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Little black book tells tales of NY

A New York prostitute known to specialise in sado-masochism could scupper the career of one of America's best-known sports commentators - from beyond the grave. Nadia Frey, described by New York tabloid papers as the "Manhattan dominatrix", was found dead, in her West Side apartment at the weekend. In the room were all the tools of her trade - whips, chains, leathers and so on - but also, crucially, her contacts book.

In Ms Frey's book are said to be the names of a police officer, a retired judge and a senior military official. The New York tabloid, the Post, said - in a line that will cause shudders in East Coast establishment circles - that the police now had "years' worth" of Frey's appointment books.

One of the names in the contacts book, it was revealed yesterday, is that of Marv Albert, a 53-year-old sports commentator who has worked for the NBC network for many years and is a household name in the US. Two months ago, to universal disbelief, he was charged with assault after a woman accused him of inviting her to a hotel room, forcing her to perform oral sex, throwing her on a bed, and biting her.

At the time, Albert denied all the charges, and the reputation of the woman making the allegations was called into question. Mr Albert was nonetheless indicted and his case is to be heard before a Virginia court in the autumn. NBC said they would honour Albert's contract and not take him off the air, arguing that he was innocent until proved guilty.

The appearance of Mr Albert's name - or that of an exact namesake - in Ms Frey's address book could cause NBC to reconsider. The Christian Coalition, a fundamentalist family-values group, is extremely influential and all branches of the US media, but especially television, are under constant pressure to keep day- and prime-time broadcasts wholesome and free of taint - above all, sexual taint.