BRISTOL, Conn., July 31 (UPI) -- A man believed to have Russian underworld connections was arrested Wednesday in Italy on charges that he conspired to fix the ice-dancing competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, according to a report by ESPN.
The sports cable network, quoting a European law enforcement source, said the charges, filed in the United States, allege that Alimzan Tokhtakhounov conspired to make sure the French team of Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat would win the gold medal in ice dancing.
The team won by a 5-4 vote of the judges in February at the Salt Lake Games. Anissina, born in Russia, skated for the French team.
The Russian team of Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbukh finished second.
The network said that Tokhtakhounov likely will extradited to the United States to face wire and mail fraud and sports bribery charges.
Off-season baseball settlement suggested
NEW YORK, July 31 (UPI) -- A leading figure in the major league baseball talks says players don't necessarily have to strike this season if negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement stalls.
Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball's vice president of labor relations and human resources, suggested the matter might be handled best in the off-season.
But, as negotiations continued Wednesday players appeared steadfast in their belief the prospect of a strike before the playoffs was their best avenue to a timely deal.
"I don't buy this whole theory that they have no choice but to go on strike," Manfred said after another round of talks that focused on revenue sharing, minimum payroll, minimum salaries, debt reduction and benefits.
The players, concerned that the owners will declare an impasse in negotiations and post new work conditions after the World Series, are considering setting a strike date between Aug. 16 and Sept. 16.
Packers bring back Blackshear
DEPERE, Wis., July 31 (UPI) -- Guard Jeff Blackshear, an eight-year NFL veteran who was out of football last year, signed Wednesday with the Green Bay Packers.
Blackshear has started 96 games in an NFL career that began with the Seattle Seahawks in 1993. He was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 and started 57 straight games.
He last played for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2000, starting 15 games.
In other moves, the Packers waived punter Scott Elder.
Bulls sign backup forward
CHICAGO, July 31 (UPI) -- Forward Corie Blount returned to where his NBA career began Wednesday when he signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bulls.
The 6-10 Blount appeared in a career-high 72 games, including 21 starts, for the Philadelphia 76ers last season. The nine-year veteran averaged 3.6 points and 5.1 rebounds, shooting 45.8 percent from the floor.
Blount played two seasons for the Bulls and also has played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland, Phoenix and Golden State.
Parcells joins broadcasting team
BRISTOL, Conn., July 31 (UPI) -- Bill Parcells, who won two Super Bowls as coach of the New York Giants, will return to ESPN on a full-time basis as a studio analyst, it was announced Wednesday.
Parcells will be a regular on "Sunday NFL Countdown" with host Chris Berman and fellow analysts Tom Jackson, Sterling Sharpe and Steve Young and reporter Chris Mortensen. Parcells appeared on the show four times last season as a guest analyst.
The 60-year-old Parcells coached 15 years with the Giants,th New England Patriots and New York Jets. He had 10 winning seasons an an 11-6 postseason record. He also appeared in the Super Bowl with the Patriots.