UFC president Dana White, peppered with questions about comments by Colby Covington that some of his fellow fighters said were racist, said he would not “muzzle anybody” over “their own causes, things, their own beliefs.” During a news conference Wednesday in Abu Dhabi to promote the UFC 253 card, White was asked about Covington’s comments after he defeated Tyron Woodley on Saturday. During a postfight interview with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who was born in Nigeria, Covington asked whether Usman had gotten a call from his “little tribe” and whether “smoke signals” were involved. He called Woodley, a Black fighter and Black Lives Matter supporter, “a communist,” “a Marxist” and someone who “stands for criminals. He hates America and that’s why he got broke.” Covington, a supporter of President Donald Trump, also questioned the legitimacy of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying in his postfight news conference that the movement was “a complete sham, it’s a joke” he said. “These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs,” White told reporters. “We don’t muzzle anybody here. We let everybody speak their mind. I don’t know what he said that was racist. I don’t know if I heard anything racist that he said.” Asked whether he believed it is wrong if one of his fighters said something racist, White replied, “Of course. Come on. I’m not going to play these games with you guys. Come on, if it’s racist? Yes. Of course.”
Hendrick Motorsports draws huge fine
NASCAR fined Hendrick Motorsports $100,000 for exceeding the amount of wind tunnel testing allowed in a year. The race team was also docked 10 hours of wind tunnel time for next year. An organization is allowed a maximum of 70 hours in 2020 and 90 hours in 2021. The testing is defined as billable hours reported by the wind tunnel. Hendrick Motorsports self-reported the violation after discovering it had exceeded 70 hours by “less than an hour,” the team said. Hendrick will not appeal the penalty . . . IndyCar rookie Oliver Askew will not compete in next week’s doubleheader at Indianapolis because of concussion-like symptoms that date to his crash in the Indianapolis 500 last month. Arrow McLaren SP will use Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet at Indianapolis. Askew told The Associated Press he had been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed late in the Aug. 23 race.
French Open awaits word on fans
Guy Forget, the tournament director of the French Open, said the Grand Slam event was awaiting clarity from French authorities on how to proceed with regard to fan attendance. The tournament, which was postponed from its traditional May and June dates to September and October because of the coronavirus pandemic, was set to host as many as 20,000 spectators per day at Roland Garros Stadium. But a resurgence in coronavirus cases in France in recent weeks forced tournament leadership to significantly reduce on-site attendance. On Wednesday, Olivier Véran, France’s health minister, announced large planned events in many parts of France, including the Paris region, would be limited to no more than 1,000 people, beginning Saturday. French Open officials were planning on hosting 5,000 spectators per day, beginning Sunday.
Tennessee extends its football coach
No. 16 Tennessee gave coach Jeremy Pruitt a raise and a contract extension through 2025 after two seasons on the job. Tennessee announced the two-year extension that also will increase Pruitt’s pay $400,000 from this season to $4.2 million in 2021. Pruitt, who has a top 10 recruiting class for 2020, is 13-12 as a head coach heading into Saturday night’s season opener at South Carolina. The Vols started this pandemic-affected season ranked No. 16 after winning six straight games, including the Gator Bowl in January . . . Florida State coach Mike Norvell, who tested positive for the coronavirus, will remain in quarantine and sit out the Seminoles road game against traditional rival Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. Norvell, whose team suffered a stinging season-opening loss at Georgia Tech, remained asymptomatic but planned to help with preparation and monitor practices remotely. Deputy head coach Chris Thomsen will fill in for Norvell against the No. 12 Hurricanes (2-0), who will enter the game against the Seminoles with its highest ranking since being No. 10 in the polls in 2016.
IOC’s Bach talks up vaccine
IOC president Thomas Bach delivered a pep talk to Japanese government officials and local organizers that suggested “hundreds of millions” of doses COVID-19 vaccines would be available before the postponed Olympics open in July. Bach was speaking from Switzerland in an on-line gathering of officials in Japan during the first of two days of meetings focused on how to pull off the delayed Tokyo Games. Bach pointed out major sports events like the Tour de France have been held with limited fans and without the vaccine. But he said a vaccine — or vaccines — could be ready for Tokyo, although he gave few details . . . Alex Morgan could make her Tottenham debut in an Women’s FA Cup quarterfinal against Arsenal on Saturday. The 31-year-old United States forward, who gave birth to daughter Charlie Elena Carrasco in May, has not played since 2019. Morgan only arrived in London last week after signing for Tottenham from the Orlando Pride but she has been training through the week . . . Javi Martínez headed in the winning goal in extra time as Bayern Munich started the season with a 2-1 victory over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup in a stadium partially filled with fans in Budapest . . . Items from the personal collection of Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully sold at auction for more than $2 million, including World Series rings from the Dodgers' championships in 1955 and 1988. Each ring sold for $188,000 during online bidding that ended Wednesday. Another item that sold for six figures was a Dodgers Centennial limited edition serigraph by LeRoy Neiman that went for $105,750.