Tomba accused of assault

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A photographer accused the temperamental Italian skier, Alberto Tomba, of assault yesterday and said he had filed a complaint with police.

Riccardo Schirmacher alleged that the Olympic and world champion felled him with a karate kick to the neck and then punched and kicked him after both left a party in Florence on Monday night.

"I thought an avalanche had descended on me," Schirmacher said. "I've reported him [to the police].''

Tomba was not available for comment but Schirmacher, who had a hospital check-up for bruises to the neck, wrist and thigh, said the skier had apologised.

Tomba had asked him to stop taking photographs during the party. The photographer said he had continued and also photographed Tomba later on the street.

Tomba has a reputation for outbursts. Shortly before Christmas, he hurled a magnum of wine and a glass trophy at a photographer who sold nude pictures of him to an Italian magazine. He said last week he was fed up with media pressure and would take a three-month break before deciding whether to continue his skiing career.