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Olympics briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 4, 2000

Johnson happy with win in 400

RIETI, Italy -- In his final race before the Olympics, Michael Johnson cruised to victory the 400 meters Sunday at the Rieti Grand Prix meet.

Johnson finished in a time of 44.46 seconds, ahead of Britain's Mark Richardson and Jerome Davis of the United States.

"I felt very good and relaxed today. I'm right where I need to be," said Johnson, who will head home to Texas before traveling to Sydney on Sept. 14.

The Games begin Sept. 15.

Though well off his world best of 43.18, set at last year's World Championships in Seville, Spain, the time was quicker than Johnson's 45-second effort last week in Berlin.

In the men's 100, Ghana's Abdul Aziz Zakari won in 10.13, ahead of Americans Brian Lewis and Dennis Mitchell.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: American Savante Stringfellow twice jumped 27 feet to easily defeat Australian record-holder Jai Taurima and the rest of the field in a pre-Olympic meet at Brisbane, Australia.

Taurima caused a furor last week when he was quoted in newspapers as saying "you can pretty much knock out all the dark athletes" from the Olympic competition because of expected cool weather and "Americans ... only jump big in America." That angered Stringfellow, who is black, and he promised to prove Taurima wrong.

Three of Stringfellow's four jumps were better than Taurima's best, 26-81/4.

Taurima, whose father is Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, refused to talk to reporters after the competition and hurried away from the field. Stringfellow said he harbored "no hard feelings."

"Earlier in the week, (Taurima) had me excited, but when I got here, I forgot about it," Stringfellow said.

At the Spanish Athletics Championships in Barcelona, Fermin Cacho, the 1,500-meter gold medalist at the 1992 Olympics, removed himself from the Sydney Games because of injury. Cacho, the silver medalist in 1976, has been slowed by a nagging Achilles' tendon injury.

BASKETBALL: Nell Fortner became the U.S. women's team's career victory leader when the team beat a team of U.S. all-stars 97-31 in Honolulu. The victory was Fortner's 89th, giving her one more than Tara VanDerveer. Chamique Holdsclaw scored 14 points, and Lisa Leslie and Yolanda Griffith 12 each for the Olympic team. For the all-star team, Kelly Schumacher had eight points and Jackie Stiles seven.

DRUGS: Frank Shorter, who won the marathon gold medal at the '72 Games, says the International Olympic Committee must raise its level of drug testing for the good of the Games.

Shorter, chairman of the new U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said he questions the outcome of every endurance race and that the IOC's testing falls short of exposing all drug cheats. Shorter made his comments in an article in the latest issue of Time magazine, out today.

"Things have to change, or we're going under," Shorter told Time. "The Olympics will be a freak show."

IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch admitted that some banned substances are not being tested for and said the IOC is defenseless against some new, sophisticated enhancers and masking agents.

GYMNASTICS: Greece's Ioannis Melissanidis, the 1996 men's floor exercise gold medalist, is still hobbled by an injury and may not compete in the event at Sydney. The Kathimerini newspaper in Athens reported that Melissanidis left for Australia certain only that he would enter the vault.

TENNIS: The IOC awarded Sweden's Andreas Vinciguerra a spot in the Games. Vinciguerra, a member of Sweden's Davis Cup team, was turned down by the Swedish Olympic Committee despite being ranked among the top 48 on the ATP Tour. The ATP and the IOC agreed the top 48 would qualify for Sydney.

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