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Monday’s Sports in Brief

March 8, 2022 GMT

PRO FOOTBALL

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for the 2022 season for betting on NFL games in 2021.

The suspension announced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is for activity that took place while Ridley was away from the team addressing mental health concerns. The league says the suspension will carry “through at least the conclusion of the 2022 season.”

The NFL says the betting took place during a five-day period in late November 2021. Ridley was placed on the non-football illness list following Week 8 last season, which ended Nov. 1.

A league investigation uncovered no evidence inside information was used or that any game was compromised by Ridley’s betting, Goodell’s announcement said. Nor was there evidence suggesting Falcons coaches, players or staff were aware of Ridley’s betting activity.

PRO BASKETBALL

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Gregg Popovich tied Don Nelson’s NBA record with his 1,335th career victory as a coach in the San Antonio Spurs’ 117-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Popovich chose to ignore the achievement, as he has many others during his illustrious 26-year tenure leading San Antonio. He didn’t mention it to players after the victory, and he didn’t take any questions about the record during a brief, three-question session with reporters after.

The Spurs had lost four straight with Popovich on the precipice of matching the record, and they were in danger of extending that skid with a late collapse even as Lakers star LeBron James sat the game out with a sore left knee.

Popovich will try to pass Nelson when San Antonio hosts the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

HOCKEY

The NHL suspended its dealings with the Russia-based KHL, a move that could make it more difficult for teams to sign players from there.

The NHL told its teams to cease contact with KHL counterparts and Russia-based agents as part of the suspension of the memorandum of understanding between the leagues. They can continue to communicate with North American agents certified by the NHL Players’ Association but may have more difficulty completing agreements.

Daily Faceoff first reported the NHL cutting cites with the KHL. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the decision in an email to The Associated Press.

It’s the league’s latest move to sever ties with Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

SOCCER

LONDON (AP) — FIFA intervened to allow foreign players and coaches based in Russia to leave their clubs, although only for the rest of the season.

Clubs in other countries will be allowed to sign up to two players who had been at clubs in Russia or Ukraine outside of the normal transfer window periods.

Ukraine’s league has been suspended since war engulfed the country, and its players are also allowed to temporarily leave until June 30.

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FIFPRO and the organization representing the world’s soccer leagues — the World Leagues Forum — sought permission for Russia-based players to terminate their contracts. But they were told by FIFA that players and coaches “will have the right to unilaterally suspend their employment contracts with the (Football Union of) Russia-affiliated clubs in question until the end of the season in Russia,” which is June 30.

TENNIS

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Alexander Zverev was put on probation for one year by the ATP for violently hitting the chair umpire’s stand repeatedly with his racket following a loss in doubles at the Mexico Open.

If Zverev receives a code violation that results in a fine for unsportsmanlike conduct or for “verbal or physical abuse of an official, opponent, spectator or any other person while on-court or on-site,” he will be suspended from ATP events for eight weeks and fined an additional $25,000, the men’s tennis tour announced.

Zverev, who is currently ranked No. 3 and was the runner-up at the 2020 U.S. Open, has until Friday to appeal the ruling of Miro Bratoev, the ATP senior vice president of rules and competition.

Bratoev conducted a review of what happened last month in Acapulco, Mexico, and determined that Zverev committed what is termed aggravated behavior under the major offense section of the ATP rulebook.

JUDO

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The International Judo Federation has removed the titles and jobs Vladimir Putin and a long-time Kremlin-supporting oligarch held at the organization.

“The International Judo Federation announces that Mr. Vladimir Putin and Mr. Arkady Rotenberg have been removed from all positions held in the International Judo Federation,” the Budapest-based governing body said in a statement late Sunday.

Putin’s honorary presidency of the IJF was suspended last week with the organization citing “the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine.”

The Russian president is an avid judoka and attended the sport at the 2012 London Olympics.

Rotenberg is a long-time friend of Putin from their home city of St. Petersburg and was a member of the IJF executive committee as “development manager.”