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United in talks with Ferdinand

London: Manchester United have begun talks with Rio Ferdinand about a new contract for the England defender, who is serving an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test.

“We have been discussing a new deal with Rio, although it is still at the very early stages at the moment,” coach Alex Ferguson told the Premier League club’s website on Saturday.

Ferdinand signed a five-year deal with United when he became the world’s most expensive defender for the second time in a £ 30 million move from Leeds United in 2002.

The 25-year-old England international was banned after missing a routine drugs test at United’s training ground in September and will not return to action until September 2004, having started the suspension in January.

His absence has coincided with a sharp dip in United's form, which ended their Champions League campaign and their hopes of retaining their domestic title. “His form for us has been fantastic and you do not realise how good a player he is until he is not there,” Ferguson said.

Rivaldo’s Tuesday date

London: Bolton Wanderers hope Brazil’s Rivaldo will accept by Tuesday to join them in the Premier League, coach Sam Allardyce said.

“We are still talking and hopefully in the next 48 hours he will tell us yes or no,” Allardyce told Bolton’s website.

Former Barcelona and AC Milan striker Rivaldo, 32, is a free agent after leaving Brazil’s Cruzeiro at the end of February and is in England discussing a deal with Bolton.

“Hopefully, we’ll sort out all the (out of contract) players here before the end of the season,” added Allardyce.

Fan falls to death

Rome: A soccer fan has died after falling from the third and highest tier of Milan’s San Siro stadium at the end of Inter Milan’s goalless draw with Lazio in Serie A, Italian police said Sunday. Police said the fan, a man in his mid-twenties, had left a note in his seat, but would not disclose its contents.

Last November a 54-year-old man committed suicide by throwing himself off the second tier of the stadium during a game between Inter and Ancona. Two seasons ago an Inter fan nearly died after slipping from the second tier while celebrating a goal in a Uefa Cup match against AEK Athens.

Maurice pulls out, Tim best

Fort de France (Martinique): America’s 100m world record holder Tim Montgomery won the 100m here at the Grand Prix II meeting on Saturday as Olympic champion Maurice Greene failed to contest the final because of an injury.

Elsewhere America’s 400m hurdles world silver medallist Sandra Glover ran a world best for the season, 55.00 sec, just days after receiving a warning from her domestic anti-doping agency for testing positive for the stimulant Modafinil in last year’s world championship trials.

The spectators, though, were left disappointed as Greene failed to turn up for the final after winning like Montgomery his heat.

Montgomery made no mistake in the final, vastly improving his best time of the season running 10.08, though Greene still holds the fastest time of the year in 10.02 run at Walnut on April 19.

Marion Jones anchors wins

Philadelphia: Triple Olympic champion Marion Jones anchored two US relay teams to victory at the Penn relays on Saturday.

On the track Jones looked sharper than she had last week at the Mt Sac relays in California, her first outdoor competition since she gave birth to her first child last June.

“I do feel a little improvement,” Jones said. “I ran a little smarter than last week.”

In her first race of the day, Jones and teammates Angela Daigle, Chryste Gaines and Inger Miller grabbed an american victory in 42.63 in the 4x100m event in the US versus Rest of the World series of relays.

Sport on Screen

Tennis: Monte Carlo Masters from 10 am on STAR Sports
Cricket: ICC World, episode 14 from 7 pm on TEN Sports
Soccer: Premier League highlights from 7 pm on ESPN

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