Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has sent an email to parents of players on his team, refuting a report saying representatives are working on his departure from his alma mater. 'I am reaching out to let you know that the recent claims that I am 'pursuing an exit strategy' are total crap,' Harbaugh wrote in an email, a copy of which was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. 'It's an annual strategy driven by our enemies to cause disruption to our program and to negatively recruit. 'By the way, I don't even have an 'agent or representative.' I am committed to your sons, their education and their development as football players and people.' The person who shared the email's content with AP did so on condition of anonymity because it was intended only for players' parents. Harbaugh was responding to a report citing sources saying his representatives have their eye on getting Harbaugh back in the NFL, where he was a head coach in San Francisco. Last year, former Ohio State star receiver and Fox Sports analyst Cris Carter said Harbaugh was a potential candidate to lead the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns. Michigan won 10 games last season for the third time under Harbaugh, but dropped to 0-4 against the rival Buckeyes. Harbaugh, who is 43-16 with the Wolverines, is in the fifth year of a seven-year contract with a compensation package that gives him more than $7 million per year. He returned in 2015 to the school where he was a star quarterback after going 44-19-1 with the 49ers, winning the 2012 NFC championship. Michigan was among the preseason favorites to win the Big Ten title, but the Wolverines have already lost two conference games to make a championship unlikely. The 19th-ranked Wolverines (5-2, 3-2 Big Ten) can't help their chances in the Big Ten race on Saturday night at home against No. 8 Notre Dame (5-1), but they can earn a measure of respect and perhaps improve their postseason positioning. ___ Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/larrylage ___ More AP college football: https://twitter.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
A former Russian Olympic Committee official who fled his country and claimed to have been poisoned after being criticized by Russian President Vladimir Putin has been arrested in Florida for an alleged immigration violation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Tammy Spicer announced Wednesday that 48-year-old Akhmed Bilalov was arrested at his condo in Sunny Isles Beach on Tuesday. He was taken to the Krome detention facility in Miami to face deportation and remained in custody Wednesday. The agency's statement says Bilalov entered the United States for a temporary stay on May 2, 2016, but 'failed to depart in accordance with the terms of his admission.' The Miami Herald first reported the story and said Bilalov had been living in Florida with his wife and newborn in an upscale suburb of Miami Beach, nicknamed 'Little Moscow' for its number of Russian emigres. ICE's records don't list defense attorneys, and it wasn't immediately clear who may be representing him. Bilalov was a rising star in Russian business and sports circles until his sudden downfall in February 2013, when Putin sharply criticized cost overruns and delays during Bilalov's tenure overseeing a ski jump complex being built for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Soon after, Bilalov resigned as a vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee. Two months later, Russian prosecutors opened a criminal case against him in connection with alleged misuse of funds intended for developing tourism resorts and overclaiming expenses for a visit to the 2012 Olympics in London. Russian state news agencies reported Wednesday that the case against Bilalov remained open and that he was on a wanted list. Facing up to four years in prison if convicted, Bilalov left Russia for Germany, where he alleged that doctors found elevated levels of mercury in his blood. In comments to the Russian news agency Interfax, Bilalov claimed his Moscow office had been contaminated. Before his downfall, Bilalov also led the Russian Golf Federation and had a seat on the International Olympic Committee's marketing commission in 2011 and 2012. ____ Associated Press sports writer James Ellingworth contributed to this story from Duesseldorf, Germany.
Paralympian Marieke Vervoort said when the day arrived, she had signed the euthanasia papers and was prepared to end her life. That day came Tuesday in her native Belgium, her death confirmed in a statement from the city of Diest. Vervoort, who was 40, won gold and silver medals in wheelchair racing at the 2012 London Paralympics, and two more medals three years ago in Rio de Janeiro. In an interview attended by The Associated Press at the Paralympics in Rio, Vervoort described living with unbroken pain from an incurable, degenerative spinal disease. She talked of sleeping only 10 minutes some nights, described severe pain that caused others to pass out just watching her, and detailed how sports kept her alive. 'It's too hard for my body,' Vervoort said in the 2016 interview. 'Each training I'm suffering because of pain. Every race I train hard. Training and riding and doing competition are medicine for me. I push so hard — to push literally all my fear and everything away.' Vervoort spent her last evening with close friends and family, even sharing a glass of sparkling wine, which she referred to as a painkiller. Condolences streamed in from across the nation, including from the royal family 'Marieke 'Wielemie' Vervoort was an athlete tough as nails and a great lady. Her death touches us deeply,' the family said in a statement. Vervoort was a strong advocate of the right to choose euthanasia, which is legal in Belgium. Like training hard, she said it gave her control and put 'my own life in my hands.' 'I'm really scared, but those (euthanasia) papers give me a lot of peace of mind because I know when it's enough for me, I have those papers,' she said. 'If I didn't have those papers, I think I'd have done suicide already. I think there will be fewer suicides when every country has the law of euthanasia. ... I hope everybody sees that this is not murder, but it makes people live longer.' Vervoort also had epileptic seizures and had one in 2014 when she was cooking pasta and spilled boiling water over her legs. That resulted in a four-month hospital stay. A loyal Labrador named Zenn began staying with her, pawing her when a seizure was about to occur. Zenn also pulled her socks out of the sock drawer, she said, and helped carry groceries home when Vervoort bought too much. 'When I'm going to have an epileptic attack, she warns me one hour before,' Vervoort said. 'I don't know how she feels it.' Vervoort said she kept pushing back the day of her death, knowing it could come anytime — as it can for anyone. She said she can be pain-free one minute, and nearly pass out a few minutes later. 'You have to live day-by-day and enjoy the little moments,' she said. 'Everybody tomorrow can have a car accident and die, or a heart attack and die. It can be tomorrow for everybody.' Vervoort called herself a 'crazy lady.' She talked of flying in an F-16 fighter jet, riding in a rally car, and she was curating a museum of her life going back to at least 14 when she was diagnosed with her rare illness. She had spikey hair and wanted to be remembered as the lady who was 'always laughing, always smiling.' 'I feel different about death now than years ago,' Vervoort said. 'For me I think death is something like they operate on you, you go to sleep and you never wake up. For me it's something peaceful.' ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP