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Originally published July 21, 2014 at 7:27 PM | Page modified July 21, 2014 at 7:54 PM

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Michael Cooper, Atlanta Dream coach, has tongue cancer

Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper has early stage tongue cancer and has taken a leave from the team. Cooper, 58, is to have surgery this week and is expected to return to the team in about two weeks.


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WNBA

Cooper has tongue cancer, takes leave from coaching Atlanta

Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper has early stage tongue cancer and has taken a leave from the team.

Former NBA player Cooper, 58, will have surgery this week and a full recovery is expected, Dream officials said.

The 58-year-old coach is expected to miss about two weeks, and assistant Karleen Thompson will be the interim coach.

“I’m fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection,” Cooper said. “I know the team will be in good hands with coach Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon.”

Cooper is in his first season with Atlanta (15-6), which leads the Eastern Conference.

Soccer

6 South American players refuse to return to Donetsk in Ukraine

Six South Americans — five Brazilians and one Argentine — have refused to return to Ukraine to play for their team in the troubled city of Donetsk, risking possible fines and suspensions for breach of contract.

The players remained in France after Ukrainian league champion Shakhtar Donetsk’s exhibition match against Lyon on Saturday. The Ukrainian military is attempting to retake Donetsk from pro-Russian rebels.

The six missing players include two of Shakhtar’s key Brazilian midfielders, Alex Teixeira and Douglas Costa, as well as Argentine striker Facundo Ferreyra. The other Brazilians are Ismaily, Fred and Dentinho.

“If they don’t come, then in the first instance they will suffer,” the team’s billionaire owner, Rinat Akhmetov, said in a statement.

Report: Colombian Rodriguez to leave Monaco for Real Madrid

World Cup scoring leader James Rodriguez, 23, of Colombia is leaving Monaco to play for Real Madrid of Spain, according to media reports.

Rodriguez scored six goals in the World Cup in Brazil, including a spectacular volley against Uruguay in the second round.

Gerrard to depart national team

England captain Steven Gerrard announced his retirement from the national team to focus on playing for Liverpool in the Premier League.

Gerrard, a 34-year-old midfielder, made 114 appearances for England over 14 years, ranking third on the all-time list headed by former goalkeeper Peter Shilton (125 matches).

“To ensure I can keep playing to a high level and giving everything to Liverpool Football Club, I believe this is the right decision,” Gerrard said.

FC Dallas player is out for season

FC Dallas midfielder Hendry Thomas will miss the rest of the Major League Soccer season because of a torn knee ligament. Thomas, 29, was injured in a 5-2 victory over Carolina in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals July 9.

Olympics

2018 Games official steps down

The head of the organizing committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, resigned.

Former provincial governor Kim Jin-sun said new leadership and a “stronger system” is needed to complete preparations for the Games.

Kim was elected president of the organizing committee in late 2011 after PyeongChang won the right to host the first Winter Olympics in South Korea. He was re-elected last year for another two-year term.

“PyeongChang 2018 is at a turning point for the latter half of its Games preparation, which requires more detailed planning and execution,” Kim said.

“At this critical juncture, I believe that PyeongChang 2018 needs new leadership and a stronger system that will effectively carry out various Games-related projects.”

Auto racing

Driver Stewart gains confidence

Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart drove a sprint car last week for the first time since he broke his leg in an extracurricular race in August. He missed the final 15 weeks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with the injury.

On Friday, Stewart won a sprint-car event at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Michigan.

“It was a confidence boost for me,” he said. “When you haven’t won, and you haven’t been necessarily a contender to be in the top two or three each week (in NASCAR) and having those opportunities to win races, you start questioning what is it in the equation that you’re missing.”

Stewart, 19th in the Cup standings, is scheduled to compete in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

ELSEWHERE

• Another sports power couple’s engagement is off.

Two months after golfer Rory McIlroy broke off his engagement to Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko said she has called off her planned wedding to Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin, who plays for the Washington Capitals, is a three-time NHL most valuable player.

The two had been together since 2011 and became engaged in December 2012.

In a statement, Kirilenko said there were “a lot of reasons” behind her decision and added, “Our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha (Ovechkin) as a person and as an athlete and I respectfully wish him further sporting success.”

Bob McNamara, an All-America running back for Minnesota in the 1950s and later a major fundraiser for the university, died Sunday after a long illness. He was 82.

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