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Michal CIZEK / AFP

World champion sprinter Christian Coleman will appeal his two-year ban from athletics for anti-doping violations, his manager said Wednesday.

“The decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal established under World Athletics Rules is unfortunate and will be immediately appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” Emanuel Hudson tweeted from the account of his HSI company.

“Mr. Coleman has nothing further to say until such time as the matter can be heard in the Court of jurisdiction.”

Coleman, who won the men’s 100 metres at last year’s World Championships in Doha in a world-leading time for the season of 9.76 seconds, was provisionally suspended for three ‘whereabouts failures’ in June.

World Athletics’ Disciplinary Tribunal upheld the charge and banned the 24-year-old American for two years, backdated to May 14, 2020.

Should the ban remain in place, Coleman would miss next year’s Olympic Games in Japan, where he would have been among the favourites to win 100m gold.

Coleman, who is also the 60m world record holder, only ran in the 4x100m relay heats in his first Olympic appearance in Rio de Janeiro four years ago. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) charged Coleman for missed tests in January and December 2019, as well as for a “filing failure” last April.

To prove an anti-doping violation, an athlete has to have committed three whereabouts failures within 12 months.

Coleman previously escaped suspension on a technicality ahead of last September’s World Championships.

Those three whereabouts failures were recorded on June 6, 2018, January 16, 2019 and April 26, 2019.

However, Coleman had successfully argued that the first missed case should have been backdated to the first day of the quarter — April 1, 2018 — meaning the three failures fell just outside the required 12-month period.

But now the missed test on December 9, 2019, added to the two failures in January and April, has seen Coleman suspended.

-AFP

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The Nigerian Army has insisted that soldiers did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos State.

Although they admitted that soldiers were deployed to ‘restore normalcy’ in the area, the Acting Deputy Director, 81 Division, Army Public Relations, Osoba Olaniyi in a statement on Tuesday, described reports of a massacre by the officers as “untrue, unfounded, and aimed at causing anarchy in the country”.

Olaniyi also stated that the decision to involve the military was taken by the Lagos State Government after a 24-hour curfew was imposed.

“From the onset of the onset #EndSARS, there was no time personnel of the 81 Division, Nigerian Army Lagos, were involved,” the statement read.

“This was a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released, and weapons carted away.

“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that the LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.”

 

 

This is coming days after the Nigerian Army had been accused of opening fire on the protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday, October 20.

The incident came hours after the state government declared a 24-hour curfew as part of efforts to stop the violence which had broken out in some parts of the state by criminal elements hijacking the protests.

Although the curfew was to commence at 4:00 pm, but later shifted to commence for 9:00 pm, many were still seen protesting across the state.

At the Lekki Toll Gate which had been one of the major converging points, peaceful and unarmed protesters were also still seen gathered in large numbers.

The situation, however, took a turn for the worse around 7:00 pm when the security operatives stormed the area and started shooting sporadically.

Although videos that later surfaced online showed men in military uniform firing the gunshots, the military immediately debunked the allegations, describing them as ‘fake news’.

More to follow.

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.PASCAL PAVANI / AFP

Australia revealed Wednesday that female passengers on 10 planes flying out of Doha were forced to endure “appalling” physical examinations, as Qatar expressed regret for the distress caused to the women.

The Gulf emirate had already been facing a huge hit to its reputation after reports emerged that women were removed from a Sydney-bound Qatar Airways flight and forced to undergo vaginal inspections on October 2.

The searches were carried after a newborn baby had been abandoned at Doha airport. Qatar’s government said Wednesday in its first account of the events that the baby had been wrapped in plastic and left to die in a rubbish bin.

But Australia continued to pile pressure on Qatar, with Foreign Minister Marise Payne announcing that the number of planes targeted was much greater than a single flight.

She told a Senate committee that women on “10 aircraft in total” had been subject to the searches, including 18 women — including 13 Australians — on the flight to Sydney.

AFP understands one French woman on the Sydney-bound plane was also among them.

Payne did not detail the destinations of the other flights, adding she was unaware if any Australian women were on those planes.

Payne had already described the incidents as “grossly disturbing” and “offensive”.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also weighed into the controversy on Wednesday, describing the treatment of the women as “appalling” and “unacceptable”.

“As a father of a daughter, I could only shudder at the thought that anyone would, Australian or otherwise, would be subjected to that,” he said.

Qatar is a conservative Muslim monarchy, where sex and childbirth out of wedlock are punishable by jail.

Ahead of its hosting of football’s World Cup in 2022, it has struggled to reassure critics that its promises on women’s rights, labour relations, and democracy are credible.

– ‘Distress’ –

Facing potentially devastating commercial and reputational damage, Qatar’s government released a statement Wednesday to explain its version of events while promising to ensure the future “safety, security and comfort” of passengers.

“While the aim of the urgently-decided search was to prevent the perpetrators of the horrible crime from escaping, the State of Qatar regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveler caused by this action,” the statement.

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani had ordered an investigation and the results would be shared with international partners, it added.

However, the statement did not specifically detail that women had been forcibly examined, only referring to a “search for the parents”.

The statement said the newborn baby was a girl and had been “concealed” in a plastic bag and buried under garbage in the bin.

“The baby girl was rescued from what appeared to be a shocking and appalling attempt to kill her. The infant is now safe under medical care in Doha,” it said.

Human Rights Watch called Wednesday for the airport incident to trigger much greater reforms to protect women.

“In Qatar and across the Gulf region, sexual relations outside of wedlock are criminalised, meaning a pregnant woman who is not married, even if the pregnancy is the result of rape, may end up facing arrest and prosecution,” the watchdog said in a statement.

“Qatar should prohibit forced gynaecological exams and investigate and bring to account any individuals who authorised any demeaning treatment. It should also decriminalise sex outside of wedlock.”

Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines that has maintained flights to Australia since the country closed its international border early in the pandemic and restricted the return of its own citizens.

-AFP

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Voters check the voter’s roll at a polling station, some begin to cast their votes on October 28, 2020. AFP

 

Tanzanians began casting their ballots Wednesday morning in an election overshadowed by opposition fears the vote will not be free and fair after years of repression under President John Magufuli, who is seeking a second term in office.

In semi-autonomous Zanzibar hundreds of men and women formed separate queues from before dawn in Garagara neighbourhood outside the capital Stone Town, where on Tuesday police fired teargas, live rounds and beat up civilians in the neighbourhood.

Long deemed a haven of stability in East Africa, observers say Tanzania has seen the stifling of democracy and a crackdown on freedom of speech under the 60-year-old Magufuli and his Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has been in power since 1961.

In the days leading up to the polls, the opposition said 10 people have died in violence in Zanzibar, while major social media networks — such as WhatsApp and Twitter — have been blocked across Tanzania.

Mnao Haji, 48, queuing to vote in Garagara, said she hoped the election “will be peaceful” despite a history of contested polls.

“During the clashes with police teargas fell inside my house. I screamed, crying, I was helpless,” she said as heavily armed officers and soldiers looked on.

On mainland Tanzania, Magufuli’s main challenger among 15 presidential candidates is Tundu Lissu, 52, of the Chadema opposition party.

He returned to the country in July after three years abroad recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in what he believes was a politically-motivated assassination attempt.

Lissu’s return has reinvigorated an opposition demoralised by a ban on political rallies outside of election time, multiple arrests and attacks.

He expressed fears during the campaign that the polls would be rigged, leading to a seven day ban of his rallies for “seditious” language.

“I have witnessed through the campaign that Tanzanians are ready for changes and I believe they will turn out to vote tomorrow,” he said at his final rally Tuesday.

In Tanzania’s capital Dodoma, voters began casting their votes at Jamhuri Secondary School.

“It’s one of my important activities today. I don’t want to miss voting at all,” said Omary Msongolo.

In the northern town of Moshi, near Africa’s highest peak of Kilimanjaro, Nestor Shoo urged the electoral commission to show “impartiality, so that there can be peace”.

The opposition and analysts have expressed serious concerns about the fairness of the election, pointing in particular to a polls body comprising commissioners personally appointed by Magufuli.

‘A Farce’

On Zanzibar, citizens vote for their own president and lawmakers, as well as for the Tanzanian president.

In a boost for the opposition’s chances, Zitto Kabwe, the head of the popular ACT-Wazalendo party, has endorsed Lissu for the presidency on the mainland.

In return, Chadema is backing veteran opposition candidate Seif Sharif Hamad in his sixth bid for the presidency in Zanzibar, this time against CCM candidate Hussein Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

Zanzibar has a history of tense elections plagued with violence and irregularities and the opposition has again accused the ruling party of seeking to steal the vote.

“How can you have an election were you have teargas everywhere and live ammunition? It is in no case a fair election, it is just a farce,” said Hamad.

Increasing intolerance

Magufuli, elected in 2015, at first made wildly popular moves such as curbing foreign travel for government officials or showing up in person to make sure civil servants were doing their work.

Then, he banned political rallies and became increasingly intolerant of dissent.

A series of tough media laws were passed, arrests of journalists, activists and opposition members soared and several opposition members were killed.

Magufuli touts his expansion of free education, rural electrification and infrastructure projects such as railways, a hydropower dam and the revival of the national airline.

However analysts say while the economy grew at an impressive pre-coronavirus average of six percent, there was little job creation and aggressive tax collection has hurt the private sector and made doing business harde. The IMF expects growth to slow to 1.9 percent this year.

The election campaign has taken place with little regard to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tanzania stopped giving out official data on infections in April, and Magufuli has declared the country Covid-free, which he attributes to the power of prayer.

On the mainland, just over 29 million registered voters will cast their ballots, while some 566,000 will vote in Zanzibar from 7 am (0400 GMT) until 4 pm (1300 GMT).

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Two people were reported killed and 26 others missing as Typhoon Molave hit central Vietnam Wednesday, knocking down trees and tearing roofs off homes in some of the worst destruction seen in years.

Authorities relocated around 375,000 people to safety, cancelled hundreds of flights and closed schools and beaches ahead of the typhoon, which made landfall south of Danang packing winds of up to 145 kilometres per hour (85 miles per hour).

State media said at least two people were killed in Quang Ngai province while trying to protect their homes from the storm.

“The people of Vietnam are tough, yet this is among the worst destruction ever seen in many areas,” said Vietnam Red Cross Society president Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu.

“The relentless storms and flooding are taking a devastating human toll, further destroying livelihoods and isolating millions of people.”

Officials were also searching for 26 missing fishermen, with the storm — Vietnam’s fourth this month — bringing waves up to six metres high as power was cut off across the region.

Navy and surveillance vessels were deployed to look for the crew members after their two boats disappeared after they attempted to dock, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said.

A fishing ban has been in place since Tuesday, while all airports in the area were closed until further notice.

The typhoon comes on the back of weeks of severe flooding and landslides that have claimed 130 lives and damaged or destroyed more than 310,000 homes, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Close to 1.2 million people were in “severe danger” and in need of relief, the IFRC warned.

“These relentless storms are yet another example of the devastating impact of climate change,” Red Cross spokesman Christopher Rassi said.

Vietnam is prone to natural disasters in the rainy season between June and November, with central coastal provinces commonly impacted, but the storms have notably worsened in recent years.

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