Leicester sack Ranieri nine months after stunning triumph

By Toby Davis

Premier League champions Leicester City sacked Italian manager Claudio Ranieri on Thursday, nine months after he clinched one of soccer's most remarkable triumphs but with the team now hovering above the relegation zone.

Ranieri's side stunned the sporting world when they secured a maiden English top-flight title last May, having begun the season as 5000-1 outsiders, but have struggled to repeat those heroics in the current campaign.

Athletics - Three Russians cleared to compete in indoor championships

By Mitch Phillips

LONDON Three Russian athletes, including the women's pole vault defending champion, were cleared on Thursday to compete in next month's European indoor athletics championships under a neutral flag after proving their anti-doping credentials.

Ranieri sacked again, but now has a golden legacy

By Mitch Phillips

LONDON Even by the standards of modern soccer management mayhem, the vertiginous rise and equally stunning fall of Leicester City coach Claudio Ranieri takes the breath away.

The Italian was sacked by the Premier League club on Thursday less than 24 hours after his team battled to a creditable 2-1 defeat in the first leg of a Champions League last 16 knockout game against European specialists Sevilla.

Jaguares name new halfback pairing against Kings

BUENOS AIRES Argentina's Jaguares will field a new halfback pairing including debutant flyhalf Joaquin Diaz Bonilla in their opening Super Rugby match against the Southern Kings on Saturday.

With flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez missing through injury, Diaz Bonilla will be partnered by scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou.

Bertranou was a regular reserve last season to Martin Landajo, who will sit out the whole 2017 championship after breaking his leg.

Cavendish wins crash-hit opening stage of Abu Dhabi Tour

ABU DHABI Britain's Mark Cavendish won the opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, outsprinting his rivals to snatch the overall lead in a crash-marred climax on Thursday.

The Dimension Data rider beat German Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Italy's Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrein Merida) after a perfect lead-out from his team mates at the end of a 189-km flat ride.

German Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) and Australian Caleb Ewan (Orica Scott) both crashed with one kilometre to go and could not contest the final sprint. Both rode their bikes to the line with bruises.

Rooney to stay at Man United - statement

LONDON Manchester United's Wayne Rooney intends to stay at the club, ending speculation that he could move to China.

“Despite the interest which has been shown from other clubs, for which I’m grateful, I want to end recent speculation and say that I am staying at Manchester United," Rooney said in a statement on Thursday.

British media had reported that Rooney's agent, Paul Stretford, was in China to see if he could negotiate a deal for the England forward to leave United.

Peterson leading Joburg Open as rain halts play

JOHANNESBURG Paul Peterson opened a two-shot lead on the opening day of the Joburg Open before rain stopped play on at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

Peterson, 28, was among the early starters who got through most of their rounds before wet weather left waterlogged parts of the two courses used for the tournament.

Peterson, who won his first European Tour title at the Czech Masters last year, hit nine birdies in a nine under par 62 on the West Course.

Federation wants mixed shooting events for Tokyo 2020 Games

The International Shooting Sport Federation plans to introduce mixed events in air pistol, air rifle and trap for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to help achieve the IOC's goal of 50 percent female participation in the Olympics Games.

Following a two-year evaluation process, the ISSF said it would recommend scrapping the men's 50-metre free pistol, 50-metre rifle prone and the double trap events in favour of introducing three mixed events, one in each discipline.

Bonucci-Allegri rift threatens to destabilise Juventus

ROME An ongoing rift between Massimiliano Allegri and Leonardo Bonucci has threatened to overshadow an excellent week for Juventus ahead of their Serie A return after Wednesday's Champions League victory over Porto.

It often appears as though nothing can stop this Juventus side, with the league leaders seven points clear after winning their last six and firmly on course for a record sixth straight Scudetto ahead of the visit of 17th-placed Empoli on Saturday.

Fit again, Sexton returns to Ireland team to face France

By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN Fit again, Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton returns to the side for Saturday's visit of France as coach Joe Schmidt picked from a near full strength squad in a bid to stay in contention for the Six Nations title.

Sexton, who has suffered a spate of injuries recently from numerous concussions to shoulder, hamstring and neck problems, missed Ireland's first two matches of the tournament with a calf injury, when he was ably replaced by Paddy Jackson.