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Pierce likely for Fed Cup

Metz: Mary Pierce could step in for France in their Fed Cup semi-final against Russia next month if Nathalie Dechy fails to recover from a wrist injury in time.

Captain Guy Forget said on Thursday that Dechy was still unable to practise and that he had talked to Pierce about her playing her first Fed Cup match since 1997 alongside Amelie Mauresmo.

“If she (Dechy) opts out, it would be preferable to have Mary Pierce. At Wimbledon I saw her win some good matches even though she was far from fit,” Forget said. Since then she has become much fitter. I have talked to her on the phone and she is very keen to rejoin the team.

Beckham back

Madrid: David Beckham returned to training at Real Madrid on Friday after recovering from the foot injury that kept him out of the Spanish side’s Champions League game against Porto.

Real said on their website that the former Manchester United midfielder would be fit to join the squad for Sunday’s league game at home to Espanyol. Beckham suffered injury to this right foot in Real’s 2-0 defeat by Valencia last weekend .

600 tests the target

Sydney: Drug testing has been underway for the past three months and almost 600 dope tests will have been conducted by the end of the World Cup, the International Rugby Board (IRB) said on Friday. “We’ve done 195 tests in the past three months on the 20 participating unions, so that’s about 10 tests per union,” IRB AntiDoping manager Tim Ricketts said.

“We’ve been working away and testing teams when they’ve been playing warmups,” he said. The IRB was still waiting for 15 results but that all the others had been negative.

Paula at helm

Lisbon: Britain’s Paula Radcliffe heads the field at the world half-marathon championships on Saturday on a flat course at the Portuguese beach resort of Vilamoura.

The International Association of Athletic Associations (IAAF) is preparing for fast times by setting up timing positions at the 10 km, 15 km, 20 km and full distance marks on the course. World best times will become official IAAF world records from January 1, 2004.

Radcliffe holds best times for 10 km, 20 km and the full marathon and ran the fastest ever women's half-marathon last month, though the downhill course did not count for record purposes.

Argentine pullouts

Vienna: Argentine trio Guillermo Coria, David Nalbandian and Gaston Gaudio have pulled out of next week’s CA Trophy due to injury, organisers of the Vienna indoor tournament said on Friday.

The top seeds are Juan Carlos Ferrero, defending champion Roger Federer and Carlos Moya.

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