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Nov. 5, 2009 at 5:15 PM   |   Comments

Calgary Flames jump queue for flu vaccine

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Allowing the NHL's Calgary Flames players and families to get H1N1 flu shots early has cost an Alberta Health Services manager his job, officials said.

The provincial agency announced Wednesday it had fired the unidentified mid-level manager for allowing the vaccinations for the hockey players and their families last week, the Calgary Sun reported Thursday. Further disciplinary action for other AHS employees was also possible, officials said.

Canada's largest-ever mass inoculation program ran into a vaccine shortage last week as tens of thousands of people considered low-risk for acquiring H1N1 jammed clinics.

Guidelines state the vaccine must be offered first to people under 65 with a chronic condition, children between six months and five years and pregnant women

AHS spokesman Roman Cooney told the Sun the Flames organization wasn't considered to be at fault.

"The Flames spoke with people senior enough that they could have reasonably expected this would be approved," he said.

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N. America running sponsorships growing

CHICAGO, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- A new report says North American companies will spend more than $86 million this year on sponsorships for marathons, 10Ks and other running events.

The Chicago research and consulting firm IEG said Thursday that the figures represent an 2.5-percent increase from the $84 million spent last year by corporations.

The report's editor, William Chipps, said running events, including triathlons, attract an audience that appeals to many companies.

"Corporate marketers continue to be enthralled by endurance sports' affluent participant base," Chipps said in a written statement.

IEG said the increase was partly the result of the emergence this year of Competitor Group Inc., which was formed in New York by the private equity group Falconhead Capital and bought up Triathlete Magazine, the Rock-and-Roll Marathon series and other endurance-sports companies.

CGI offered new marketing packages that appealed to major advertisers and brought in new sponsors for the New York Marathon, in particular.

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Poll: Hines Ward the NFL's dirtiest player

A Sports Illustrated poll of 296 players indicates his peers see Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward as the NFL's dirtiest player.

The poll, conducted in September, represented less than 18 percent of the league's active players, but at 11.6 percent, Ward, a 12-year veteran, easily outdistanced Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and Miami Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter, who at 6 percent, shared second place for the dubious honor.

"He's one of those guys when you say tough, physical football player, his face is probably right there in the dictionary," Denver Broncos Coach Josh McDaniels told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review Wednesday when he heard about the poll.

Ward, 33, he was fined $15,000 last October back-to-back weeks for plays that weren't penalized, and later, broke the jaw of Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers during a down-field block that also did not lead to a penalty.

Rivers' season ended on the play.

Cincinnati safety Roy Williams (5.1 percent); Tennessee center Kevin Mawae (4.6); Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan (4.2); St. Louis guard Richie Incognito (3.7); Atlanta guard Harvey Dahl (3.7); Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu (3.7); and Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen (3.2) completed the poll's Top 10.

The Broncos play the Steelers at Denver Monday night.

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Bryant's suspension upheld by NCAA

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant had an appeal denied Thursday by the NCAA, leaving a suspension in place ending his college football career.

Bryant was declared ineligible by Oklahoma State officials on Oct. 7 for allegedly failing to fully disclose to NCAA investigators contact with former NFL player Deion Sanders.

The NCAA later barred Bryant, a junior, from returning this season and took away a season of eligibility. Bryant appealed but an NCAA committee Thursday upheld the penalties.

Bryant caught 17 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns in the three games before his suspension. He was a consensus All-American at wide receiver last season as a sophomore when he caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns.

He will be eligible to enter the NFL Draft next year.

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