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Pistorius free to compete: Oly committee

Oscar Pistorius is free to compete for South Africa again, as long as his running doesn’t go against the ruling of the judge.

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Pistorius, who is to be sentenced next month after being found guilty in the negligent killing of his girlfriend, could compete at any time because the South African Olympic committee has no regulations preventing someone with a criminal record from representing the country.

“As he stands right now, he’s free (to compete),” South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee chief executive Tubby Reddy told The Associated Press on Monday.

Pistorius faces years in jail after being convicted of culpable homicide in the killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. However, there is no minimum sentence for the conviction in South African law and the double-amputee Olympian could receive a suspended sentence and no jail time.

As long as competing doesn’t go against the ruling of the judge when she decides Pistorius’ sentence next month, he can run for South Africa, Reddy said. Pistorius would only have to meet normal sports qualifying criteria.

Reddy dismissed reports of a meeting of SASCOC officials this week to decide Pistorius’ eligibility, saying there was nothing to decide.

Last year, Pistorius was cleared to run overseas after appealing his bail terms, but chose not to while he concentrated on his murder trial.

Pistorius’ agent, Peet van Zyl, said competing now was not an option but they would “sit down and take stock” after his sentencing hearing, which starts October 13.

“It’s all up to Oscar. He must decide what he wants to do,” Van Zyl said, adding he would only talk with Pistorius about running again after sentencing.

“I don’t know what his mindset is now. I will sit down with him. Is he keen or is he not keen?”

Pistorius wouldn’t be allowed to run while serving a prison or house-arrest sentence, but a fine and a suspended prison term is also an option for the judge.

Pistorius and his longtime coach, Ampie Louw, said before Steenkamp’s killing that they wanted to retire together at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Pistorius was the first amputee to compete on the track at the Olympics when he ran in the 400 metres and 4x400m relay at the London Games in 2012.

Van Zyl told the AP on Monday that Pistorius hadn’t done any running on the track “for ages” but was regularly working out in a gym.

Pistorius’ last competitive race was the 400-metre final at the London Paralympics two years ago, when he retained his title.

Brad Scott reveals Matthews’ no-sex edict

Brad Scott has revealed one of former coach Leigh Matthews’ lesser-known edicts during Brisbane’s golden AFL era: time your conception efforts.

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Lions forward Daniel Bradshaw became one of the first AFL players to put the birth of his baby before playing in a final.

Bradshaw missed Brisbane’s semi-final against Carlton at the MCG in 2000, pulling out of the match to be with wife Angie for the birth of their first son Jake.

Matthews was supportive of the decision, even after the Blues walloped Brisbane by 82 points.

But when it came time for pre-season training before the Lions’ successful 2001 campaign, Matthews made it clear that he didn’t want any players to be faced with Bradshaw’s dilemma.

“He told us to make sure … don’t have unprotected sex with your wives in January,” Scott recalled on Fox Footy.

“I said to Leigh, I think that’s a bit beyond your jurisdiction.

“I laughed and he didn’t.”

The Lions made the next four grand finals, celebrating premierships in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

“We didn’t have anyone miss a prelim (because of a birth) after that,” Scott said.

Scott avoided a similar situation last week, wife Penny and the North Melbourne coach welcoming their first child – Fletcher Charles Scott – into the world on Tuesday.

The Kangaroos coach said there was no way known he was going to miss the side’s semi-final against Geelong on Friday night.

“We talked about that extensively and Penny wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Scott said.

“She’s got really great family support and my family support, so her instruction was `you do what you have to do’.

“You’ve got responsibilities, get there when you can.”

Dockers keen to lure Demon James Frawley

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has confirmed he is interested in signing free agent James Frawley, but he hopes the tyranny of distance won’t scare the Demon away.

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Frawley flew to Perth last weekend to tour Fremantle’s club facilities, but the 25-year-old is also being heavily courted by Geelong.

The Dockers are exploring the option of adding Frawley to their list in order to offset the likely retirement of star defender Luke McPharlin.

There are rumours Fremantle are considering putting a seven-year deal on the table for Frawley, but a contract of that length appears unlikely.

Frawley is expected to command in the vicinity of $550,000 per season, and the Dockers should have room in their salary cap to accommodate that if McPharlin retires.

But Lyon said convincing Frawley to continue his career in Perth wouldn’t be an easy thing.

“I think you’d be naive to think that the travel factor isn’t a consideration (for players),” Lyon told Perth radio station 6PR.

“You have to get on the bird for a minimum of three-and-a-half hours every second week.

“There’s a price that goes with that, a loading if you like, to compete with the eastern clubs.

“We’d love the WA sons to come home, that’s a focus going forward for us. But it is difficult.

“At the end of the day we back our environment and leaders.

“We are going to have a new $107 million facility which will help us be the club that appeals.

“But our record of growing people on and off the field is even more important than that.”

Lyon said he was yet to talk to McPharlin about his future.

The 2012 All-Australian managed just 13 games this season due to quad, calf and knee issues, but there is still a chance he’ll decide to play on.

“We need to sit down and look at all the pieces,” Lyon said.

“We’ll give Luke the respect he deserves. He won’t have the final say, but he’ll have the majority of the say.

“He’s been an incredible player since I’ve been at the club.

“He’s been a real leader and driver of cultural change. So he’ll get all the respect and time he deserves.”

Lyon said there would be no aggressive cull of his player list despite Fremantle’s straight sets finals exit.

The Dockers’ flag hopes were extinguished after they coughed up a 31-point lead on the way to a 22-point semi-final defeat to Port Adelaide last Saturday.

Lyon said he was bitterly disappointed with the loss, but has vowed to keep Fremantle in premiership mode next year and beyond.

UN takes over Central Africa peacekeeping

A new UN mission has officially taken charge of peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic, with the tough task of ending ethnic and religious bloodshed there and helping bring back stability.

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The 7600-strong UN force, known by its French acronym MINUSCA, takes over from a smaller UN Security Council-mandated African deployment, MISCA, which has been stationed in the country since December.

MINUSCA will be boosted to count 12,000 soldiers and police officers.

In a rainswept ceremony at the airport serving the capital Bangui, the head of the UN’s peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, delivered a symbolic blue beret to the Cameroonian general heading MISCA, Martin Chomu Tumenta, who became commander of the MINUSCA force.

“This transfer of authority marks the successful completion of MISCA’s mandate and the beginning of MINUSCA’s military and police action” in the poor, landlocked nation, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement from UN headquarters.

He urged rival sides in Central Africa “to put an immediate end to the violence” and enable a political transition to democratic rule.

The country plunged into conflict after a coup in March 2013 by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance, the Seleka, which overthrew president Francois Bozize and made their own man, Michel Djotodia, head of state.

Influential foreign leaders in January forced Djotodia to step down after he proved incapable of preventing widespread atrocities by rogue Seleka fighters.

Communities from Central Africa’s mainly Christian majority responded by setting up vigilante forces known as “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) to seek vengeance, mostly targeting Muslim civilians whom they accused of backing Seleka.

More than a quarter of the Central African Republic’s population of 4.8 million has been displaced by the strife, while only one Muslim district remains in Bangui. Everybody else fled the killings, rape and systematic looting by anti-balaka forces.

British pair found murdered on Thai resort

The naked bodies of two British tourists have been found on a Thai beach, sparking a murder probe on the popular resort island of Koh Tao.

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The unidentified man and woman, both aged 24, were found stripped with several wounds to their bodies close to a beachside bungalow on the island, a diving hot-spot near Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand.

“They were murdered and found naked on the beach. Police were informed at 6:30 am,” local police official Jakkrapan Kaewkhao told AFP on telephone.

“Their bodies were found 30 metres from (the) bungalow,” said Jakkrapan, adding the pair had arrived in Thailand on August 25.

Police are searching for witnesses and are yet to identify a suspect or motive, he added.

An employee at the budget seaside resort where they were staying said the bodies were found behind a set of large rocks on the beach.

“It was the first time this has happened on the island. I have never seen anything like this,” the staff member added, requesting anonymity.

Koh Tao is popular with tourists but draws fewer travellers than the neighbouring Koh Phangnan, home to the hedonistic “full moon” party.

Thailand’s lucrative tourism industry has been battered in recent months after a prolonged political crisis ended a coup which saw the army blanket the country with a curfew and strict martial law.

Although the curfew was swiftly lifted from key tourist hot-spots, visitor numbers are yet to rebound.

Thailand’s military leaders have vowed to clean up the kingdom’s tourist resorts after complaints of scams, assaults and even police extortion.