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By DAVE THEALL, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2001

Courts push Tour urine testing

French courts have moved ahead with plans to test urine samples taken from Lance Armstrong and his teammates during last year's Tour de France, the Associated Press reported.

The urine samples have been undergoing analysis to determine whether the riders took performance-enhancing drugs. Three experts have been designated to perform the tests, and judicial officials are waiting for the results.

In December, French Sports Minister Marie-George Buffet refused to comply with a request from cycling's governing body to destroy the frozen urine samples because judicial authorities wanted them for an investigation of Armstrong's team.

Armstrong has repeatedly denied taking illegal substances.

FIGURE SKATING: Russia swept the International Open in Tokyo. Alexei Yagudin won the men's title for the second straight year, and Maria Butyrskaya won the women's event. Albertville Olympics silver medalist Midori Ito, returning after more than four years, was third.

GOLF: No. 3 seed Vijay Singh lost 1-up to Toru Taniguchi in the $5-million World Golf Championship in Melbourne, Australia. Justin Leonard made a 30-foot birdie putt to halve No. 14, played a backhanded putter out of the shrubs and won the 17th with a bogey and defeated Gary Orr. ... Lionel Hebert, a member of the PGA tour for more than three decades and its national champion in 1957, died at his south Louisiana home. He was 72. ... Ty Tryon, 16, from Orlando, shot 6-under 66 and took the first-round lead of the 72-hole 75th annual New Year's Invitational at St. Petersburg Country Club. Patrick Norris of the University of Georgia shot 68. Chan Song Wongluekiet of Bradenton was in a three-way tie at 69. Spencer Gaylord, a member of the host club, was tied for first in the senior division with Mike Garber of Pinehurst, N.C. They shot 2-under 70. Bud Chapman of Minneapolis had a hole-in-one on the 139-yard 17th hole.

AUTOS: Ricky Craven signed to race for a new Winston Cup team. Craven will drive the No. 32 Ford for PPI Motorsports. He will begin testing the car at Daytona International Speedway next week in preparation for the Daytona 500. ... Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser regained the overall lead in the car category after winning the first African stage of the 2001 Dakar Rally in Er Rachidia, Morocco.

BASKETBALL: Bogdan Tanjevic was named coach of Yugoslav champion Buducnost Podgorica.

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