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World meet new dates

London: The world badminton championships in Birmingham, postponed last month because of concerns over SARS, have been re-scheduled for July 28-August 3

The championships were to have been held from May 12-18 but were called off by the International Badminton Federation’s executive board.

On Tuesday, organisers of next month’s Singapore and Indonesian Opens and the Malaysian Open, set for July 1-6, asked for their tournaments to be put back to August amid continued nervousness over SARS.

Meanwhile, Abhinn Shyam Gupta and Nikhil Kanetkar will lead India’s challenge in Birmingham. Aparna Popat will represent the women.

V Diju/Sanave Thomas and Jaseel P Ismail/Jaison Xavier, and Jwala Gutta/Shruti Kurien will lead India in the men’s and women’s doubles, respectively.

Ulihrach appeals against ban

Lausanne: Czech Bohdan Ulihrach has appealed against his two-year ban for doping, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Friday. “Bohdan Ulihrach has filed an appeal ... requesting the annulment of the decision pronounced by the Anti-doping tribunal of the ATP Tour on 1 May 2003,” the CAS said in a statement. The former Czech number one was suspended three weeks ago after testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone at the Moscow meet last October.

The ban was dated back to October 26, 2002, when Ulihrach played his last match and runs until October 25, 2004.

Apology for Eldine Baptiste

London: Former West Indies paceman Eldine Baptiste has received an apology from Britain’s Customs and Excise service after he was held in custody for three days on suspicion of drug smuggling. Baptiste, 43, was stopped by customs officers at Gatwick Airport on Sunday on his way to South Africa.

In a statement released on Friday, the Customs and Excise service said Baptiste had been cleared and a full investigation was being held.

“Tests on golf balls that were in Mr Baptiste’s possession gave a positive reading for a controlled substance more than once,” the statement said. “However, in-depth forensic tests later confirmed that no controlled substance was present.”

Genetic doping

Stockholm: Genetic doping is likely to become a reality in the near future, but so will methods to catch athletes who cheat by altering their genes, leading anti-doping officials said on Thursday. Athletes are likely to adopt genetic technologies being developed to treat diseases within 10 years, said Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission, at the start of a two-day conference on genetic doping here.

Scientists believe emerging technologies will let athletes manipulate their genes to increase the body’s muscle mass, or make blood cells replenish faster.

Blood and urine tests used today to track performance-enhancing drugs cannot detect genetic doping, but new methods are being developed to deal with the problem, he said.

United, Lisbon in formal link-up

Manchester: Manchester United and Sporting Lisbon have agreed a formal link-up, the English champions announced on Friday.

The clubs will exchange players and scouting information and join together to develop young talent through the co-operation agreement.

United will also travel to Lisbon to play a friendly against Sporting on August 6 to mark the opening of their new 52,000-seat Jose Alvalade Stadium, one of the venues for the 2004 European championship finals.

United have similar links with Antwerp of Belgium, Brommapojkarna of Sweden, Shelbourne of Ireland, Parramatta Melita Eagles of Australia and Oslo East of Norway.

n Cricket, Zimbabwe in England: First Test, Day III, live from 3.12 pm on ESPN n Cricket, Australia in West Indies: Fourth ODI, live from 7.00pm on STAR Sports n Soccer, Spanish League: Live from 1.00 am (Sunday) on ESPN

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