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Moscow team ban could become permanent

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The only Russian team to make the
Little League World Series was banned Friday from this year's
tournament for using players who lived outside the Moscow league's
boundaries.

Little League Baseball Inc. said a routine review of Little
League operations found irregularities in the Khovrino Little
League of Moscow, which has played in the last three series.

Khovrino league officials cooperated with the investigation,
saying outside players were used because of a lack of volunteers
and field space, Little League President Stephen D. Keener said.

An evaluation will be done next year to determine whether
Khovrino will be allowed back into the international tournament,
played annually in South Williamsport, Pa.

In 2001, Khovrino became the first Russian team to reach the
Little League World Series. That was the year pitcher Danny Almonte
led the Rolando Paulino Little League of the Bronx to third place.
The Bronx team forfeited its victories after it was discovered that
Almonte was too old to play Little League and that he lived outside
his team's boundaries.

Khovrino repeated as European champions in 2002 and 2003, and
last summer the team won a Little League World Series game for the
first time, beating Agana, Guam, 2-0. Because Khovrino did not
advance to the international semifinals, it won't have to forfeit
that victory.

It's the third time in the 57 years of the Little League World
Series that a team was later disqualified. In 1992, Zamboanga City
Little League from the Philippines won the championship but was
stripped of that title when it was learned that the team used
players from outside league boundaries.