SPORTS NEWS IN BRIEF
AUCKLAND - Player "recovery practices", including the possible misuse of prescription drugs, are under scrutiny in an NZRL review into the Kiwis' unsuccessful defence of the Rugby League World Cup. Chief executive Phil Holden says that aspect is part of a overall debrief of the campaign, which ended in a 34-2 defeat to Australia in last month's final in Manchester.
MOSCOW - Russia's sports minister on Saturday played down the host's chances at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi following a bitterly disappointing 2010 performance in Vancouver. The Soviet-era winter sports superpower managed just three gold medals in Canada — a finish that left it lagging in 11th place on the medals table and prompted an overhaul of the entire Olympic federation.
MELBOURNE - After a record of just eight wins from 39 games, Melbourne Heart have reportedly lost patience with coach John Aloisi. News Corp reports the former player was sacked after a lengthy board meeting on Saturday, two years into a three-year deal. No club officials returned calls seeking confirmation of the sacking.
HOBART - Tough weather has begun taking its toll in the Sydney to Hobart with one boat dismasted and three more out of the race. Forty knot southwesterly gales hit the fleet on Saturday night and will continue to make for a torrid run home for the 80 boats still at sea.
MELBOURNE - Gui Finkler denied Western Sydney Wanderers a win with a stunning strike in the dying seconds at AAMI Park on Saturday night as Melbourne Victory claimed a 1-1 draw. The Brazilian magician curled a free kick past Ante Covic into the top corner, cancelling out Brendon Santalab's 71st minute opener to ensure both sides shared the spoils in a pulsating A-League clash.
ABU DHABI - Cricket's governing body on Friday furthered its process of improving the much-debated Decision Review System (DRS) by providing direct replays to a non-match umpire, a trial also experimented earlier this year. To improve umpiring decision in international matches, the ICC introduced the Decision Review System (DRS) in 2008 on a trial basis.
NEW DELHI - India's cricket chiefs on Saturday vowed to enforce a life-long ban on Lalit Modi after the disgraced Indian Premier League founder contested elections for a state association in absentia. Modi, who lives in self-exile in London with his passport revoked by the Indian government on corruption charges, had contested for the post of president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) on December 19.
ARLINGTON, Texas - South Korean outfielder Choo Shin-Soo has signed a seven-year contract worth $US130million ($F247m) with Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers. The 31-year-old Asian star signed the largest free agent deal in Rangers history, surpassed only by the team's 10-year deal worth $US252m ($F479m) to Alex Rodriguez in December of 2000.