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Candice Wiggins brands WNBA as ‘toxic’

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Candice Wiggins said her experience playing in the WNBA was ‘‘toxic’’ and was a major reason why she retired last season. In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Wiggins said the culture in the league was ‘‘very, very harmful’’ and that she was targeted throughout her career for being heterosexual and popular. The 30-year-old Stanford graduate said she was bullied from the time she was drafted by Minnesota. ‘‘Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,’’ Wiggins said, who played eight years in the league with four teams. ‘‘I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state. It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me.’’

Current and former WNBA players were empathetic to Wiggins, but also disputed her claims in social media posts. Imani Boyette, who just finished her rookie year with the Chicago Sky, posted a lengthy blog on Wiggins’s comments. ‘‘I don’t want to silence you Candice. I hope we can have an open dialogue about your experiences. But next time, I hope you ask your journalist to interview someone else who was there with you,’’ Boyette wrote. ‘‘I ask that you use real statistics. I ask that you not try to out other women. I ask that you try not to defame a league that gave you your platform, whether you like it or not. I ask that you remember your sisters, your fellow WNBA stars, the young girls coming up after you. The WNBA is about inclusion, always has been and always will be.’’

Dupree traded to Fever


After spending the last seven years playing for the Phoenix Mercury, five-time All-Star Candice Dupree was traded to the Indiana Fever as part of a three-team deal that includes Connecticut. The Fever also get the No. 17 pick in this year’s draft while Phoenix receives Camille Little and Jillian Alleyne from the Sun. Connecticut received Lynetta Kizer and the eighth pick in the draft.

Dupree helped the Mercury win a title in 2014 and has averaged 14.7 points in her career, although she had a career low 11.3 last season. She was acquired by Phoenix as part of another three-way deal from the Chicago Sky, who drafted her in 2006.

With the deal, Connecticut gets a pick in the first round again. The Sun had traded the No. 4 pick in the draft last season to acquire Jonquel Jones from the Los Angeles Sparks.


BAA a no-go for Flanagan

Four-time Olympian and Marblehead native Shalane Flanagan, 35, withdrew from this year’s Boston Marathon because of a fracture in her back that will require four-to-six weeks of rest. Flanagan has competed in the Boston Marathon three times and holds the course record for American women (2 hours 22 minutes 2 seconds). She did not participate in 2016 because she qualified for the Rio Olympics in February that year; she finished sixth in Rio.

“I’m extremely sad at the loss of opportunity to run with the best and that I will not be a part of my favorite race,” Flanagan said in a press release.


John Hancock also announced that Suguru Osako, who holds five national records in Japan, was added to the elite men’s field. This year’s Boston Marathon is April 17.


Panthers cut Tolbert

The Panthers began restructuring their roster, releasing three-time Pro Bowl fullback Mike Tolbert and backup defensive tackle Paul Soliai. The versatile Tolbert was utilized as a blocker, runner, and receiver during his five seasons with the Panthers, but the 31-year-old’s production tailed off last season. Tolbert carried 35 times for 114 yards with no touchdowns with 10 receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown in 2016. The year before Tolbert ran 62 times for 256 yards with one TD and caught 18 passes for 154 yards and three TDs.

Tolbert combined for 12 TDs rushing in 2012 and 2013. Tolbert was named All-Pro in 2013 and 2015. The Panthers saved about $1.7 million under the salary cap by releasing Tolbert, leaving the team with more than $51 million in cap space entering free agency. Tolbert joined the Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2008 out of Coastal Carolina. He posted a career-high 11 touchdowns rushing in 2010 with the Chargers in 2010 and had 10 more total touchdowns in 2011. Soliai, a 10-year veteran, played in 10 games for the Panthers with one start last season. He had five tackles, two quarterback pressures and one fumble recovery.

The Jaguars re-signed offensive lineman Tyler Shatley, keeping another player expected to add depth next season. The Jaguars also re-signed offensive tackle Josh Wells last week. Shatley, Wells, and receiver Allen Hurns made the Opening Day roster as undrafted rookies in 2014. All three have signed new contracts in the last nine months — most recently Shatley on Tuesday — solid finds for general manager Dave Caldwell and his staff.

The 49ers have added former NFL players DeMeco Ryans (defensive quality control) and Daniel Bullocks (assistant defensive backs) to coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff.


Breakers begin April 16

The National Women’s Soccer League announced the schedule for its opening weekend, including the first game broadcast on Lifetime as part of the league’s new partnership with A+E Networks. The Portland Thorns, who have the league’s best average attendance, will host the Orlando Pride on April 15 for Lifetime’s first Game of the Week. The Boston Breakers visit FC Kansas City on April 16. The league’s teams will play a 24-game schedule evenly divided between home and away matches. Training camps will open March 13 . . . Brooks Lennon, loaned this month from Liverpool to Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, scored three goals to lead the United States over Haiti, 4-1, at San Jose, Costa Rica, and put the Americans in position to advance in qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup. The US team (1-1) closes first-round play Friday against St. Kitts.

Kenly Dede beat goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann — the son of former US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann — to give Haiti the lead in the 15th minute. Lennon converted a penalty kick in the 28th after Jonathan Lewis was fouled, Luca De La Torre put the Americans ahead in the 52nd, and Lennon added goals in the 53rd and 58th.

Wayne Shaw, a 45-year-old backup goalkeeper for Sutton United, quit after being seen eating a meat pie during his team’s landmark game against Arsenal — while authorities launched investigations into an apparent betting stunt. It soured the biggest match in non-league Sutton’s 118-year history. A British newspaper’s betting company, which sponsored Sutton United for Monday’s FA Cup game, had 8-1 odds that the nearly 300-pound reserve would eat a meat pie. After Sutton used all of its substitutions and there was no chance Shaw would appear in the 2-0 loss to Arsenal, he munched on the pie while sitting on the bench.

‘‘Wayne has offered his resignation to the chairman this afternoon and that has been accepted,’’ Sutton manager Paul Doswell told Sky News. ‘‘It’s a very sad end to what was a very good story.’’ The footage of Shaw eating was broadcast on the BBC. ‘‘I thought I would give [the betting company] a bit of banter and let’s do it,’’ Shaw told British media. But the stunt caught the attention of the body that regulates commercial gambling in Britain and the English Football Association, who are investigating the incident. English FA rules prohibit players from betting on any ‘‘occurrence’’ in a match, although this incident did not take place on the field. There is no indication Shaw financially benefited himself.


Leafs done with Laich

The Toronto Maple Leafs placed Brooks Laich on waivers, two days after the veteran center questioned where he fit in the team’s plans. The Maple Leafs acquired Laich, 33, from Washington a year ago. Laich, however, has spent this season in the minors since being demoted in October. Laich is in the final year of a contract that pays him a base salary of $4 million this season . . . The Carolina Hurricanes acquired defenseman Philip Samuelsson, the son of former NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, from the Canadiens in a trade of minor leaguers. The Hurricanes picked up the 25-year-old defenseman in exchange for defenseman Keegan Lowe.

Thomaz Bellucci upset top-seeded Kei Nishikori, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the Rio Open, thrilling the home crowd on Carnival week in Rio de Janeiro. Nishikori, who lost the Argentina Open final on Sunday on clay, smashed his racket on the red clay after losing Tuesday’s first set. It didn’t get any better. He was broken in the first game of the second and never really recovered . . . The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled against five Russian Nordic skiers who wanted their provisional suspensions lifted to allow them to compete at the world championships. The five were suspended by the International Ski Federation pending a full inquiry after World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren alleged doping samples they gave may have been tampered with at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Two of the five won medals. CAS hasn’t dismissed the appeal against the provisional suspensions, but denied ‘‘urgent requests’’ to compete at the world championships, which start Wednesday.

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