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Olympics briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2000


White is 4th Rays minor-leaguer on U.S. team

Devil Rays minor-league pitcher Matt White replaced Chicago White Sox minor-league pitcher Matt Ginter on the U.S. baseball team's roster Friday.

Ginter was called up by the White Sox.

White, from South Pasadena, is the fourth Rays minor-leaguer to be named to the team. The others are catcher Pat Borders and second baseman Brent Abernathy of Triple-A Durham and pitcher Bobby Seay of Double-A Orlando. The Mariners are the only other major-league team with four minor-leaguers on the roster.

The U.S. team is made up mostly of Double-A and Triple-A prospects.

White, 22, is 2-2 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts for Durham. The right-hander started the season with Double-A Orlando and went 7-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 20 starts.

The 29-player roster will be cut to 24 before the Games in Sydney next month.

In other U.S. baseball news, Rays major-league scout Bart Johnson was named the team's advance scout.

TERRORIST THREAT: Police in New Zealand foiled a plot that apparently targeted a nuclear reactor in Sydney during the Olympics, the New Zealand Herald reported in today's editions.

March raids on suspected people-smuggling operations police alleged were run by organized crime uncovered evidence of the plot, the paper said.

Police confirmed that officers raided an Auckland home serving as a virtual command center, with detailed maps of Sydney highlighting the reactor, and notes on police security tactics. They did not confirm the reactor was targeted.

The paper said no arrests are known to have been made but police continue to investigate. The paper said the group reportedly was linked with Afghanistan-based terrorist Osama bin Laden. There was no independent confirmation.

The 1950s-vintage nuclear reactor in a Sydney suburb is not a power plant. It is used for scientific and medical research.

INVITATION WITHDRAWN: The IOC withdrew an offer for Afghan representatives to attend the Sydney Games, accusing the ruling Taliban militia of exploiting the invitation for political gain.

The Taliban's sports minister denounced the decision as an "insult to (the IOC's) dignity and independence."

This week the IOC invited the Taliban to send two observers to Sydney to discuss providing aid to athletes and promoting sports in the battered country. It rejected appeals to lift its ban on Afghan athletes taking part in the Games.

But the IOC was angered by subsequent Taliban statements that the invitation implied IOC recognition of the new national Olympic committee under the hard-line Islamic government.

CHRISTIE WITHDRAWS: Gold-medal sprinter Linford Christie, who is contesting a positive test for steroids, withdrew his application for a coaching credential for Sydney. Christie, the 1992 Olympic 100-meter champion, said he thought his athletes would be subjected to a "media circus" if he went to the Games.

There is a good chance the British Olympic Association would not have issued him a credential anyway.

Christie's athletes include European 100-meter champion Darren Campbell.

CYCLING: Chris Witty's spot on the U.S. team was assured after it was learned that a challenger for her roster position tested positive for a high testosterone level.

Tammy Thomas, who narrowly beat Witty in the 500-meter time trial in the April trials, had challenged Witty's appointment to the 27-member team. U.S. Cycling selected the team based on two years of international racing results.

Thomas withdrew her appeal Friday.

U.S. Cycling official Sean Petty said team officials learned of the test result "late, late, late (Thursday) night."

The U.S. Cycling Federation also suspended Thomas for one year, retroactive to April 29, the date the sample was taken, after she beat Witty at the trials.

Thomas was not available for comment. Her attorney, Bill Bock, declined to comment when asked about the drug test.

Witty was not available for comment. Her lawyer, Jeff Benz, said: "Chris and everyone involved with Chris is thankful of that decision."

Witty also is a speedskater. She won silver and bronze medals at the 1998 Games. She is trying to become the first U.S. woman, and the fourth person, to medal at the Winter and Summer Olympics.

MORE CYCLING: Tanya Lindenmuth recovered from a crash to successfully defend her title in the match sprint at the U.S. national championships in Colorado Springs, Colo., late Thursday. ... Tom Steels of Belgium pulled out of the Sydney Games, undermining the team's status as Olympic favorite. Steels, a sprinter who won two stages in the Tour de France, came down with a high fever last week.

GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLING: The U.S. Olympic Committee plans to sort through conflicting decisions from an arbitrator and a federal court and decide next week whether Matt Lindland or Keith Sieracki will be compete at 1671/2 pounds in Sydney.

Sieracki defeated Lindland in the June trials, 2-1 in overtime on a referee's decision in the deciding third bout. Lindland filed a protest with USA Wrestling, saying he had been tripped during the match; tripping is against the rules. That protest was denied, as was a subsequent one.

Lindland then filed for arbitration and was granted a rematch. He defeated Sieracki 8-0 on Aug. 14. Sieracki then filed for arbitration.

An arbitrator Thursday directed USA Wrestling to withdraw Lindland's Olympic nomination and add Sieracki. Hours later, a federal appeals court in Chicago, ruling in a suit Lindland filed, said Lindland should get the berth.

Friday was the deadline to submit Olympic rosters. Olympic committees uncertain of their eligible athletes had to submit entry forms for all potential competitors.

SOCCER: U.S. coach April Heinrichs postponed naming the replacement for Michelle Akers, saying it would be inappropriate while the veteran's career is being celebrated. Akers retired from international competition Thursday because of health problems. ... Australia's medal hope received a severe blow when midfielder Harry Kewell was removed from the team because of an Achilles' tendon injury. Kewell, a striker with Leeds United in the English Premier League, said the injury wasn't responding to treatment.

SWIMMING: Australian Customs officials confiscated a dietary supplement from a South African coach at the Perth Airport. Graham Hill admitted he tried to carry Hydroxycut, which contains the banned substance ephedrine, into Australia. He said the supplement was for him and none of his swimmers was using it.

SYDNEY TICKETS: As of Wednesday, 1.963-million tickets still were for sale, including tickets for gold-medal sessions in most sports. Nearly a quarter of the total were for early-round soccer matches in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra. The rest were for events at Olympic venues around Sydney.

TRACK AND FIELD: Maurice Greene set a season best in the 100 meters, finishing in 9.88 seconds at the Van Damme Memorial meet at Brussels, Belgium.

Michael Johnson won the 400 in 44.07, beating Britain's Mark Richardson by 0.65 seconds. It was Johnson's first race since pulling up lame with a hamstring injury in the 200 final at the U.S. trials last month.

In the 200, U.S. trials champion John Capel of Brooksville finished next-to-last in the nine-runner field in 20.72. Ato Boldon of Trinidad won in 20.19.

Marion Jones had the season's second-best time, 10.83, in winning the 100. But she had problems in the long jump. She overstepped the line four times, and on her two valid jumps, her best was 21 feet, 71/2 inches. She finished fifth in the seven-competitor field. Tatyana Kotova of Russia won with a jump of 22-10.

- Staff writer Bruce Lowitt contributed to this report.

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