By Nick Carey.
Tennis first, and one of the Czech Republic's top players in recent years, Petr Korda, who was banned from playing professionally in 1998 following a positive drug test, and who recently announced his return to the international circuit, officially retired from the ATP tour on Tuesday, after being defeated by Slovak Martin Hromec, seeded 146th, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7.
Korda, who won the Australian Open in 1998, was for a time the world's number-two tennis player. He then tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone during Wimbledon in 1998. Despite proclaiming his innocence, and repeated appeals against the decision, Korda was banned from playing for one year. He was also forced to return 660,000 dollars in prize money that he had won before his case was decided.
Petra Korda then tried to make a comeback in 1999, but after failing to qualify for Wimbledon, he decided to retire from tennis altogether. The thirty-two-year-old Czech player then announced a few weeks ago that he would play at the Prague Challenger event, which is part of the ATP tour, in the first week of December, because, said Korda, his father's birthday is on December 5th.
Korda now says that he will examine his options before deciding where to go from here. He will not, he claimed at a press conference after his defeat on Tuesday, join the Czech Republic's Davis Cup squad as a coach, at least in the near future, because Czech tennis officials refused to support him during his doping case.
On to winter sports now, and it's bad news for the North Bohemian town of Liberec. The town was meant to host a World Cup ski-jumping event on December 9th and 10th, but due to a lack of snow and unseasonably warm weather, the International Ski Federation has cancelled the event. Local organisers said that poor weather forecasts had ruined any hope that the event could be held on artificial snow. The event will instead be held in Engelberg in Switzerland later this month.
And finally a very quick look at football. With the end of the autumn part of the season, feverish transfer negotiations are underway between Czech clubs. Although Sparta Prague, who currently head the first division by a wide margin, are playing their cards very close to their chests, there are widespread rumours that Lazzaro Liuni and Rastislav Michalik will be bought from Liberec. Sparta have refused to discuss the matter until official transfer announcements are made next week.