Laureus World Sports Awards: Simone Biles and Novak Djokovic win top honours


Simone Biles was not present at the ceremony as she is hosting a gymnastics event in Houston

Gymnast Simone Biles and tennis player Novak Djokovic won the top prizes at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards.

American Biles, 21, was named Sportswoman of the Year after winning four gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the 2018 World Championships.

Serb Djokovic, 31, won the Sportsman of the Year award after claiming victory at both the US Open and Wimbledon.

Golfer Tiger Woods won the Comeback award, while tennis player Naomi Osaka won Breakthrough of the Year.

America’s 14-time major winner Woods won the season-ending Tour Championship by two shots to record his first win in five years following spinal fusion surgery.

Japan’s Osaka won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open last year, then won the Australian Open last month.

Elsewhere, Slovakian skier Henrieta Farkasova and guide Natalia Subrtova won the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award after winning four gold medals at the 2018 Winter Paralympics.

Football World Cup winners France won Team of the Year, and Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge took the Exceptional Achievement Award after taking 78 seconds off the world marathon record with his victory in Berlin.

American snowboarder Chloe Kim was given the Action Sportsperson of the Year Award, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and American skier Lindsey Vonn won the Spirit of Sport Award.



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FA Cup: Ander Herrera gives Manchester United lead at Chelsea


Ander Herrera gives Manchester United a 1-0 lead against Chelsea in their FA Cup fifth-round tie at Stamford Bridge.

FOLLOW LIVE: Chelsea v Manchester United – TV, in-play clips, radio & text

WATCH MORE: Super solo goals, Maupay’s howler & ‘everything but the kitchen sink’

Available to UK users only.



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Murder victim Breck Bednar’s family ‘taunted online’


Breck BednarImage copyright
Essex Police

Image caption

Breck Bednar met his killer online before travelling to to meet him

The family of a teenage boy who was murdered in 2014 by a man he met through a gaming website have said his killer is taunting them from prison.

Lewis Daynes lured Breck Bednar, 14, from Caterham, Surrey, to his flat in Grays, Essex, and stabbed him to death.

Daynes is serving a life sentence, but Breck’s sister Chloe, from Kent, said the killer had sent her disturbing messages on Snapchat.

Kent Police said officers had received a report of malicious communications.

Ms Bednar said the messages left her in shock, adding: “I received things like ‘I know where your brother is buried’, ‘I’m going to smash his tombstone’.”

The family believe there is nothing police can do because the messages were posted with a US company.

But Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave said: “If the police need to have information about an account that’s harmful… the police deserve that right to get information.”

After Breck’s murder, his family – who now live in Kent – formed The Breck Foundation, which warns youngsters of online dangers.

Martha Kirby, from the NSPCC, said: “We see it every day, children contacting Childline telling us about the abuse they’re experiencing, so we know that there is much more than social media companies can do.”

Snapchat said it did not comment on individual cases. Kent Police said its investigation was continuing.



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Leeds United: Championship club fined £200,000 by EFL over ‘spygate’


Marcelo Bielsa took over Leeds in the summer and has seen them contest top spot in the Championship this season

Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds United have been fined £200,000 by the English Football League for watching opponents train before matches.

A member of Leeds’ staff was found acting suspiciously outside Derby’s training ground before the fixture between the two sides on 10 January.

Boss Marcelo Bielsa said he had sent a member of staff to watch every team they have played this season train.

The EFL found Leeds breached rules over treating teams with “good faith”.

Leeds have also received a formal reprimand from the EFL, which is bringing in a rule to prohibit clubs from viewing their opposition training in the 72 hours preceding a game unless invited to do so.

The EFL said in a statement that Leeds’ conduct “fell significantly short of the standards expected” and it “must not be repeated”.

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey added: “The sanctions imposed highlight how actions such as this cannot be condoned and act as a clear deterrent should any club seek to undertake poor conduct in the future.

“We will now look to move on from this incident and commence the discussions about introducing a specific regulation at a meeting with all clubs later this month.”

The Football Association has also issued a formal warning to Leeds, Bielsa and a club video analyst.

“The FA will take appropriate action should further evidence of this nature come to light in the future,” a spokesman said.

Leeds admit wrongdoing

Watch Bielsa’s remarkable PowerPoint presentation

In an extraordinary news conference in the week after Leeds’ match against Derby, Bielsa said he “observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents”.

That led to widespread criticism, though there is no specific rule stopping teams from observing opponents training.

During Bielsa’s briefing, he showed journalists how much preparation and analysis he and his staff carry out on each opponent before every game.

Leeds said in a statement: “We accept that whilst we have not broken any specific rule, we have fallen short of the standard expected by the EFL.

“We apologise for acting in a way that has been judged culturally unacceptable in the English game and would like to thank Shaun Harvey and the EFL for the manner in which they conducted their investigations.

“Our focus can now return to matters on the field.”

‘Unethical’ Leeds split opinion

Frank Lampard (right) was far from happy Bielsa had his team watched in training before their match

Leeds beat Derby 2-0 in their match last month, and Rams boss Frank Lampard called the Whites’ conduct in the build-up to the game “unethical”.

“I’ve never heard of going to a training ground on your hands and knees with pliers trying to break into private land to watch,” he added after the match.

Swansea City boss Graham Potter said he had “no problem with it” but Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert said the incident was “not right”.



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Women’s FA Cup quarter-final draw: Chelsea play Durham, Man City face Liverpool


Bethany England scored twice in Chelsea’s fifth-round win over Arsenal on Sunday

Holders Chelsea will travel to Championship side Durham in the quarter-finals of the Women’s FA Cup.

Durham produced the shock of the fifth round by beating Bristol City on Sunday – and their reward is a match against the two-time winners.

Women’s Super League leaders Manchester City will play Liverpool, Championship side Manchester United travel to Reading, and Aston Villa – also of the second tier – host West Ham.

The ties will be played on 17 March.

Quarter-final draw

Reading v Manchester United

Aston Villa v West Ham

Durham v Chelsea

Manchester City v Liverpool



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Caster Semenya: South Africa runner’s appeal against IAAF rule begins


Semenya arrives at Monday’s hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya’s appeal against a regulation restricting testosterone levels in female runners began on Monday – as the head of world athletics again defended the rule.

South African Semenya, 28, is seeking to overturn the regulation at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

But IAAF president Lord Coe said it would “protect the sanctity of fair and open competition”.

The case will be heard until Friday, with a verdict expected by 29 March.

Before the hearing, Semenya’s lawyers and Athletics South Africa (ASA) accused the IAAF of breaching confidentiality regulations by releasing a list of five expert witnesses who will testify on its behalf.

“Semenya believes the IAAF press release is a clear breach of the confidentiality provisions that was orchestrated in an effort to influence public opinion in circumstances where the IAAF knew that Semenya would not be prepared to respond because she was complying with her confidentiality obligations,” her lawyers said.

“As a matter of fairness, Semenya raised this issue with the Cas and has been granted permission to publicly release information responding to the IAAF press release‚ including disclosing the experts who are testifying in support of Semenya’s case.”

Athletics’ governing body responded by saying it was within its rights to make the witness list public.

“Cas left the decision for all parties to release their witness list to the parties involved,” the IAAF said. “This was agreed.”

Under the IAAF rule, female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels would have to race against men or change events unless they took medication to reduce it.

Athletes who wanted to compete in those events must take medication for six months, then maintain a lower testosterone level.

It was intended the new rule would be brought in on 1 November last year, but the legal challenge from Semenya and ASA prompted that to be delayed until 26 March.

Speaking in June, Semenya called the proposed rule “unfair”, adding: “I just want to run naturally, the way I was born.”

As an 18-year-old, she was asked to take a gender test but no results have officially been made public.

The IAAF denied a report on Thursday that lawyers would argue athletes like Semenya should be classified as male.

Analysis

Sports news correspondent Richard Conway on BBC Radio 5 live

This goes beyond Semenya’s competitive future.

There are lots of other sports governing bodies, including the International Olympic Committee, that are looking at this case because they are trying to determine what to do in their sports and events over this issue.

Depending on which way it goes, it could have profound implications for the future of sport and women’s sport.

It goes to the heart of gender and identity at an elite level.



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Ren Zhengfei: Huawei’s reclusive founder


Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei (L) speaking to Chinese media in ShenzhenImage copyright
AFP/Huawei

Image caption

Ren Zhengfei is one of China’s richest businessmen

When Huawei’s founder and president Ren Zhengfei started his firm back in 1987 with just 21,000 yuan – the equivalent of about $6,600 today – little did he know his creation would grow to become a telecoms giant and make him one of the richest people in the world.

With his personal fortune estimated at about $1.7bn, his company currently employs 180,000 workers around the globe – and its annual revenue is forecast to be $125bn (£96bn) this year.

Mr Ren is something of a recluse, but in the past few weeks he has been talking to journalists, defending his firm amid rising pressure from the US and other countries over security concerns about Huawei’s role in building 5G networks across the world – and the nature of its links to China’s government.

“We would rather shut Huawei down than do anything that would damage the interests of our customers,” he countered. “I support the Communist Party of China, but I will never do anything to harm any other nation.

“Some people in the West believe that Huawei’s equipment is stamped with some sort of ideology. That is as silly as people smashing textile machines back during the industrial revolution. We only provided equipment to telecom operators and that equipment does not have an ideology.”

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Some argue that Huawei is being used by Beijing so it can spy on rivals

Born in 1944, he went to Chongqing University and then joined a People’s Liberation Army research institute at the height of the disruption caused by the country’s 1960s Cultural Revolution.

“There was chaos almost everywhere, including in agriculture and industry,” he told reporters.

“Every Chinese person was allotted only one-third of a metre of cloth. That amount could be used only for patching, so I never wore clothes without patches when I was young.”

As an engineer he was sent to help build a synthetic clothing factory in Liaoyang, northeast China.

“Conditions were harsh,” he said. “Our housing was very shabby so we constantly felt cold. The temperature could drop to -28C. The supply of meat and cooking oil was very limited – there was no supply of fresh vegetables at all.”

Yet Mr Ren says he was happy there: “If you read too many books in other parts of the country you could get criticised. The factory was probably one of the few places that people could read.

“We had to, to understand how the equipment worked.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Up to three million people are believed to have been killed during China’s Cultural Revolution

In 1978, two years after Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s death, he finally joined the Communist Party having invented a key tool used for testing advanced equipment at the clothing factory.

Mr Ren said he had not been allowed to do so before because of his father’s links with the losing nationalist side in China’s civil war. During the 1960s, his father had been labelled a “capitalist roader” – a pejorative term for those considered to be trying to restore capitalism – and imprisoned.

Mr Ren had hoped to become the equivalent of a lieutenant colonel in the army, but instead was demobbed in 1983 when China cut back its engineering corps.

After moving to Shenzhen in southern China and working in the country’s infant electronics sector, he was eventually able to collect enough money to found Huawei.

He has two children from his first marriage – both working for Huawei – Meng Wanzhou and Meng Ping, who both took their mother’s name to avoid “unnecessary attention”.

Annabel Yao, his daughter from his second marriage, is a Harvard computer science student, ballerina and keen Instagrammer. Mr Ren’s third wife is Su Wei, who was reportedly formerly his secretary.

In December, his eldest daughter – and Huawei’s chief financial officer – Meng Wanzhou – was arrested in Canada at the request of the US amid fraud allegations over the company’s ties to a telecoms firm that did business in Iran.

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Meng Wanzhou has been released on bail and is currently facing a US extradition request

Mr Ren said he trusted the Canadian and US legal systems would “reach a just conclusion”, but that “as Meng Wanzhou’s father, I miss her very much”.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the war of words over trade between Washington and Beijing, Mr Ren is an admirer of US President Donald Trump: “I still believe he was a great president in the sense that he was bold to slash taxes. I think that is conducive to the development of industries in the US.”

The firm is privately owned by thousands of employees, which he said means it could work “truly for our ideas and for the greater good of society”.

Despite the pressure from the US on countries not to use Huawei kit, Mr Ren said he is upbeat about the future. The company has more than 30 commercial 5G contracts and has already shipped 25,000 5G base stations.

“As long as we develop very compelling products, there will be customers who will buy them.”

Follow Tim Bowler on Twitter @timbowlerbbc





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Formula 1 testing 2019: Williams in turmoil as Sebastian Vettel fastest


Kimi Raikkonen spun his Alfa Romeo off the track during his first flying lap

Williams are in turmoil ahead of the new Formula 1 season as a result of delays building their new car.

The new FW42 missed the first day of pre-season testing on Monday, will not be ready for Tuesday and is likely to miss much of Wednesday as well.

On track, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set the pace, with a lap 0.4 seconds quicker than McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said Ferrari “looked ultra-strong” but added no team was chasing ultimate lap times.

Williams in trouble

Williams’ car was still at the team’s Oxfordshire factory on Monday and was not scheduled to be finished until late on Tuesday, before being flown to Spain.

The problems have led to questions about the future of technical boss Paddy Lowe.

The 56-year-old joined Williams in 2017 from Mercedes, where he was the senior technical figure as the team won three consecutive world title doubles from 2014-16.

Lowe is ultimately responsible for all technical aspects of the Williams group, including the performance of the F1 car, and pressure is building on him within the team.

Insiders say that employees had been warning for some months that delays could lead to the car missing the start of testing, but that action was not taken in time to solve the problem.

Teams are allowed only eight days of testing – four this week and four next – before the first race in Australia on 14-16 March.

Carlos Sainz joined McLaren from Renault and posted the second-fastest time of the day

Deputy team principal Claire Williams described the delay as “extremely disappointing”.

She added: “It is looking more likely than not that we will now not be in a position to run on track until Wednesday at the earliest.”

On Monday, Williams hoped that the car would be ready to fly to Spain on Tuesday evening but the earliest it is expected to be at the track is around 0100-0200 local time on Wednesday.

Although Williams plan a nightshift to prepare the car for the third day of the test, they accept it is unlikely to be ready for the start of testing at 09:00 local time, given the inevitable teething troubles any team encounters with a new car.

The aim is to get the car out on track at some point on Wednesday, but that could slip to Thursday – the final day of the test – if there are any problems.

Just as worryingly for Williams – who dominated much of the 1980s and 1990s in F1 but slumped to last in the constructors’ championship in 2018 – the team fear privately that the car will be slow when it does finally hit the track.

Insiders say it is projected to be at least two seconds slower than last year’s car, which was already the slowest in F1.

Rule changes to front wings aimed at improving the racing have reduced downforce at the initial stages of design but many teams have clawed a large part of it back, and the times set on track on Monday suggest most teams’ cars will have comparable pace at least to 2018.

If the word from inside the team is accurate, Williams could be facing a season adrift of the rest of the field.

But that remains a subject of speculation until at least it runs, and more likely until the race in Melbourne next month.

Williams were hoping to make progress this season after their poor performance forced them to recognise how far they had fallen, and they embarked on some internal restructuring.

The team have an all-new driver line-up of Robert Kubica, who is returning to F1 after eight years out caused by life-changing injuries suffered in a rally crash in February 2011, and British novice George Russell, the reigning Formula 2 champion.

The latest delay comes after Williams were forced to postpone a planned shakedown test on Saturday, and then to miss the first day of pre-season testing on Monday.

Ferrari look ‘ultra strong’

Vettel ended the first day fastest, ahead of Sainz, Haas driver Romain Grosjean and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton, who drove only in the afternoon after taking over from Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, was ninth fastest as the world champion, as usual, concentrated on longer runs in testing.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said he thought the Italian team, who let their title chances slip through their fingers last year with a series of errors, “looked ultra-strong”.

“We are all looking at lap times but it’s not the purpose of these tests – it’s about going through the data and testing the parts,” Wolff said. “Sebastian Vettel’s time was very quick. The time was quicker than everyone else and definitely the Ferrari has been going strong this morning.”

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was ninth fastest, but only drove in the afternoon

Wolff said Hamilton had come back from his winter break in good form.

“The (car) weight regulations have been lifted and he came back stronger and musclier than before,” Wolff said. “He is in a super mental state, the best I have seen so far. So he looks physically and mentally in shape. A good start.”

Pre-season testing times are a notoriously misleading guide to real form as it is impossible to know the specifications cars are running in – tyres, fuel loads and engine modes all make a significant difference to performance.

Most of the teams ran reliably despite it being the first full day of testing, although both Haas and McLaren had cars stop on track.

Raikkonen spun the Alfa Romeo into the gravel at Turn Five on his first flying lap of the day but there were no crashes. And Vettel had a spin, but stayed on track, at the chicane early in the day.

Fastest times, day one, first pre-season test, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari one minute 18.161 seconds ***

2 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 1:18.558 ****

3 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas 1:19.159 ***

4 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:19.426 ***

5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo 1:19.462 ***

6 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso 1:19.635 ****

7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:19.944 ***

8 Valterri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:20.127 **

9 Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes 1:20.135 **

10 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:20.980 **

11 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:20.983 **

Tyres: * = C1 (hardest); ** = C2 (second hardest); *** = C3 (middle); C4 **** = (second softest); ***** = C5 (softest)



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Who were the Social Democratic Party?


Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe creation of the SDP

A lot of commentators have been comparing the resignations of seven MPs from the Labour Party on Monday to the formation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

But why has the latest twist in Westminster’s political layout reminded some of events dating back almost 40 years?

In January 1981, four members of the Labour Party – Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and David Owen – made the decision to resign.

Featuring former ministers and standing MPs, the group earned themselves the nickname of “the gang of four”.

The resignation of their memberships followed the party’s Wembley conference earlier that month, with the cohort issuing what became known as the “Limehouse Declaration” from Mr Owen’s house in the east London area of the same name.

The four were unhappy with the direction Labour was moving in – namely, to the left – and, in their statement, claimed “a handful of trade union leaders [could] now dictate the choice of a future prime minister”.

Image caption

“The gang of four” – Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, David Owen

The founders wanted “a new start in British politics” and proposed a Council for Social Democracy to “rally all those who are committed to the values, principles and policies of social democracy”.

The leader of Labour at the time – Michael Foot – said he wanted them to stay and help to shape the party.

But two months later, that council became the Social Democratic Party and eventually 28 Labour MPs would join the ranks, as well as one Conservative.

In June of the same year, the SDP joined in an electoral alliance with the Liberal Party to take its “new politics” to the polls.

The alliance elections

Ms Williams was the first member to stand as an SDP candidate and win, taking the sear of Crosby in October 1981.

And come the election in 1983, the alliance was shown to have growing support – securing almost 25% of the vote.

But thanks to the “first past the post” voting system in British elections, this amounted to only 23 MPs.

After the election, however, Mr Foot, resigning as leader, blamed the alliance for siphoning off Labour votes and giving Margaret Thatcher and the Tories another term in government.

The alliance went on to fight another election, in 1987, but again failed to make much of an impact on the numbers in the Commons – with almost 23% of the vote amounting to just 22 MPs.

It was decided in 1988 that the SDP and the Liberal Party should merge – and the Liberal Democrats were born in October 1989.

Mr Owen was unhappy with the decision and formed a new version of the SDP in 1990. But it dissolved quickly and subsequent incarnations have not managed to make an impact on Westminster elections.



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