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Sports Briefs

Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2002

Sun comes out at Roland Garros, stars shine

PARIS -- Order was restored at the French Open on Wednesday:

Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati and the Williams sisters overwhelmed their opponents. Gustavo Kuerten outlasted his, then celebrated with adoring fans.

Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt barked at themselves.

Marat Safin threw rackets. Anna Kournikova lost.

Oh, and the rain finally let up, as the sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds and allowed for busy courts across Roland Garros after two days of delays.

Even the pair of second-round losses by highly ranked men -- No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 9 Thomas Johansson -- wasn't all that shocking.

Kafelnikov, eliminated 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) by Mariano Zabaleta, hasn't won a tournament on clay since the 1996 French Open and his only victory in seven tour matches before this week came when an opponent quit.

And Johansson's 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-3 defeat against Arnaud Clement of France was perhaps simply a case of a one-hit wonder returning to form. Before winning the Australian Open in January, Johansson had reached only two quarterfinals in 24 Grand Slam events; he's never been past the second round in Paris.

The match with the most twists was 13th-seeded Roddick's 4-6, 7-6 (14), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 first-round loss to Wayne Arthurs, a serve-and-volleying Australian who delivered 25 aces.

In second-round action, No. 1 Hewitt, inspired in part by ''Rocky IV,'' beat Andrei Stoliarov 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0, 7-5; while No. 7 Kuerten, a three-time French Open champion, came back to stop Davide Sanguinetti 6-7 (0), 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, then slapped fans' hands on a victory lap filled with the same sort of mutual admiration as when he drew a heart in the clay last year.

''Everybody loves him,'' Sanguinetti said. ''He's the King of the French Open.''

No. 2 Venus Williams lost just one game against Wynne Prakusya of Indonesia and reached the women's third round, along with No. 4 Kim Clijsters, No. 6 Monica Seles, No. 11 Daniela Hantuchova and No. 13 Elena Dementieva.

Government asks for dismissal of lawsuit

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration defended a 30-year-old federal law that has greatly expanded women's athletic programs, arguing Wednesday that a lawsuit by male college coaches and athletes should be thrown out.

The lawsuit, filed in January in federal district court by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, says the law -- meant to ensure equal educational and athletic opportunities for men and women -- instead hurts lower-profile male sports.

The 1972 statute known as Title IX prohibits any school or college that receives federal funding from discrimination based on sex in sports or academics.

Because nearly all schools receive some federal aid, women have gained the opportunity to play many more sports under Title IX. But hundreds of men's sports programs have been cut nationwide, with Title IX often cited as the reason. Sports such as wrestling, swimming and track and field have been hit particularly hard.

LSU's Davis wins NCAA long jump

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Walter Davis of LSU won the long jump in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday night, the beginning of what he hopes will be a week of multiple triumphs in his college farewell.

On his home track, the 2000 Olympian won with a jump of 26 feet, 6 1/4 inches. Before he began his jumps, he ran the first leg of the LSU 400-meter relay team that had the fastest time in the qualifying heats of 38.32 seconds.

Davis -- an NCAA runner-up in the long jump in last year's outdoor championships and the last two indoor meets -- also is aiming at the triple jump on Friday.

Frank Thomas all for steroid testing

Frank Thomas wants baseball to start testing for steroids, saying he feels ''cheated'' if other players are using drugs.

''I don't know who's on and who's not on,'' the two-time MVP said Wednesday before the Chicago White Sox played the New York Yankees. ''There is definitely more activity in the weight room nowadays. I was hoping that it was just old guys working hard in the weight room.

''I really think it's time for testing. It really is.''

Two high-profile former players said recently that steroid use is rampant in the major leagues. Ken Caminiti estimated that at least half of major leaguers use steroids, and he told Sports Illustrated he was on them when he won the NL MVP award in 1996.

Jose Canseco put the number even higher, saying 85 percent of players use steroids.

New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine thought those estimates were overblown.

''Only if it's in the water or there's some way players are ingesting them without knowing it,'' Valentine said before his team's home game against Philadelphia. ''I think it's a total exaggeration unless you're saying some of the stuff like MetRx mix and the blender stuff is a steroid, then I stand corrected.

''As far as something injected or prescribed, I think it's preposterous to say 85 percent.''

Caminiti said steroid use was common knowledge in clubhouses, but players and managers disputed that.

''I haven't seen anybody use, or anything like that,'' Thomas said. ''I don't think guys talk about it. I think the guys that are doing are keeping it quiet.''

Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine, the team's player representative since 1990, said the union may have to address the issue, but he's not sure how.

''It's easy for me to sit here and say I don't care about drug testing because I don't take steroids and don't take drugs,'' he said. ''It's not a big deal to me, but obviously there is much greater cause for concern that goes into why you would or would not agree with doing that.''

Owners would like to test major leagues for drugs, but the union has opposed testing in the past. Management has made a proposal about steroid testing in collective bargaining.

''The association regards the issue as a serious and complicated one and will treat those discussions accordingly,'' union spokesman Greg Bouris said.

There may be rumors about certain players, but Yankees manager Joe Torre said that's all he's ever heard -- rumors.

''I'm not sure how widespread this problem is,'' Torre said. ''I've seen players go from tall, skinny guys to tall, strong guys. Sure, you can say he's got to be doing something, but I've never had anybody tell me for sure that, 'This person is doing this.' It's always, 'I heard this guy is doing it.'''

Toronto manager Buck Martinez believes his clubhouse is clean.

''I would fight for the character of my 25 players,'' he said. ''There are so many wonderful people that play baseball. You have to be careful not to paint everybody with the same brush.''

But as a player, Martinez admitted he didn't always know what others were doing around him when baseball went through a drug-using scandal in the 1980s.

''I came from the baseball generation of cocaine abuse,'' Martinez said before the Blue Jays played Boston. ''I was naive to that when my teammates were involved.''

While the NFL and NBA prohibit steroids and test for them, the NHL and major league baseball have no policy regarding their use. A ban in baseball, or even testing players on 40-man rosters would have to be collectively bargained with the players' union.

''It's all a matter of what a guy wants to do to his body,'' Indians infielder John McDonald said. ''It's a personal choice, and what people should be talking about is what guys are doing with their lives.''

Thomas said he'd have no problem being tested.

''I know what I put into the game day in and day out,'' he said. ''I feel cheated if everyone's on steroids, because I know how I've worked to get to this level and try to maintain it.

''I think it's time for testing and I think it's very important,'' he added. ''The league should do something about that.''

Mets outfielder Jay Payton doesn't necessarily believe steroid use can be called an unfair advantage.

''I don't know if it's really cheating or not. Who's to say steroids should be illegal?'' he said. ''There's plenty of legal stuff to take to serve that purpose. If they did test, it might even the playing field.

''If you take steroids, it doesn't mean you can hit a 95 mph fastball.''

But Payton didn't like when there were rumors that his frequent injuries early in his career were related to steroids.

''When I was in the minors someone told me they heard a scout say, 'Now that's Jay's not taking steroids anymore maybe he won't get hurt so much.' I was mad after I heard that,'' he said.

Indians designated hitter Ellis Burks is troubled by the claims, and feels the numbers are exaggerated.

''When you go out and use some kind of steroid to enhance your performance, that's pretty much cheating,'' Burks said. ''It's going on. A lot of people do it and have been for a while. I don't think half the league. But there is a certain number.''

McDonald and Burks both said they can understand why some players might choose to risk taking something if they see that it's working for another player.

''It's a great debate,'' McDonald said. ''Do you do it? Do you not do it? If you had the opportunity to play in the big leagues, and you only had a small window of opportunity to do it in, what would you do?''



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