S Africa denies Smith threat
JOHANNESBURG (AP):South Africa's cricket board made the unusual move yesterday of denying social media comments that captain Graeme Smith threatened to quit if black wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile was picked for the Test series against India.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) said it "would like to quash rumours and comments floating around" that Smith had given selectors an ultimatum before the first Test. CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat added "there is no truth at all to these malicious and damaging comments".
Tsolekile, who was not chosen to play in the first Test, has become relevant to South Africa's struggle to include more black players in national teams after he was overlooked on the tour to England last year when Mark Boucher was injured despite being the backup wicketkeeper. A report on transformation in South African sport is due next month, with cricket and rugby both admitting there aren't enough black players at the top level.
Bahamas to install new track for World Relays
NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC):The Bahamas government plans to install a new track at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium for the inaugural World Relays in 2014. The World Relays are set for May 24-25 in Nassau, but the track at the main stadium is not Class One certified, which is required to host such a global event.
There are more than 200 member federations of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and quite a number of them will be represented at the World Relays.
A total of eight World Championship spots in the sprint and mile relays, in each gender, will be up for grabs as it was recently confirmed that the top eight will qualify for the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
Leverkusen, Dortmund lose
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP):Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund both lost in the Bundesliga yesterday, leaving Bayern Munich the biggest beneficiary even though the defending champions weren't even in the country. With Bayern playing the Club World Cup final in Morocco, Leverkusen and Dortmund could have gained some ground on the undefeated leaders.
But Leverkusen went down 1-0 at Werder Bremen and Dortmund lost 2-1 at home to Hertha Berlin, leaving Bayern seven points ahead of Leverkusen and 12 ahead of Dortmund, with one match in hand.
Elsewhere on the final day before the winter break, Shinji Okazaki scored twice for Mainz to win 3-2 in Hamburg, Eintracht Braunschweig edged Hoffenheim 1-0 and Freiburg beat Hannover 2-1. In the late match, Nuremberg drew 0-0 with Schalke to remain winless in the first half of the season.
Bale hurt, to miss Madrid's trip to Valencia
MADRID (AP):Real Madrid says forward Gareth Bale will miss today's Spanish league match at Valencia as he recovers from a leg injury. Bale had been expected back after missing Madrid's win in the Copa del Rey this week with a leg knock.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says Bale's injury "isn't important, but he isn't available for Valencia because he hasn't had enough time to recover".
Third-placed Madrid will also be without defender Pepe, who is serving a one-game suspension.