Inside Lines: Saints and drugs sinners go marching in at Wembley

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The Independent Online

Today's American football match at Wembley between the NFL's New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers takes place with the spectre of a major drugs bust hangingover it. Two of the Saints, it transpires, may well be sinners, having been named as allegedly testing positive for a banned diuretic that can also mask the use of steroids. However, running back Deuce McAllister and defensive end Will Smith will still be in the line-up, as results of their B samples have yet to be confirmed. The pair were among several players cited in a US television report. The NFL decline to comment, but point out that they conduct rigorous dope checks, with 10 players tested after every game.

Khan fights own corner

Amir Khan will be disappointed not to have his new US guru Freddie Roach in his corner for his comeback, confirmed yesterday for London's ExCeL venue on 6 December. Roach, currently re-educating Khan in Los Angeles, has a prior commitment with Manny Pacquiao, who fights Oscar De La Hoya on the same night. Plans for Khan to appear on this Las Vegas bill have not worked out, so a former trainer, Dean Powell, will look after him in London. Khan, who says Roach is "putting things right" after his shock 54-second defeat by Breidis Prescott, could meet the undefeated English lightweight champion Martin Gethin.

Why Brailsford's no dope

While the NFL may have its problems, no event is more drugs-infested than the Tour de France, which is why it is heartening to hear the British cycling chief, Dave Brailsford, who talks on this page of his plans for a British team in 2010, insist that his top priority will be to see it is clean. "It's got to be," he says. "Anyone who understands where we are coming from knows that any inclination towards doping would be unthinkable. God forbid, should anyone do it in our set-up they might have to deal with the authorities but I hate to think what we might do with them first. What happened in the Tour this year is beyond comprehension. How thick and crazy can any individual be to potentially ruin a sport?" Brailsford also has mixed views about the possible return of Lance Armstrong. "What intrigues me is what motivates the guy to come back into an arena he left as an icon. It's quite smart of him to say he's doing it for a charity, so if he loses he can say: 'I am not here to win, I'm here for the charity'. He can't lose, but whether it is good for cycling, I'm not sure. It's just going to create a side-circus."

Time to curl up and die

When winter finally gets a grip, we'll find the nearest hole in the ice and fall through it. Such a penance is in order after suggesting that Torvill and Dean were Britain's last Winter Olympics gold medallists. Who can forget Rhona Martin and the bewitching broomsticks that swept her team to curling success in Salt Lake City six years ago? Alas, we did, as several Scottish readers have icily pointed out.

Mills gets sinking feeling

Sir Keith Mills, a principal architect of London's winning Olympic bid, continues to resist Government overtures to take over the chair at Sport England, now vacant for over a year. The quango have also lost well-respected deputy chair Ged Roddy, who resigned last week. Mills, 57, wants to concentrate on his role as a board member of England's 2018 football World Cup bid and, as a successful yachtsman, Britain's America's Cup challenge with Team Origin. As he is also a Tottenham director, best not mention sinking ships.