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Ottman Azaitar: Unbeaten Moroccan star KICKED OUT of UFC on the eve of UFC 257 after BREAKING safety protocols on Fight Island

A guy taped them, showed up here with a bag, went into a room and shimmied across four balconies and into Ottman’s room, dropped a bag off, changed his clothes and then left.”Azaitar’s lax attitude to the safety zone on Fight Island has cost him dear, with the unbeaten Moroccan losing his career on the big stage.His scheduled opponent, Frevola, will now take on Armen Tsarukyan after Tsarukyan’s opposite number, Nasrat Haqparast, was taken ill on weigh-in day. Suspicions were raised about Azaitar’s participation during the official weigh-ins, where it became apparent that he would not be weighing in for his scheduled fight with American Matt Frevola.And a few hours after the weigh-ins had been completed, UFC president Dana White revealed to Abu Dhabi Sports reporter Farah Hannoun that the UFC had taken the decisive step of not just removing Azaitar from the fight card, but cutting him from the UFC roster altogether.Hannoun explained the situation in a pair of tweets, as it became apparent that Azaitar’s indiscretion wasn’t just a routine weigh-in mishap. Follow RT on

Undefeated Moroccan lightweight Ottman Azaitar has incredibly been cut by the UFC just one day before he was due to fight at UFC 257 on Fight Island. Also on rt.com
‘Championship weight!’ Conor McGregor makes a point as he makes weight for Dustin Poirier bout at UFC 257 (VIDEO) View this post on InstagramA post shared by RT Sport (@rtsportnews)”Dana White tells me that as a result of Ottman Azaitar violating the safety protocols, he has been cut from the UFC,” she began.”White tells me Azaitar and his team cut their wristbands and handed them to others outside of the safe zone that snuck past the security members and everything was caught on camera.”White gave more detail to BT Sport, saying “They gave their wristbands to people outside the bubble.

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Branding Novak Djokovic a ‘tool’ for daring to discuss player welfare at the Australian Open is unfair and at odds with reality

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The world number one could have saved himself a slating by not raising seemingly valid points about how to make life easier for players. Also on rt.com
‘Get your act together’: Conor McGregor slams Novak Djokovic and whinging Australian Open tennis stars over quarantine complaints

Then there was more controversy around a fresh tantrum in Rome, accusations of divisiveness as he discussed a new players’ union and, this week, a new scandal after he was said to have made diva-style demands of Australian Open boss Craig Tilley, igniting sensitivities around Covid-19 measures and unleashing an unedifying row about the supposed disconnect between top players and the rest of the world.Two stars with less right than most to the moral high ground, UFC provocateur Conor McGregor and tennis trash-talker Nick Kyrgios, swooped in to take aim – McGregor arguing that players should be pleased they can play at all, Kyrgios labeling Djokovic a “tool” in a predictably antagonistic missive.While Djokovic’s adoring fans defended him, even his most ardent of followers must occasionally wish the Serb hero would avoid putting his head above the parapet so often – if only because of the sheer volume of scattergun abuse he receives whenever he does. Also on rt.com
Kazakh tennis star Putintseva asked to stop ‘feeding the mouse’ after second incident in Australian Open hotel lockdown (VIDEO)

The reality might not be a headline writer’s dream, but those do not resemble an unreasonable list of topics as part of an entirely sensible attempt to take a well-rounded view of player welfare.”I was aware that the chances were low that any of our suggestions would be accepted,” added Djokovic, sounding increasingly like a man who wished he had simply continued training rather than dared to engage in conversation with organizers adjusting to a year like no other at the tournament.It seems all the more justified given the faintly farcical stories emerging from several players in the far than ideal accommodation provided this week. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Australian Open (@australianopen)Djokovic is, by now, as easy a target as a ball dropping gently from the sky in front of a court left open by a generously indifferent opponent.As the former head of the ATP player council and the most prominent player at the tournament, though, why should it be such a scandal for him to at least explore whether the best interests of his fellow professionals are being met?A look at the list of points up for discussion hardly yields a whirlwind of extravagances. There are more important things in life.”The bittersweet glaze that those sentiments have been given by a year that Djokovic could never have predicted in his wildest visions makes them seem almost prescient now.The frivolity of his Adria Tour during a pandemic the world was still learning about gave way to sorrow and scathing words as the tournament brought about brutal consequences, leaving his detractors to gleefully pounce when he was abruptly ousted from the US Open in an incident that will inevitably become iconic in tennis history. Of all the imperfect moves he makes, looking out for his peers is not one he should be berated for.By Ben Miller

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‘We need fresh air to breathe’: Kazakh ace Putintseva protests strict hotel lockdown ahead of Australian Open Also on rt.com
‘I genuinely care about my fellow players’: Tennis No1 Novak Djokovic hits back at critics to defend his Australian Open ‘demands’

“Stay close to the people who love you. Also on rt.com
‘We need fresh air to breathe’: Kazakh ace Putintseva protests strict hotel lockdown ahead of Australian Open

On Tuesday, Roberto Bautista Agut described the conditions as “jail but with WiFi” and spoke of the mental test it was providing him with.The world number 13 later apologized for the comments, and Kazakh star Yulia Putintseva even held up a board appealing for players to be allowed more air.Others have been pictured working out by lifting chairs and hitting balls against mattresses and walls. Humor, for many, is a way around the saga, but there should be no shame in elite athletes feeling frustrated by such limitations, and there is no harm in Djokovic asking some of the questions he claims they have posed in a group chat. Also on rt.com
Quarantine craziness: Australian Open stars forced into BIZARRE practice routines as they isolate ahead of tournament (VIDEO)

Looking back now, the furore around last year’s final encapsulated Djokovic. He had appeared to tell the crowd to “shut the f*ck up” before his post-match plea for unity, and later apologized for touching the umpire’s foot and telling him that he had made himself “famous” for punishing him over a time violation.When he shouted and broke a racket in Rome, he admitted that he would “probably do it again”, explained that it was a release of anger and encouraged young players not to follow his lead, concluding: “Of course, I’m not perfect and I’m doing my best.”Djokovic knows that a backlash is the price he pays for wearing his heart on his sleeve. They included the possibilities of proper food, reducing days in isolation via more testing, permission to visit a coach after a negative test, allowing players and coaches to be on the same hotel floor and moving players to private houses with a tennis court. Some of their experiences so far show that he was, at least, entitled to ask questions. As the anniversary of Novak Djokovic’s emotional win at the 2020 Australian Open approaches, his words on the day and experience out on Melbourne Park seem as distant as the prospect of packed crowds around the Rod Laver Arena in this strangely straitjacketed version of the showpiece that is about to begin.Basking in the adulation of edging past Roger Federer’s total of 19 to claim the most Grand Slams ever won by a male player, Djokovic spoke movingly of an upbringing – “I came from literally nothing,” he said – that had helped him to find an extra gear in a grueling final against Dominic Thiem.”This is a reminder that we should stick together more than ever,” Djokovic implored in his winning speech, telling 15,000 people and the watching world of his heartache at the horrifying Australian bushfires while paying tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant days after the tragic death of his friend. Also on rt.com
‘Djokovic is a tool’: Nick Kyrgios slams complaints from quarantining stars as Tomic’s girlfriend is forced to ‘wash own hair’

True to form, a dismayed Djokovic then produced a lengthy response to his latest round of rebukes, essentially saying that he had drawn upon his experiences as a lower-ranked player to drive himself on and make a well-intentioned plea for their welfare now that he has, as he accepted, “privilege”.As is so often the case with stories chiefly circulated by the faux-outraged, the nuances of the discussion were lost.Most notably, Djokovic’s exchange with Tilley was described as a list of “demands” – and there is a chasmic difference between that assessment and, as Djokovic describes it, an email suggesting some measures that could make life easier for players.

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‘Who did this?’ Tennis queen Naomi Osaka pokes fun at herself with Bernie Sanders meme on Twitter after backing Biden inauguration

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Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has proved she has a sense of humor ahead of the Australian Open, laughing at a tweet featuring herself as part of the Bernie Sanders meme which has gone viral since Joe Biden’s inauguration. Also on rt.com
‘I genuinely care about my fellow players’: Tennis No1 Novak Djokovic hits back at critics to defend his Australian Open ‘demands’ The photo of politician Sanders looking grumpy and reserved at the presidential ceremony has become a social media hit, with many users joking that he fully reflects a typical New York City mood, especially in winter time.After the photo emerged online, internet jokers started posting images of Sanders edited into different scenes, including streets, subways and even at a chess board in Washington Square Park.One of the edited pictures attracted the attention of three-time Grand Slam winner Osaka, who found the viral meme inserted into a picture from one of her games.who did this??? 💀😩😭 pic.twitter.com/N3o7Gq4w2g— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) January 22, 2021He is all over internet, a speedy guy! pic.twitter.com/ZuA8kpG7d0— Tobbe H-son 🇸🇪🇨🇮🍻 (@Tobbe_Hahnsson) January 22, 2021NYC Instagram is so quick pic.twitter.com/Br6TarGXXb— Rania Said (@rania_tn) January 20, 2021Sanders is seen sitting on a chair, with Osaka lying on the court.“Who did this?” Osaka asked, poking fun at the tweet which she shared on her page.pic.twitter.com/upaNCsdMoN— Tsushi12 (@SushiKiroFR) January 20, 2021pic.twitter.com/pSkS1XhAwz— l3 |_ / C K |-| / T (@failedsecdotcom) January 22, 2021Osaka had expressed her happiness with Biden’s election and posted on her Instagram story the moment Kamala Harris, current vice president of the United States, received congratulations with former president Barack Obama looking on.The 2019 champion is currently preparing for the season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne, which is set to begin on February 8.

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‘Championship weight!’ Conor McGregor makes a point as he makes weight for Dustin Poirier bout at UFC 257 (VIDEO)

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Make or break: Conor McGregor may have to dance to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s tune if he is to rematch the UFC lightweight champion McGregor was the first man to step on the scale during Friday’s official weigh-in session in Abu Dhabi and, despite needing to weigh no more than 156 pounds, he delivered a statement by tipping the scale at a trim 155 pounds, which equates to the maximum allowable weight for a UFC lightweight title matchup.Raising a finger to the skies, McGregor declared, “That’s 155. Championship weight!” before stepping off the scale and departing the scene.McGregor’s appearance was swiftly followed by his opponent, as Poirier arrived and made weight with ease, coming in on the non-title limit of 156 pounds.The other two lightweight contenders set for action also had no problem making weight, as New Zealand’s Dan Hooker and America’s Michael Chandler both successfully hit their marks ahead of their co-main event clash.But all eyes will be on the main event, as McGregor returns looking to score a dominant victory over Poirier and, potentially, secure a blockbuster rematch with his nemesis, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Follow RT on

Conor McGregor arrived in prime shape as he made championship weight for his non-title bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257.

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‘Sad day for women’s sports’: Row erupts after Joe Biden signs gender discrimination order paving way for transgender athletes

We women may as well just give up.— Rosie (@RVPearce) January 22, 2021“Sad day for women’s sports,” wrote one. “Women must compete against biological males at the risk of injury and loss of title, thanks to a new Biden executive order. Biden has posted his executive order regarding Gender Identity, it states (in context of "no matter their gender identity"):"Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or _school sports_" pic.twitter.com/KRHSKzG0nr— boysvswomen.com (@boysvswomen) January 21, 2021Sad day for women’s sports. Make it fair and have trans vs trans.— Antonio (@tonygoboomboom) January 21, 2021NGL I don't think its a good idea to have biological males competing with biological females regardless of what they identify as— CountDrunkwizard (@JBandimere) January 21, 2021Give them their own games. Allowing this undermines the entire reason for women having their own sports. It’s destructive and malicious.— Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) January 21, 2021I don’t know how to feel about Biden’s executive order on transgender females playing in female sports. Women must compete against biological males at the risk of injury and loss of title, thanks to a new Biden executive order. You cannot deny biology. They may wanna be women but their hormones scream male as does their strength. Don’t ever tell me this is “pro-woman.” It’s not. It’s destructive and malicious.”“I don’t know how to feel about Biden’s executive order on transgender females playing in female sports. Biden proudly signed dozens of new orders during his first day in office, including one on gender discrimination which many believe will oblige colleges to approve transgender athletes for women’s sports.Titled “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation”, the order allows athletes to compete in high school and college sports in accordance with their gender identity, not biological sex.“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” it states.Pres. It seems like a disadvantage.— MeowMeow (@katbutterfliess) January 22, 2021“It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”The order sparked outrage on social media, with many saying the influx of transgender athletes will ruin women’s sports.While LGBT activists praised Biden’s decision to battle discrimination, critics said public schools will now be afraid of losing funding if they do not allow transgender female athletes to compete in girls’ sports.Transgendered people should not be competing in competitive sports with the real men and women. It seems like a disadvantage,” another tweeted.“I don’t think its a good idea to have biological males competing with biological females regardless of what they identify as,” read one comment, while another said: “If you had a daughter competing in sports who wants to get a college scholarship, you might see the other side.”

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Biden’s executive order that prioritises transgender people is a DISASTER for ordinary women and girls across America It’s not fair. Don’t ever tell me this is ‘pro-woman.’ It’s not. Follow RT on

US President Joe Biden’s newly-signed executive order on “combating discrimination” has sparked controversy among many critics, who say it will destroy women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes to participate.

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‘Keep the same energy’: NBA star Jaylen Brown says the fight for social justice continues, despite Trump’s White House departure

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‘I’m all for it’: Five-time NBA champ Gregg Popovich hails Trump impeachment before blaming ‘wack jobs’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’

“I would like to challenge that. People still need to make phone calls and so on. But I definitely want to keep the same energy up in terms of having the awareness and pushing forward for change.”We gotta keep the same energy up. So I’m looking forward to continuing to fight for change.”

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Sporting world continues presidential pile-on as NFL icon Bill Belichick refuses Trump award over ‘values, freedoms and democracy’ It’s more about the system, I think, that needs to be changed,” he explained.”I know there was a lot of stress attached to our former president, potentially. We still have a lot of work to do, regardless of if Biden is in office or not.”Just because we have a new President, doesn’t mean the system doesn’t need to be changed.”Biden replaced Trump in the White House on January 20, sparking scenes of celebration across America. Boston Celtics guard and forward Brown has seen the outpouring of positivity and relief following Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, and said that people mustn’t fall into a false sense of security regarding the battle against social justice.Speaking to TMZ Sports, Brown said it’s crucial that people keep the pressure on, even though they are now aiming their concerns at a new administration.”I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I think now having a new face [in the White House], people are taking their foot off the gas, thinking that everything is okay now,” said Brown. But as Brown explained, there is still much to repair and be addressed now the new administration is in place. Follow RT on

NBA star Jaylen Brown has warned that just because there’s a different man in the White House, the battle for social justice is far from over. People still gotta care. Also on rt.com
‘Privileged AF’: Fans fume after reports NBA star Kyrie Irving missed games because he was ‘upset’ over Capitol disorder

“My dilemma was never with any presidencies or selections of different faces.

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‘It was tough to find moments of inspiration’: Maria Sharapova explains ending her tennis career after ‘incredibly difficult’ ban

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‘I still love you’: Russian tennis superstar Sharapova smiles on sun-swept California beach in spite of ‘very different Christmas’ Also on rt.com
Perfect match: Maria Sharapova announces engagement to millionaire UK art dealer

“You have to work hard for what you earn and, especially in America, nothing comes for free.”Last year, Sharapova retired from professional sports, having missed a major part of the 2019 season due to the injury.She announced her engagement to millionaire UK art dealer Alexander Gilkes in December, and was reported earlier this week to have received a ring worth around $410,000 to mark the celebration. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova)“Every single morning, even if I was on vacation or on my break, I knew that in a few weeks’ time I would be competing somewhere around the world.”To wake up for that period of time and to go through arbitration and not practicing and not keeping my body in that toned shape, that mindset – it’s interesting because, as an athlete, it’s so automatic and we feel like we’re at the top of our game all the time.”But it’s so difficult to maintain that and it’s so easy to lose that. The five-time Grand Slam winner has spoken about her shock doping ban which kept her out of the sport for more than a year, confessed that it seriously affected her mindset and physical shape.Sharapova served a 15-month suspension for taking the prohibited substance meldonium before returning to tennis in 2017 – by which point, she has admitted, she had expected to have almost retired from the game she excelled at.“It was incredibly difficult realizing that a sport I had played since I was four years old was taken away from me for that amount of time,” she told the “Skimm’d from the Couch” podcast. the more money you’ll have in the account,” she added. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova)”I never thought I’d be playing past 30 years old, so in my mind I was trying to find those moments that would keep me going, that would keep my body going. That was the toughest part – trying to find those moments of inspiration.”Business-savvy Sharapova reflected that her exceptional tennis career gave her “little upgrades in life”.“I knew that with accomplishments and victories… Follow RT on

Russian former world number one tennis player Maria Sharapova has opened up about her reasons for retiring, explaining that injuries and her doping ban made it difficult to find “moments of inspiration” that would “keep me going”. Even if it’s just a week or two weeks, it takes the same amount of time to get that back.” View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova)Sharapova managed to win a WTA title in Tianjin and reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros before her career was interrupted again by a second shoulder surgery.She said that she realized that she was approaching the end of her sporting career after sustaining the second injury.“I had shoulder surgery and another shoulder injury by that time, so I knew that I was closer to the end of my career than the beginning.

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Ring craft: Boxing great Floyd Mayweather dismisses ‘rumors and lies’ over ‘engagement’ to lead dancer Anna at strip club he owns

(@thereal.annamonroe)No foul play was suspected in the tragedy, which happened in Los Angeles County.Mayweather and Harris were an item between 1995 and 2010, when “Money” served two months in prison after being convicted of domestic violence against her. (@thereal.annamonroe)In one of her scantily-clad Instagram photos, Monroe showed her expensive taste by captioning the snap “very $elective”.Multi-millionaire Mayweather’s ex-girlfriend and mother of his three children, Josie Harris, was found dead in her car outside her home by police in California in March 2020. Those are just rumors and lies.”Floyd is thought to have been seeing Monroe for “months” and shared photos of themselves in exactly the same spots in a wide range of exotic locations ranging from a lagoon spa in Iceland to Abu Dhabi. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monroe 💋. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monroe 💋. (@thereal.annamonroe)Love at first lap dance.— Thomas Ryan (@tpryan56_ryan) January 21, 2021Plays *I’m in Love With a Stripper*— David Andre Robbins (@Daveforthelawl) January 21, 2021According to The Sun, Monroe – who describes herself as “very rare” and models for magazines – was invited to a candlelit dinner with Mayweather after being spotted by the superstar boxer on her way out after she was turned down when she initially applied for a job at the club.Mayweather then reportedly made Monroe his lead girl at the hotspot, which calls itself “the number one gentleman’s club in Las Vegas”. (@thereal.annamonroe)Floyd's thoughts on this story pic.twitter.com/tkux8tC3JI— FIGHTNEWZ- OldFightDegenerate (@ceohannibal1) January 21, 2021At least she's the lead dancer. (@thereal.annamonroe) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monroe 💋. (@thereal.annamonroe) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monroe 💋. Also on rt.com
‘Championship weight!’ Conor McGregor makes a point as he makes weight for Dustin Poirier bout at UFC 257 (VIDEO) (@thereal.annamonroe) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monroe 💋. (@thereal.annamonroe) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monroe 💋. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monroe 💋. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monroe 💋. It would be embarrassing for Floyd to marry a dancer who wasn't the champ.— MakeStonksZimbabweAgain (@MakeStonks) January 21, 2021Attempting to land a knockout blow on the news, Mayweather announced on his social media: “I’m not engaged and have never been engaged or married. The unbeaten 43-year-old flatly denied a string of stories that he had proposed to Anna Monroe, who is 14 years his junior, at the weekend.Glamorous blonde Monroe shared snaps of herself on Instagram that appeared to show her wearing an eye-catching engagement ring, creating a media frenzy around the couple who are said to have met at Floyd’s club, Girl Collection. Follow RT on

Boxing playboy Floyd Mayweather has trashed widespread reports that he will marry his stripper girlfriend after she was pictured with a huge ring on her finger, insisting on Instagram that he has “never been engaged or married”.

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‘The virus only works in a hotel room’: Alex Ovechkin’s model wife mocks NHL by seething that ‘only Russians’ broke Covid-19 rules

The virus only works in a hotel room.”The Capitals were fined $100,000 for the violation. She says Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov have covid-19 antibodies. pic.twitter.com/ZzxaisAFvW— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) January 21, 2021 View this post on InstagramA post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya)“Right now, the players are in quarantine, and at this point I believe it’s four games and then under review, and so we’ll go from there,” the coach said on Thursday.“There will probably be an announcement at some point. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya)”Of course, you can’t catch the virus when you and your teammates sit together on the bench, hug each other when they score a goal, or when they are all together in the lounge or locker room.”Players can’t get infected when they are at the restaurants, supermarkets, malls, etc. In a statement released on Wednesday, Ovechkin took responsibility for his actions, saying that he would “learn from this experience.”“I regret my choice to spend time together with my teammates in our hotel room and away from the locker room areas,” he said. The Caps captain and three of his teammates – Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov – were placed into quarantine and will miss at least four games.The Russians were reportedly together in a hotel room without wearing face masks, violating the league’s Covid-19 rules requiring all players to stay alone in a single room with no guests allowed.Later the Capitals’ Peter Laviolette revealed that one of the four players tested positive, sending three other teammates into obligatory isolation.Alex Ovechkin’s wife, Nastya, posted this on Instagram just now. Also on rt.com
‘Straight bullsh*t’: Fans blast NHL as Alex Ovechkin is one of four Russian aces punished alongside $100k fine for Covid-19 breach Follow RT on

Alexander Ovechkin’s wife, Anastasia Shubskaya, has spoken out in defense of the Russian Washington Capitals players who have been punished for breaching Covid-19 protocols, lambasting the NHL hours after her husband apologized. But I believe we’re looking at that, and we’ll look at everything,” he added. He hasn’t named the player who contracted the virus, but according to multiple reports it is the team’s goalkeeper, Samsonov, who was asymptomatic by the time the test was conducted.pic.twitter.com/8RYGk9x2lu— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 21, 2021Glamorous Shubskaya has fired back at the league’s Covid-19 restrictions, pointing out that all players remain in close contact during games and in their locker room.“Of course, only Russian players of the Washington Capitals were together in the same hotel room,” Shubskaya wrote in what appeared to be a sarcastic summary.“Of course, all of the other NHL players, when playing away, separate themselves from their teammates.

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Corona blow for Zizou: Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane tests POSITIVE for COVID-19

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Real Madrid head coach and French football legend Zinedine Zidane is the latest big name from sport to announce that he has tested positive for coronavirus. Real Madrid confirmed the news in an official statement on Friday, with the statement simply saying: “Real Madrid announces its coach Zinedine Zidane has tested positive for COVID-19.”The coach, who famously scored twice in the final to help fire France to World Cup glory on home soil in 1998, had already been isolating earlier in January after being identified as a close contact of someone who had tested positive.It meant that he missed a team training session, but at the time there were no issues over Zidane’s own condition. Also on rt.com
Knockout blow: Zidane raises a wry smile as Real Madrid suffer cup humiliation – then insists shock exit is ‘not a shame’ (VIDEO) Also on rt.com
‘PSG told me they will make a great team with me and Messi’: Real Madrid ace Sergio Ramos stokes rumor mill as he REJECTS new deal

However, his positive test now changes that fact, and he will miss his side’s Liga clash at Alaves on Saturday, which follows his position coming under increasing pressure following a shock elimination to Spanish third division side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey earlier in the week.The Spanish giants also sit in second place in La Liga, seven points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand.Zidane’s assistant, David Bettoni, will take charge of the team at Alaves.The news of Zidane’s positive test follows on the heels of positive tests for midfielders Eden Hazard and Casemiro and defender Eder Militao, who all tested positive earlier in the campaign.

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‘We’re having a right laugh’: From TikTok sea shanties to Man City’s Twitter, the football lads meme pals enjoy their rise to fame

It’s the first time I saw the one with you on #gmb this morning. “Who would have known what a sh*t storm this photo would cause?” asked Humpage, who runs his own tattoo business and was one of the quartet traveling between Coventry and Birmingham.”It’s been a rough year for me personally, but I’m so f*cking happy right now.”Fernando Torres and the lads. Yes, [Manchester United midfielder Scott] McTominay is a better Paul Scholes. In a symbol of just how huge the viral photo sensation had become on social media, Premier League giants City reworked parts of it when they revealed their team to play Crystal Palace last week, joining in with the fun as part of a frantic, thrilling explosion of fame for the unwitting men involved.England defender Kyle Walker, 2018 World Cup star John Stones and Brazil goalkeeper Ederson had their heads superimposed in honor of the picture, which first took off last June when it was viewed as a quintessential portrait of modern English “lads”.While Champions League contenders City are by far the most high-profile team to have highlighted the image to date, dozens of clubs and thousands of fans have reinterpreted the work – often including famous faces to produce a rich seam of jokes. Avid Wexford hurling supporters 👀💜💛 #meme#theladspic.twitter.com/FACtm6fOXE— Wexford Weekly (@Wexford_Weekly) January 16, 2021 View this post on InstagramA post shared by Kevin Rooney (@krooney6)As well as an animated version of the picture being used as part of the “sea shanty” trend on social media platform TikTok, one of the most popular versions of the meme has featured the friends debating various sporting contests, including a potential rematch between UFC rivals Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.”Yes, Conor smashes Khabib in a rematch,” said Rooney, playing along as he published an illustrated version of the snap.”Yes, Logan Paul does Anthony Joshua within three rounds. 🙌XI | Ederson, Walker, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko, Fernandinho (C), Gundogan, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sterling, Jesus SUBS | Steffen, Rodrigo, Torres, Mendy, Mahrez, Cancelo, Foden, Delap, Doyle⚽️ @HaysWorldwide 🔷 #ManCitypic.twitter.com/UzqJLu4blK— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 17, 2021Premier League managers Steve Bruce, Sam Allardyce, Sean Dyche and Roy Hodgson featured in one version, and the photo has gone beyond football to feature UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leading political figures looking unusually muscular and preened.Connor Humpage, Kevin Rooney, Jamie Phillips and Alex Lacey are the pals in the picture. pic.twitter.com/ZmFKONKMnl— Matt Thielen (@MattThielen) January 19, 2021"Let's park the bus lads" pic.twitter.com/wpFlolujCU— Football Memes and Banter (@footy_bantter) January 18, 2021@piersmorgan this is the only meme of the 4 lads I’ve seen. This one is hilarious. And yes, Bozza [Johnson], we want our gyms back [open after lockdown].”

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‘We’ll get him’: Conor McGregor says UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov ‘should be stripped’ of title if he doesn’t agree to rematch here’s a throwback to those famous title celebrations in 2019. I’m happy to be through all that and excited for the future.”Phillips said he hoped the interview with Morgan, which was seen by millions, had “opened some eyes to how words can affect people.””The meme has taken us on a rollercoaster,” he admitted. “However, it wasn’t always fun and games.Can’t wait to be out with the Sunderland north lads after this pandemic @rowansbaxter2@robbellftmpic.twitter.com/pxq8vhlRYY— Sunderland North Football Club (@SunlinNorthFC) January 18, 2021Our lads patiently waiting for #nonleague football to return pic.twitter.com/8OkK90sjFI— Lboro Football (@lborofootball) January 20, 2021Seeing as we haven’t seen the lads on the pitch at Bridge Road for a few months now… Boris wearing Essex boy jeans 😂 pic.twitter.com/j6Y14uaCCV— Hayleymay Gibson (@babyrat36) January 18, 2021The disbelieving group have appeared on national TV and radio in the UK this week, winning praise from the likes of loudmouth interviewer Piers Morgan.For Lacey, there has been a sense of relief after he was targeted by trolls when the image initially surfaced, including prank calls to his work telephone number and comments left on his mother’s social media accounts.”We’re having a right laugh and loving the ride we are on,” he said. Follow RT on

When four friends took a photo after a train trip between two English cities on a drunken day out, the idea of the snap ending up on a Manchester City team news announcement to millions of fans, it is fair to say, seemed remote. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Connor Jordan Humpage (@cj_humps_tattoos)Sea shanty tiktok is WILD pic.twitter.com/rjY1iXFQkA— Kristian (@vonstrenginho) January 14, 2021How 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝗱𝘀 line-up tonight! 🔴⚫️ pic.twitter.com/BPDAjWTc5n— Histon Football Club (@HistonFC) January 18, 2021″It got out of hand last year – for me especially – and some of the abuse and trolling wasn’t OK, judging a book by its cover. “I’m loving the ride but people need to be aware of what they say to others on the internet and be kind.” View this post on InstagramA post shared by Connor Jordan Humpage (@cj_humps_tattoos)Ah, that’s where we seen ‘The Lads’ before!

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‘I look forward to your rise’: Andrea ‘KGB’ Lee shows she has moved on from estranged husband with message to new UFC fighter love

Let’s go.”Lee has shared glimpses of herself in tough training recently as she looks to end a sequence of three straight UFC decision defeats, most recently losing to Roxanne Modafferi to continue a run that began against Joanne Calderwood on the undercard of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s victory over Dustin Poirier in 2019.When she hasn’t been sparring, Lee has been indulging her love of guns. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee)”I can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store for you. “I’m very grateful to have you in my life. Also on rt.com
‘You better HOPE it’s contagious’: UFC starlet Andrea ‘KGB’ Lee claims she has ‘SWOLVID-19’ as she flexes guns ahead of next fight View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee)”Thank you for being who you are. Lee, whose former husband and trainer is said to have given the fighter her nickname because of looks that made her resemble a “Russian spy”, was at the center of troubling reports before Aaron was incarcerated last year after going on the run.The 31-year-old now appears to be smitten with Tony Kelley, a featherweight who lost by a unanimous decision on his UFC debut in August before winning by the same outcome on his second outing, in October.”Happy birthday, babe,” the hugely popular Lee announced to her following of more than 142,000 on Instagram, accompanying her tribute with a photo of the couple smooching in training gear on a street. I see how hard you work and how determined you are and I’ve always believed you belong in the UFC. I look forward to seeing your rise.”Lee has found happiness after a turbulent period in her life, including accounts that said the starlet and her then-housemate, MMA fighter Andy Nyugen, had told police that Aaron had tried to burn her with a cigarette and choke her as part of an argument following UFC 227 in August 2018.Lee endured minor injuries in the alleged incident, and Aaron was later charged with domestic violence or battery and false imprisonment before police were forced to ask the public for help in finding him, suggesting that he may have gone to an MMA gym. “Had a blast blowing sh*t up today,” she wrote earlier this week, adding a clip in which she grinned while firing a weapon at mannequins in Nevada. 2021 ain’t just going to be my year. Follow RT on

UFC flyweight Andrea Lee, whose husband, Donny Aaron, was jailed after allegedly attacking her in 2018, has written a gushing public message to her new love – promotion newcomer Tony Kelley – alongside a photo of the pair kissing. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Andrea Lee (@andreakgblee)The former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion also became embroiled in controversy when she apologized to fans for Aaron’s Nazi tattoos, telling her supporters that he had been given them in prison and had changed his ways.As he turned 34, “Primetime” Kelley thanked Lee for his success, having hit back from the defeat that was only the second of his nine-fight career to date.”You motivate me to live up to my potential,” he told her.

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‘I‘d love to taste hot sauce’: Conor McGregor tells UFC 257 foe Poirier to bring bottle and warns he has ‘a million shots’ (VIDEO)

I think this whole conference was just demoralising for dustin— Fuck Ali (@DabboMFS) January 21, 2021Looked back at the Poirier Hooker and Poirier Khabib pressers to make sure I'm not going mental. I’m in a phenomenal place.”I keep showing up here. So clear that McGregor is in Poirier's head! I have so many weapons in my arsenal, all fine-tuned. Follow RT on

Dustin Poirier has revealed that UFC 257 foe Conor McGregor will “help a lot of people” after offering to support his foundation, while the mutual admirers plan to trade whiskey and hot sauce after their much-anticipated rematch. Returning superstar McGregor spoke excitedly about the Louisiana-style hot sauce which takes Poirier’s name, adding that he had been “impressed” by the progress the American had made since losing to him in little more than a minute in 2014.Despite that praise, McGregor admitted that he did not expect to be tested by Poirier as he seeks a challenge that can take him further than Donald Cerrone did a year ago, when his victory took 40 seconds.”You’ve got the hot sauce?” McGregor asked Poirier in a jovial exchange between the pair who will clash on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.The competitive fire is still there, but so is the respect.@TheNotoriousMMA and @DustinPoirier will share the Octagon, some hot sauce, and a vision for the donation discussed back in October. We have huge plans for that. “I’ve been impressed, I think the whole business has been impressed.”After that loss many, many years ago he rose up, became champion, he’s given so much back.Dude poirier looked scared when conor mentioned his hot sauce. #UFC257pic.twitter.com/mI8FBmzHvu— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 21, 2021This was cringe worthy how nice they were to each other. “You’ll taste it on Sunday morning and then I’ll give you a bottle,” he pledged, before explaining that McGregor would be backing his charity.”McGregor Sports Entertainment did reach out to my team foundation. I do not. I don’t put my name to something unless it’s proper, the finest.”Poirier promised he had a bottle of the fiery condiment, which trades for $12 a pop, ready. You’re going to help a lot of people with that.”I just watched the #UFC257 press conference. McGregor has transformed into a humble fighter; he mentioned Poirier's hot sauce and his foundation, meanwhile all of Poirier's answers are about how he's thankful for the opportunity.— Danny Podolsky (@PodolskyDanny) January 21, 2021If Dustin beats Conor I will buy a bottle of Poirier’s Louisiana Style Hot Sauce and apply it directly to both my eyes— CTE DABBER (@ForgotHowToRead) January 20, 2021I feel like Conor has beaten Dustin again before the fight has started. Whilst yesterday he looked like he'd swallowed a bee whilst talking about his charity and hot sauce 😂— ~:The Burgundy Arm:~ (@Trunk_Muzik) January 22, 2021We can thank the goat for leading by example and setting these fighters on the right track pic.twitter.com/ZYCz5mZJD2— Keith Hopkins ❁ (@KeithHo62243005) January 21, 2021″That fire is there and there’s no denying that it’s going to be a good clash, a fire-filled bout, but the respect is admirable for this man, for me.”I have a million shots. I thought they were going to play patty cake next jeez.— Robert Arroyo, M.Ed (@_rarroyo) January 21, 2021khabib really made him humble wooow— Maher 賢い juveⓂ️ (@maher3amer) January 21, 2021″I’d love to taste the hot sauce. I’ve got to taste it first, though. But no, he was talking confidently, even smiling at the Khabib one. Someone’s going to be able to stay with me and I hope it’s this Saturday night.”Do I think so? #UFC257— Crack Hardly (@CrackHardly) January 21, 2021Pleasantries and his inexhaustible willingness to plug his whiskey brand aside, McGregor assured a rapt press conference that he believed he could “hit and possibly hurt” Poirier from the off again and “get him out of there early”.”He’s put in the hard work,” he observed. I am in some shape here and I am coming to put on a masterpiece, so I’m excited.”

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Make or break: Conor McGregor may have to dance to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s tune if he is to rematch the UFC lightweight champion

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Japan denies seeking a ‘face-saving way’ to cancel Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus

With the 2024 games set to take place in Paris, and the 2028 event in Los Angeles, the Times speculated that Tokyo is hoping to be awarded the 2032 games “out of sympathy.”Like this story? Follow RT on

The Japanese government “privately” concluded that the Tokyo Olympics, rescheduled from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will have to be canceled altogether, The Times reported citing sources inside the ruling coalition. Share it with a friend! 80% of Japanese opposed to hosting Tokyo Olympics due to Covid-19 fears – survey

While both the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government have maintained publicly that the games will take place in July and August as scheduled, the paper alleged that a “global winter wave” of coronavirus infections was forcing them to reconsider.“We will have full anti-infection measures in place and proceed with preparation and with a determination to achieve the Games that can deliver hope and courage throughout the world,” PM Suga told the Japanese parliament this week – despite recent polls showing that some 80 percent Japanese citizens favor postponing the games.Japan has spent at least $25 billion on its Olympics preparations, 75 percent of which was drawn from the taxpayer’s purse. Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai told Reuters on Thursday that there is “no truth” to reports about the possible cancellation, while Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he remains “determined” to work closely with Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee to host the event, already rescheduled from 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.Earlier on Friday, the Times reported, citing sources inside the ruling coalition, that officials had already agreed to cancel the event altogether and were looking for a “face-saving” way to announce it, while leaving open the possibility that Tokyo could host the Olympics in 2032, the next available slot, or some later date.“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” an anonymous source told the Times. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

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Games over?

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Daniel Cormier talks Russian UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov’s potential return: ‘It will take something that excites him’ (VIDEO)

but for me personally, as a friend, I really don’t care. If you don’t, we’ll still talk and we’ll still see each other when Umar fights, and Islam fights.’ It just really doesn’t matter to me.”I have no vested interest in him fighting. I’ll help you prepare, we always have. This makes me want to put everything else aside and get back to work and prepare for a fight.’ “Because that’s what it takes. I figure you don’t need all that much.”He’s a smart guy, he’s got a lot of different ventures outside of the octagon. So, something competitive that makes him go ‘Wow! As an organization, you want him to fight… Money’s great, obviously, but he lives in the mountains in Dagestan, Russia. He actually asked me,” he revealed.”He said, ‘What do you want? And for a guy like Khabib, who has so many irons in the fire, it will take something that excites him to get him back into training camp.”Cormier revealed that Khabib had directly asked him to give him his advice on what to do next, and admitted that he batted back the request by saying he’d back him, regardless of his decision. You don’t just go to a fight. Also on rt.com
Make or break: Conor McGregor may have to dance to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s tune if he is to rematch the UFC lightweight champion

“For Khabib, it has to be something (that excites him) competitively,” he explained.”His financial position is so different, I don’t think it’s just going to be money any more. I think when you get to a certain point in your life… Cormier is working on commentary duties this weekend at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi as Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier meet in the blockbuster main event.But while the attention of that fight, as well as the co-main bout between fellow lightweight contenders Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler, is gathering plenty of attention, the underlying storyline is whether one of the four men in action can do something special enough to entice Khabib out of retirement in a bid to take his stellar career to 30-0.Speaking to the press during a media session this week, Cormier shared his take on Khabib’s situation and, perhaps surprisingly, admitted that he didn’t look to steer his friend toward any particular outcome. So ultimately, I’m getting no money out of this.”

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‘I have so much to do, but fights are not in those plans’: UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov hints that he will stay retired (VIDEO)

While Cormier admitted he was fine with Khabib’s decision regardless of whether he opts to return or remain retired, he did say that he loves watching his friend fight, and hinted that the current landscape in the UFC lightweight division – with a host of new challengers waiting for him, as well as a potential blockbuster rematch with McGregor – may just encourage him to come back.”I get to see my buddy do something I know he loves to do. Granted, as a fan of the sport, you want him to fight. He ain’t gonna pay me! What do you want me to do?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t really care.'”‘You fight, I’ll support you. Everything else is on hold as you prepare. But ultimately it’s your decision.’ I gain nothing. Follow RT on

Longtime teammate and training partner Daniel Cormier is uniquely placed to discuss Khabib Nurmagomedov’s mindset as he mulls over a potential return, but he admitted he isn’t worried whether his friend decides to return or not. How much do you really need?! For all of the wrestling practices, he’s given me not one red cent! No money. Also on rt.com
‘We’ll get him’: Conor McGregor says UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov ‘should be stripped’ of title if he doesn’t agree to rematch

“He actually asked me the other day. And I guess I don’t know if he thought that was going to be the answer.”I was saying, ‘As a fan, people want you to fight. He loves to compete and he’s the best at it,” Cormier said.”And, when you look at the matchups, why would he not (want to continue), because he’s so much better than everybody else.”So it has to be something that makes him believe, ‘This is going to be much tougher for me. This is something I’m going to have to really prepare for if I want to continue to dominate the way that I do.'”

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