vote for China, Bahrain

Spielberg: Formula One has more to gain by racing in China and Bahrain than in Austria, according to Niki Lauda. Austria’s greatest Grand Prix driver, three-times a champion, was quoted in the race programme for what is expected to be the country’s last Grand Prix as saying that he saw no chance of Austria staging a race after 2003.

“No. It is better for F1 racing to have a race in China or the Middle East than in Austria,” he said when asked about a possible ‘miraculous return’.

“I am sorry because I have always enjoyed racing in Styria (the local region),” he added. “It is not just a cliche that the Austrian GP is different, it really is.

China and Bahrain are due to be included on the 2004 calendar and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said that this year will be Austria’s last race.

Adams doping ban reduced

Melbourne: Shooter Phillip Adams has successfully appealed for his doping ban to be reduced from two years to four weeks, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said on Thursday.

The AOC suspended Adams for two years this March after the Commonwealth Games shooter tested positive for a banned diuretic on June 26 last year while preparing for the Manchester Games. The ban was to start in June 2002 and end in June 2004, a month before the Australian Shooting Association (ASA) is required to nominate its team for the Athens Olympics.

Adams, 57, was controversially allowed to compete at the Commonwealth Games last July and August and won a silver medal. Adams appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which handed down a decision in Sydney on Wednesday to impose a four-week ban from June 26 2002. “It was a satisfactory result. The only shock was that it took eight months longer to sort itself out then it should have,” Adams said.

East Asian meet put off

Tokyo: The East Asian football championship, due to begin in Yokohama on May 28, has been postponed because of fears over SARS, tournament organisers said on Thursday.

The inaugural tournament, involving hosts Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong, was called off until further notice following a request from Yokohama City officials, the East Asian Football Federation said.

“The main point was that China and Hong Kong are among the countries the World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed as being at risk from SARS,” JFA general secretary Takeo Hirata said. The setback comes two days after Nigeria pulled out of their Kirin Cup fixture with Japan on June 11 because of fears over the virus.

India skip junior meet

New Delhi: Afraid of getting caught for doping, India have decided to skip the world junior weightlifting championships beginning in Mexico on May 29.

“Some of our best lifters have tested positive and so we are afraid that despite our best efforts if someone tests positive it will be a big shame,” said a source in the Weightlifting Federation of India.

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