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Morocco officially pulls out of CHAN 2023 over political row with Algeria

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Morocco has officially pulled out of the African Nations Championship (CHAN), which will kick off in Algeria on January 13, following a political row with its neighbour.

The formal announcement was made on Thursday by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) in a press release saying the home-based Atlas Lions will not be defending its title at the championship.

In the release, the FRMF said the “Moroccan football team is not able to travel to Constantine (Algeria) as the permission for Royal Air Maroc (RAM) flight, official carrier of the Moroccan national team, from Rabat to Constantine has not been confirmed” by the Algerian authorities.

The row was escalated in December 2022, after the FRMF sent a request to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), emphasizing that Morocco would not participate in the tournament if Algeria refused to allow the Moroccan delegation to fly directly from Rabat to Constantine with the country’s official carrier, Royal Air Maroc.

The FRMF said having filed a request, the national team continued their training at the Mohammed VI Football Complex in Sale from January 6-10 as part of their preparation for the tournament but the Federation was forced to withdraw from the tournament.

“While the trip of the Moroccan football selection from Rabat to Constantine is organized by the FRMF and the kick-off of CHAN is scheduled for January 13, 2023, meaning in 24 hours, the FRMF notes with regret that obtaining a final authorization of the RAM flight from Rabat to Constantine has unfortunately still not been confirmed by CAF,” FRMF said in the statement.

Tensions between the two North African countries were exacerbated in 2021 after Algeria accused Morocco of interfering in its domestic affairs, which led to Algeria closing its airspace and cut ties with Morocco in 2021.

A week ago, the Algerian Minister of Sports, Abderrazak Sebgag had promised that his country will communicate its response to Morocco’s request through “official channels.”

“The FAF will respond to CAF via official channels. Algeria has its laws, its sovereignty which is above all consideration,” but an Algerian news outlet TAS, in a report after the Minister’s comments, said the remarks “signified Algeria’s rejection” of Morocco’s request.

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Female Kenyan world marathon champion banned for five years over doping

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A female Kenyan marathon world champion, Betty Wilson Lempus, has been handed a five year ban after she was found to have violated the World Athletics anti-doping rules on two occasions.

Lempus, 31, who came to international limelight after she smashed the Paris Women’s ’s half-marathon record in 2021, was initially placed under observation after she tested positive for the banned metabolite, Triamcinolone Acetonide.

She was to later falsify medical documents to explain the presence of the metabolite in her system, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), said in a report.

As a result, she has been disqualified from the Paris half-marathon and all races since the discovery, the AIU said.

Lempus’ punishment covers two years for the doping violation and four for the attempt to cover it up, but a year was subtracted from the ban owing to her admitting to both offenses.

The AIU, in its report, said Lempus had claimed that she had been injected with Triamcinolone Acetonide at a Kenyan hospital 16 days before the Paris race.

“But in June 2022, the Medical Superintendent from the hospital in question stated that though Lempus had been present that day, she had not received an intramuscular injection of Triamcinolone Acetonide at the hospital on this date,” the anti-doping body said.

“The official also cited other discrepancies, including false hospital documents, including address and phone number, and that the doctor, whom Lempus claimed attended to her, is not employed at the hospital.

“Confronted by the AIU with this evidence in October 2022, Lempus admitted to Tampering.”

“We are pleased to conclude this case, especially because this athlete almost got away with her attempt to dupe the authorities and to cheat other runners out of their rightful rewards,” said AIU Head Brett Clothier.

“This is the right and fair outcome, and it’s a signal to all that the AIU takes its mission extremely seriously and will pursue every angle in seeking to reach the truth,” he added.

The anti-doping agency of Kenya which worked alongside the AIU to conclude the case, said it was happy with the outcome about battles to stamp out doping in the eastern African country’s athletics.

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Wigan Athletic sack Ivorian coach, Kolo Toure, two months after appointment

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Former Ivory Coast defender turned coach, Kolo Toure, has been sacked by Wigan Athletic football club two months after his appointment after he failed to win any of his nine games in charge.

The former Arsenal and Manchester City defender made history as the first black manager to be appointed by the club after the sacking of previous manager, Leam Richardson, in November 2022.

However, his appointment did not change the fortunes of the club as he was only able to garner just two points from his seven Championship matches, with the club bottom of the Sky Bet Championship on 25 points, table, just four points from relegation.

Kolo Toure was signed by Wigan on a three-and-a-half-year deal in late November, but a run of nine games without a victory in all competitions has brought an abrupt end to his spell as manager at the DW Stadium – after just 59 days.

The Wigan board, in a statement on Friday by chief executive, Malachy Brannigan, said:

“Firstly, I’d like to thank Kolo, along with Kevin and Ash, for their efforts during their time at the football club.

“Unfortunately, the results on the field have not been as we would have liked and as tough a decision as this was, the board felt it necessary to give us the best possible chance of remaining a Championship club next season.

“We know that this time of year is a key period for any football club, ourselves included.

“Therefore, we will now work swiftly and effectively to ensure the right person is appointed as the next permanent manager of Wigan Athletic, with the immediate objective of remaining in the second tier for next season.”

The 41-year-old Ivorian, had worked as first-team coach at Leicester since February 2019, but his first move into management has not proven to be a success.

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