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Australian weightlifter fined for assault on rival

GLASGOW, Scotland -- An Australian medal-winning weightlifter was convicted Thursday of head-butting another Commonwealth Games competitor in the athletes' village and Australia's athletics coach was sent home for criticizing his top star — just as the country's 20-year domination of the competition appeared to be coming to an end.

Australia has topped the medals standings at every Commonwealth Games since 1990 but slipped to second place behind England on Wednesday, trailing 41-35 in the gold medal count. With the games ending on Sunday, Australia looked unlikely to regain the lead because swimming, where the team won 19 of the total 44 golds, has been completed.

The Australian spotlight shifted from the venues to Glasgow Sheriff Court, where weightlifter Francois Etoundi pleaded guilty to assaulting Welsh counterpart Gareth Evans early Wednesday in the village dining room, breaking his nose.

The Cameroon-born Etoundi, who won the bronze medal in the 77-kilogram (170-pound) division on Sunday, was ordered to pay 400 pounds (US$675) compensation to Evans. The incident occurred after a verbal exchange relating to the girlfriend of Evans, who finished fifth in the 62-kilogram division.

“Your behavior not least undermines the concept of the friendly games which we are so proud to have here in Glasgow,” Sheriff Andrew Cubie told Etoundi. “Many people don't have the skills or opportunities or support network that you have, and yet you have chosen to bring the law of the playground into Commonwealth Games village ... falling out with someone over a girl.”

Etoundi could face sporting sanctions back in Australia, where he will be returning imminently.

“He is bitterly, bitterly disappointed with things,” said Etoundi's lawyer, David Hunter. “The gloss of winning the medal has been removed.”

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper said Etoundi had already been stripped of his games accreditation.

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