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Sharper pleads not guilty

Former NFL safety Darren Sharper pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he drugged and raped two women he met at a West Hollywood nightclub, while the emergence of a new accuser in Florida left him under investigation in five states.

Lawyers for Sharper, who played in the NFL from 1997 to 2010 primarily with the Green Bay Packers, said they would prove that any sexual contact Sharper engaged in was welcomed.

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But a prosecutor pointed out the many investigations against Sharper in places including Tucson, Ariz., Las Vegas and New Orleans, and asked a judge for $10 million bail.

The judge rejected that as excessive, though increased it from $200,000 to $1 million.

The judge ordered Sharper to remain in Los Angeles, stay away from nightclubs and not be alone with any woman he did not know before October, when the first allegations emerged.

College football

Bielema expects slow-down rule to pass next month

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he expects a much-scrutinized proposal to prohibit snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds run off the 40-second play clock to pass when the NCAA playing rules oversight panel votes March 6.

The former Wisconsin coach pointed to the recent death of California football player Ted Agu during a training run, saying the inability to substitute an injured player between plays could lead to injury or death.

A host of up-tempo, no-huddle coaches, including Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, have come out publicly against the proposed rule.

An angry judge lashed out as he sentenced two men who pleaded guilty in the savage beating of a San Francisco Giants fan at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, calling them cowards and a nightmare for people who go to games.

Judge George Lomeli also called out defendant Louie Sanchez for smirking during the hearing on the 2011 beating that left 45-year-old victim Bryan Stow brain damaged and permanently disabled, requiring 24-hour-a-day care.

Sanchez, 31,was sentenced to eight years in prison with credit for 1,086 days. Co-defendant Marvin Norwood was sentenced to four years. His credit for time already in custody appeared to account for at least the majority of that term.


MLS buys Chivas USA

The troubled tenure of Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes as owners of Chivas USA has ended with Major League Soccer buying the team.

MLS said it had assumed operation of the team, which had the second-worst record in the league last year at 6-20-8 and averaged a league-low attendance of 8,366 at home in Southern California. The league said it will sell the team to an ownership group committed to keeping the team in the Los Angeles area.

In another matter, MLS commissioner Don Garber said Atlanta, Minneapolis, Sacramento, San Diego and Texas sites are under consideration as expansion cites.

Liverpool and Manchester City will play at Yankee Stadium on July 30 as part of a multicity tournament featuring some of Europe’s top clubs.

The eight-team tournament, the International Champions Cup, will take place from July 26 to Aug. 4 and include games in nearly a dozen U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Washington, Dallas, Denver and Phoenix.

Liverpool and Manchester City will be joined in the field by their Premier League rival Manchester United, as well as the Italian giants AC Milan, Internazionale and Roma. Real Madrid, which won the tournament last year, will return, and Olympiakos of Greece will complete the field.


Serena, Venus in semifinals

Top-ranked Serena Williams had little trouble joining sister Venus in the Dubai Championships semifinals in United Arab Emirates.

Serena, playing her first tournament since a fourth-round loss at the Australian Open, had little trouble bypassing fifth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-2, 6-2.

Venus Williams reached her fourth Dubai semifinal with a 6-3, 7-5 win over qualifier Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal showed no problem with his tender back in his second match since returning from the injury, defeating fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the Rio Open in Rio de Janeiro.


Islanders lose captain

The New York Islanders lost their star and captain John Tavares for the rest of the season after an injury at the Sochi Games. Tavares has an MCL and meniscus tear in his left knee, the team said.


• Tennessee defensive lineman Danny O’Brien and ex-Tennessee linebacker Dontavis Sapp will have all charges against them stemming from a Feb. 9 party dropped in six months if they fulfill terms of an agreement.

• Chattanooga extended football coach Russ Huesman’s deal, keeping the two-time Southern Conference coach of the year under contract through 2018.

• The U.S. women’s soccer team will host China in an exhibition game April 6 in Commerce City, Colo.

• American John Isner held off an upset bid by Dudi Sela of Israel, winning 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) to advance to the quarterfinals of the Delray Beach (Fla.) Open.

Miguel Cotto will move up in weight to challenge Sergio Martinez of Argentina for his piece of the middleweight title June 7 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Seattle Times news services

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