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July 25, 2007

Cycling hit by more doping charges

The Tour de France and the entire sport of cycling took another hit Wednesday when it was announced that a second rider in the past week had failed a urine test that looks for high testosterone levels as well as banned performance enhancing drugs.

Cristian Moreni, 34-year-old rider for Cofidis, failed the test he took last week after last Thursday's stage from Marseille to Montpellier. The test revealed testosterone levels that were higher than normal, indicating doping. Another rider, Patrik Sinkewitz, was also revealed as having high testosterone levels earlier on in the Tour. He had already left the race after a crash when the results were announced.

Earlier in the week, Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping as well. After testing positive, his entire team was asked to withdraw from the Tour.

These latest doping charges come after 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis was revealed as also having high testosterone levels, putting his first-place finish in question. Other riders have been under scrutiny as well.

At the start of the 16th stage today eight teams, including Cofidis, protested the surge in doping charges by delaying the start of the stage. They asked for all teams to abide by a charter passed in 2005 that asks all teams to avoid riders that have been implicated in doping charges.

This chain of events has been covered constantly by many news media websites. The BBC covered the development with Vinokourov as well as today's story about Moreni. The coverage, although somewhat short, was complete and discussed pass doping charges so any person who reads the story is well aware of how much of an issue this really is for the sport. A site that specializes in cycling news also covered the story. Velo News was the quickest to cover the story, most likely because cycling is their only focus. The New York Times covered the Vinokourov story as well but as of now had not updated its site on the latest developments.

July 5, 2007

Children used as shields at Pakistan mosque

Militants who took control over a mosque in Islamabad are using women and children as human shields, the Pakistan government said Thursday. The government has been putting pressure on the hundreds of people inside to surrender since militant students took over the Red Mosque. The students who took over the mosque demanded Sharia, or Islamic Law. The students are blamed for recent kidnappings, including those of civilians, Chinese nationals and Pakistani police.

The student militants' leader was caught trying to escape wearing a woman's burqa. Cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz said that 850 students remained inside the mosque, including 600 women and girls. Aziz said that they were not being used as shields and chose to stay. He also appealed to the students to either leave the mosque if possible or surrender.

Pakistan's Deputy Information Minister Tariq Aziz Khan said that people who have surrended have said they were telling women and children inside that as long as the women and children were inside, the army would not attack the militants.

According to Ahmed Aftab Khan Sherpao, Pakistan's interior minister, there are 50 or 60 militants inside who are armed with weapons, grenades and petrol bombs.

Police and soldiers have surrounded the mosque and imposed an in definite curfew surrounding the area. Supplies to the mosque have also been cut off.

The story was covered by both Reuters and CNN. The stories were almost identical in content and differed only slightly in style. The only major difference that helped the Reuters story was the background information that explained why the Pakistan government into action against the mosque.