The Sports Blotter

by Matt Taibbi



Somebody better get Floyd Mayweather, Jr. an opponent fast. The world lightweight champion seems to get in trouble for hitting women as soon as he's idle too long. Then matters are made worse by the fact that the courts keep setting dates for him to appear. It's one thing to charge a man and threaten his liberty. Why the additional complication of a court date? Is nothing sacred?

Mayweather went through this little dance last week, when a court in Las Vegas issued an arrest warrant after he failed to appear to face a felony battery charge. The following day, Mayweather's attorney, Karen Winckler, appeared in court on Mayweather's behalf and the arrest warrant was dropped. But Mayweather still faces up to five years in prison for the offense.

Mayweather is accused of hitting the mother of his three children at a Las Vegas nightclub on Dec. 27. Two years ago, after a long layoff and just before he won his first lightweight title bout, Mayweather was arrested on two counts of misdemeanor domestic battery. Because he was convicted, he is now subject to Nevada's third-strike law, which automatically makes the Dec. 27 incident a felony.

Considered by many to be the greatest junior lightweight boxer of all time (31-0 21 KOs), Mayweather is also probably the most notorious refers-to-himself-in-the-third-person professional athlete since Doug Flutie in his heyday. "Floyd Mayweather doesn't back away from a fight," he is fond of saying. Now, a court date, that's something else. His next appearance is April 23. He won't have a fight until May 22, against an as-yet undetermined opponent.



 The first March-Madness-related sportscrime went into the books earlier this week, as two players from the immortal Murray State Racer program—the Atlanta bracket's 12th seed—were arrested on a variety of charges in a strange incident.

Juniors Kelvin Brown and Adrian Chiles were busted on pot possession charges earlier this week after police conducted what appears to be an impromptu raid on their off-campus apartment.

According to news reports, police responded to a 911 hangup call at Chiles's apartment. When they got there, Chiles said that he and a girlfriend were the only people there. Police asked to come in, and found Brown hiding in a closet. Brown, apparently, had an outstanding warrant on him for allegedly driving off without paying for gas at a local gas station. Police arrested him, then got a search warrant and discovered—horror of horrors—marijuana and a bong at the residence. The two were charged with marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Chiles was additionally charged with hindering prosecution—i.e. lying to the police about Brown being in the apartment—and Brown was also slapped with the unlawful taking of an amount of less than $300 in connection with the gas station incident (isn't it strange to think that legislators actually had to spend time coming up with charges like "unlawful taking of an amount of less than $300?").

It is not known yet whether the two will compete in the tournament. Brown is the Racers' second-leading rebounder, while Chiles is the starting point guard. Not that it matters much; the 12th-seeded Racers are due to play fifth seed Illinois on Friday, and are not expected to survive. Then again, stranger things can happen in March Madness. In any case, both players are out on bail.


 Viktor Petrenko, the world Olympic champion figure skater, became the third Russian skater in recent history to be sentenced for driving drunk in Connecticut.

Petrenko, who originally hails from Ukraine (you can tell by the "enko" at the end of his name) was arrested on Jan. 28 after driving his car into a utility pole in Simsbury. In possession of the perhaps the greatest sense of balance in the world among male athletes, Petrenko, 34, was unable to walk in a straight line or stand on one leg. He told police he had had a glass of wine, then refused to take a breathalyzer test. The refusal meant an automatic revocation of his driver's license for at least six months.

This past week, Petrenko agreed to enter a rehabilitation program that, if successfully completed, will allow his record to be cleared. The program is not all that difficult; it consists of a weekend in New Hampshire. While athletes from the former Soviet bloc are not known for their ability to go through a weekend without drinking, it is to be assumed that Petrenko will be able to return to competitive skating fairly soon.

Petrenko is one of a number of Russian Olympic athletes who train at the Connecticut International Skating Center in Newington. One of the others was Alexei Yagudin, whom readers may recall has a history of repeated alcohol incidents, among them a DUI in Avon, CT earlier this year that was wiped from his record in similar fashion. In 1999, Yagudin—then 19—was additionally thrown off the John Hancock Ice Skating Champions' tour for cursing out a member of the media while drunk at a skate show. He also caused a stir when he argued, apparently drunkenly, with a security guard at a New York show earlier that year.

In 1997, of course, there was another high-profile Russian skater DUI—Oksana Baiul's arrest after she crashed a car in Bloomfield while driving over 100 mph. She escaped serious injury and also had her record wiped clean after a similar adult education program. There is no word yet from the Connecticut authorities on whether a special program will be designed specifically for Russian skaters.

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