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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2001

USOC drug decision surprises pro leagues

The recent decision by the U.S. Olympic Committee to end the exemption from random drug testing for professional athletes could threaten the participation of American professionals in Olympic hockey and basketball.

Under a resolution approved by the USOC's executive committee Friday, any professional athlete who wants to be an Olympian will have to submit his or her name up to a year in advance of the Games. The names will be put into a pool of players used in the No Advance Notice program. Whether a player is at home, at practice or at a game, an official could appear and ask for a test aimed at detecting steroids and steroid-masking agents.

Executives from the NBA, the NHL and the unions that represent players were bewildered by the USOC's decision; officials from both leagues said they wanted details before commenting on the specifics, but expressed concerns on several issues:

The privacy of their athletes under new USOC guidelines, which will no longer grant confidentiality to anyone who tests positive.

The logistics of providing a list of potential Olympians 12 months in advance.

The issue of whether a positive test under Olympic standards may be applied to a separate punishment within an athlete's own league.

The USOC action came with little, if any, consultation with the leagues from its chief executive officer, Scott Blackmun. What seems clear, however, is that if American players in the NBA and NHL refuse to participate, they will be barred from the Olympics.

"As far as I know, Scott Blackmun has never talked to Gary Bettman," said the NHL's chief legal counsel, Bill Daly, referring to the league's commissioner. "And Scott Blackmun has never talked to me. I don't know where this is coming from."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Temple will soon be looking for a new conference after being informed it no longer is wanted in the Big East. "They have not, since 1996, fulfilled our criteria for membership," senior associate commissioner Thomas P. McElroy said. "Our presidents have informed Temple that since they have not been in compliance, they are going to discontinue their affiliation with the conference. The decision's been made. Now they just have to discuss the parameters on how they will separate." ... Tony Alford, who spent four years as a running backs coach for Iowa State, has been hired for the same job at Washington. ... Clemson's Eugene Koon Jr. and Paul White Jr. were among seven people who pleaded guilty in connection with a scheme to make $100 bills with a computer scanner. Koon and White were suspended from the Tigers' Gator Bowl practice, but reinstated by coach Tommy Bowden about three weeks after their Nov. 28 indictment.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: Brett Groves and Karl Jernigan each drove in two runs as Florida State beat Appalachian State 7-4 in a seven-inning game shortened by rain. It completed a two-game sweep. Keith Brice pitched three scoreless innings in relief as host Florida came from seven runs down to beat Jacksonville 9-7. Nick Byrd hit for the cycle as Eckerd beat visiting Trinity 16-4.

COLLEGES: Florida's Nathan Overholser won at No. 1 singles and paired with freshman Jeremy Wurtzman for his school-record 89th career win in doubles as the Gators topped Arkansas 5-2 in men's tennis. Christina Denny won at No. 3 singles and teamed with Marina Raic for a No. 3 doubles win to help visiting FSU past USF in women's tennis.

TENNIS: Persistent rain postponed the matches of Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles and Lisa Raymond at the State Farm Women's Classic in Scottsdale, Ariz. No. 3 seed Yegevny Kafelnikov lost to Thomas Johansson 7-6, 7-5 and No. 5-seed Patrick Rafter was upset by Andrei Medvedev 7-6 (7-1), 4-6, 6-1 at the $1-million Dubai Open in United Arab Emirates. Greg Rusedski cruised past qualifier Renzo Furlan 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the $400,000 Sybase Open in San Jose, Calif. Top-seeded Gustavo Kuerten cruised to a first-round victory against Felix Mantilla 6-4, 6-1 in the $800,000 Mexican Open in Mexico City.

HORSE RACING: Tiznow probably will run in Saturday's $1-million Santa Anita Handicap. Tiznow, last year's horse of the year, galloped 11/2 miles Tuesday. During a 2-mile jog Monday, Tiznow sprung a shoe on his right front hoof. Last week, the 4-year-old bled through an acrylic patch intended to protect a quarter crack on the same hoof.

SOCCER: The Mutiny will hold a 7 p.m. scrimmage against the University of Tampa today at Pepin/Rood Stadium. Admission is free.

BASKETBALL: Forwards John Strickland and Nate Higgs were given their release by the ABA ThunderDawgs so they can pursue other playing opportunities. Strickland will play in Italy and Higgs will play in Venezuela. Tampa Bay added guard Marvin Fight and center Gordon Malone.

TRACK AND FIELD: Yugoslavian high jumper Dragutin Topic, who finished fourth at the 1999 World Championships, failed a drug test and could face a two-year ban.

SKIING: Four more Finnish cross-country skiers have failed drug tests, bringing to six the number to test positive. The Finnish Ski Association said veteran male skier Harri Kirvesniemi and Milla Jauho of the women's team were among the latest to fail tests. ... U.S. freestyle aerialist Brenda Petzold will miss the rest of season after breaking her right collarbone in a training accident.

BIATHLON: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen used strong skiing to offset two poor shots and beat Sven Fischer in a World Cup event on the course in Midway, Utah, for next year's Winter Olympics. Magdalena Forsberg won the women's 15-kilometer race, hitting all 20 targets.

BOXING: Former WBO heavyweight champ Herbie Hide was ordered to wear an electronic monitor for four months after being convicted in Norwich, England, of assaulting a man at a nightclub.

FIGURE SKATING: Ann Patrice McDonough led women's qualifying at the World Junior Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. The women have their short program Friday and conclude with free skating Saturday. Americans also lead the men's event. Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek were in the top spots entering today's free program. Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao performed a high quadruple twist and won the pairs title.

SAILING: Team Dennis Conner, which will represent the New York Yacht Club's Challenge for the 2003 America's Cup, has agreed to compete on the Swedish Match Grand Prix Tour, the world's leading professional series.

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