Pro football Arena League reinstates season after...

Sports Digest

March 02, 2000

Pro football

Arena League reinstates season after declaring players formed union

The Arena Football League reinstated its 2000 season yesterday, saying most of its players have agreed to form a labor union.

However, a lawyer for players opposed to forming a union claims a majority of the players are in his camp, and vowed to pursue an antitrust lawsuit filed three weeks ago that led owners to cancel the season last week.

Neither side would disclose numbers. About 450 players are involved.

In a 1996 decision involving the NFL, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited unionized workers from filing antitrust suits.

League commissioner David Baker said training camps for about 18 teams will open March 19, as originally scheduled, and league owners will immediately begin contract negotiations with the Arena Football League Players' Organizing Committee.

The 14-week season begins April 13.

In a conference call last night, Baker said an "overwhelming majority" of the players signed cards to form a union.

"The players have spoken, the owners have responded, and it is the fans who have won," Baker said.


Rafter, Rios experience mixed results in comebacks

Former top-ranked players Patrick Rafter of Australia and Marcelo Rios of Chile made contrasting returns to ATP Tour singles action following injury layoffs.

Rafter, a two-time U.S. Open champion, beat Hernan Gumy, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), in the first round of the Citrix Tennis Championships in Delray Beach, Fla., while Rios lost to Bohdan Ulihrach at the Chevrolet Cup in Santiago, Chile.

The top-seeded Rafter, who hadn't played a singles match since tearing a rotator cuff in his right shoulder while defending his U.S. Open title in September, said he wouldn't get carried away after his 86-minute triumph.

"The conditions here are not the best for my shoulder. The courts are slow and it's quite windy," said Rafter, 27. "But if I can get through here I can get through any tournament."

Rios, seeded second in his hometown, wasn't successful on his comeback following surgery on both legs Nov. 10.

"There is nothing to be worried about," Rios said after his 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) defeat. "It's different practicing to playing a match."

Et cetera

American, Australian swimmers lose doping appeal

Drug-testing methods questioned by Americans and Australians were upheld by swimming's world governing body.

American Lenny Krayzelburg and Australian Ian Thorpe, both of whom set world records at a short-course meet last month in Berlin, said they were ordered to provide urine samples in what they said were non-tamperproof containers.

After several hours of delays, German swim officials called in police to seal the sample bottles in bags. Australian officials still complained that the samples were not secure.

FINA, the governing body, issued a statement saying it examined written reports from Thorpe, Krayzelburg, Australian coach Don Talbot and American coach John Skinner and determined that "no violation" of doping control rules had taken place.

Ruling that "no action needs to be taken," FINA chastised the Australians and Americans.

Soccer: FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he can't guarantee that wealthy European soccer clubs will release their best players to compete in the Sydney Olympics.

Blatter, commenting after a meeting in Switzerland with International Olympic Committee chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch, said teams are afraid of giving a competitive advantage to rivals who haven't given up players.

The Sept. 15-Oct. 1 Games could keep players away for almost a month when the European leagues are in full swing. Several clubs have called for competitions to be suspended during this period. Some have talked of refusing to allow players to attend the Games.

Jurisprudence: A judge in Gainesville, Fla., ordered a bond hearing for an associate of indicted sports agent Tank Black after the government found evidence of a bank account in Linda Wilson's name from which $250,000 had been withdrawn in the past week. U.S. Magistrate Gary R. Jones ordered Wilson held pending a detention hearing today.

Wilson, Black and three others are charged with fraud and money laundering in a federal indictment. They are accused of scamming about a dozen NFL players of millions of dollars through schemes and bogus investments.

Basketball: Former Harlem Globetrotter Tommy "Cochise" Brown was arrested and charged with fraud in Tampa, Fla., in connection with his youth basketball league.

College football: Former Southern Methodist University All-American football player Emanuel Tolbert, 41, has been arrested in Little Rock, Ark., on warrants alleging he had sexual contact with female students while working as a substitute teacher.

The quiz

Get out of Denver

New Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe leaves the Denver Broncos with 44 touchdown receptions, tied for the team record with two other players. Name them. (Answer, 5C)

Quiz answer

Haven Moses and Lionel Taylor.

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