Skier Lindsey Vonn is heading back to the United States for an unexpected break in the middle of the World Cup season and is unlikely to return to Europe until January. Vonn, a four-time World Cup overall champion, said in a statement she needs to get her full strength back.

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Vonn to take unplanned break

Lindsey Vonn is heading back to the United States for an unexpected break in the middle of the World Cup season and is unlikely to return to Europe until January.

After some disappointing results at a World Cup event in France, the four-time overall champion said in a statement she needs to get her full strength back before returning to the slopes after New Year’s.

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Vonn, 28, stayed two nights in a hospital in Vail, Colo., in November after suffering from severe intestinal pain.

“After talking with my family and consulting with my coaches and trainers, I have decided to take a break from the World Cup circuit,” Vonn said. “Since my intestinal infection last month, I have been struggling with my energy and strength. I believe that some time off the mountain will help me regain the physical strength that I require to compete at the level that I demand from myself.”

Earlier Monday, U.S. women’s coach Alex Hoedlmoser said the timing of Vonn’s return “depends on how she’s feeling and exactly what her condition is.”

“She’s going home for now,” Hoedlmoser said. “We’ll have to see when she’s ready. It’s a little bit unknown, but the plan is to get her back strong. … With the way the schedule has been and all the travel, she just hasn’t had a chance to get back to strength. We want her back at full strength.”

Vonn won three consecutive speed races at Lake Louise, Alberta, this season, and a super-giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 8 for her 57th career World Cup victory.

But she fared poorly in recent races in France.

On Friday in Val d’Isere, she had an uncharacteristic fall in the downhill, an event in which she is the Olympic champion. On Sunday in Courchevel, she fell again in the opening run of a giant slalom.

Shortly after the race, she posted this note on Facebook: “Hit a rock on my left ski in the GS and skied off course … struggling to find the energy I usually have … going to think hard over the next few days about my plan for the coming weeks and how to get strong again. Trying to stay positive.”

Vonn is fourth in the overall standings, 385 points behind leader Tina Maze of Slovenia.

In a recent issue of People magazine, Vonn revealed she struggled with depression in 2008 and was prescribed an antidepressant. She added she is happier these days.

In Monday’s statement, Vonn said, “I want to be emphatic that this has nothing to do with my recent interview with People magazine. I had completed that interview weeks before I was in the hospital with the intestinal infection.”


Red Bulls add Brazilian Juninho

The New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer have signed midfielder Juninho, 37, who played on Brazil’s World Cup team in 2006.

Juninho had been with Brazilian First Division team Vasco da Gama and scored 14 goals in 50 matches.

Bin Hammam leaves posts

Mohamed bin Hammam resigned from all soccer-related posts and received a new lifetime ban from FIFA, perhaps closing one of the most damaging corruption scandals to hit the sport’s world governing body.

Bin Hammam, 63, a FIFA executive-committee member from Qatar, gave up his long-running dispute with the organization after being found guilty by FIFA of “repeated violations” of its code of ethics while head of the Asian Football Confederation.

Zenit fans seek exclusions

Fans of two-time defending Russian champion Zenit St. Petersburg are calling for nonwhite and gay players to be excluded from the team.

Landscrona, the largest Zenit fan club, released a manifesto demanding an all-white, heterosexual team. It said “dark-skinned players are all but forced down Zenit’s throat now, which only brings out a negative reaction” and said gay players were “unworthy of our great city.”

Team officials quickly sought to distance themselves from such fans.

Russia has struggled to deal with racism and violence at some of its stadiums as it prepares to host the World Cup in 2018.

Black players are frequently the targets of monkey chants and some, including Anzhi Makhachkala’s Robert Carlos and Christopher Samba, have had bananas thrown at them by fans.

Several black players have singled out Zenit’s fans as particularly racist.


ATP opposes changes to Open

The ATP opposes the U.S. Open’s switch from a Sunday to a Monday final in 2013 and is not satisfied with the prize-money increase.

The USTA announced Friday total prize money for the 2013 Open will jump $4 million to a record $29.5 million. ATP officials said the increase was “appreciated” but did not go far enough.


• Golf Channel will televise the NCAA Division I golf championships starting in 2014. The men’s event will be televised in 2014 and Golf Channel will carry the men’s and women’s NCAA championships in 2015.

• Baseball and softball leaders have agreed on a name for the unified international body seeking a place in the 2020 Olympics.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation will govern both sports in their joint bid for a return to the Games. Baseball and softball, voted out by the International Olympic Committee in 2005, were last played at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The IOC will vote in September.

• Monday was the 93rd day of the NHL lockout and no negotiations are scheduled.

• Arena and USA Swimming agreed on an eight-year deal in which the swimwear company will serve as exclusive sponsor of the U.S. national team and create new uniforms.

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