In Brief | Nation and World June 29


Armstrong uninvited, unwanted guest at 100th Tour

PORTO VECCHIO, Corsica — Lance Armstrong made himself the uninvited guest at the Tour de France on Friday, coming back to haunt the 100th edition of the race and infuriating riders both past and present by talking at length in a newspaper interview about doping in the sport.

Armstrong told Le Monde that he still considers himself the record-holder for Tour victories, even though all seven of his titles from 1999-2005 were stripped from him last year for doping.

He said his life has been ruined by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation that exposed as lies his years of denials that he and his teammates doped. He also took another swipe at cycling’s top administrators, darkly suggesting they could be brought down by other skeletons in the sport’s closet.

None of those comments broke new ground, but in answering questions from Le Monde — a newspaper he scorned when he was still competing — Armstrong ensured that his views on doping at the Tour would have maximum impact in France and couldn’t easily be written off as sour grapes being hurled at the race from afar. The respected daily is very much France’s newspaper of record. Its interview with the rider and his assertion that doping won’t be eradicated from cycling dominated French airwaves ahead of the race start today, causing dismay and anger in the sport desperate to prove that it has turned the page on his era of serial cheating.

Connecticut man arraigned in Hernandez murder case

ATTLEBORO, Mass. ­— Two men authorities say were in a car with former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez before one of his friends was shot to death were in custody on Friday, one charged with illegally carrying a gun and the other accused of being an accessory after murder.

Prosecutors, who this week charged Hernandez with murder, haven’t said who fired the shots that killed his friend Odin Lloyd, a Boston semi-pro football player.

Carlos Ortiz, who was arrested in Connecticut but was transferred to Massachusetts to face the gun charge, and Ernest Wallace, who walked into a South Florida police station to surrender, were identified earlier as being with Hernandez and Lloyd the night of his shooting death, a prosecutor said.

Ortiz was charged Friday with carrying an unlicensed firearm in North Attleborough on June 17, the day Lloyd was found shot to death near Hernandez’s home there. Details of the charge weren’t released.

Wallace, whose wanted poster was released Thursday night, surrendered in Miramar, Fla., police said. Authorities had been seeking Wallace on a charge of acting as an accessory after Lloyd’s murder. Details of that allegation also weren’t released.

Keselowski wins Nationwide race at Kentucky

SPARTA, Ky. — Brad Keselowski took his final lead on the 156th lap and went on to a rain-shortened victory Friday night in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Showers halted the race at lap 170 in the scheduled 200-lap event, but drivers were expecting it to resume before another pocket of rain forced officials to it off. Keselowski settled for doing victory spinouts, being careful to avoid sliding into the wall on a night mostly spent on firm footing.

‘Emotional’ Pistorius resumes track routine

JOHANNESBURG — A bearded and much skinnier Oscar Pistorius was “overcome with emotion” as he pulled on his carbon fiber running blades for his first track training since the killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, his agent said.

With a short beard and a blue hooded Nike sports top, the lean-looking double-amputee Olympian did some light jogging at his first formal session in around five months on Thursday. He then described his return to a regular track routine for the first time since he fatally shot Steenkamp at his home on Feb. 14 as “bittersweet” to his agent, Peet van Zyl.

Pistorius’ return to training was seen in a brief video clip released by his family. In the footage, which is around two minutes long, the athlete is first sitting on a chair at his usual training track at the university pulling on his running blades. He then does some light jogging on the sunbathed track and, finally, wipes his face with both hands as he walks off the track, hinting at the emotion Van Zyl described.

Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder for Steenkamp’s Valentine’s Day shooting death. He denies murder and says he shot his girlfriend accidentally, believing she was an intruder in his house. Pistorius’ next court appearance is Aug. 19, when prosecutors may indict him and a date could be set for the start of his murder trial, possibly in September or October. He faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted by a judge of premeditated murder. There is no trial by jury in South Africa.

Report: 8 more Turkish athletes caught doping

ISTANBUL — Turkey has been hit by eight more athletes reportedly caught using banned substances, just days after eight of the country’s weightlifters were pulled out of the Mediterranean Games after failing doping tests at a training camp.

Anadolu news agency says on Friday the latest group includes 2004 Olympic silver medalist hammer thrower Esref Apak among seven other athletes, mainly hammer throwers and runners.

Anadolu says officials called on the athletes to pull out if taking part in the Mediterranean Games, which end Sunday in Mersin, Turkey.

The latest in a string of doping cases means another setback for Turkey, as Istanbul aims to win its bid for the 2020 Olympics ahead of Tokyo and Madrid. In May, Olympic 1,500-meter champion Asli Cakir Alptekin and European indoor hurdles champion Nevin Yanit were charged with doping violations.

Haslams selling Tennessee Smokies baseball team

KODAK, Tenn. — Cleveland Browns owner and Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam are selling the Tennessee Smokies minor league baseball team.

Pilot Flying J is under a federal investigation into alleged rebate fraud. Lauren Christ, a spokeswoman for Pilot Flying J, said the sale of the Smokies wouldn’t affect Haslam’s ownership of the Browns and was unrelated to the investigation.

Randy Boyd, the CEO of Knoxville-based Radio Systems Corporation and a top education adviser to Gov. Haslam, is buying the Chicago Cubs’ Double-A Southern League affiliate, the team announced Friday.

Graham Zusi elects to remain with Sporting KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After solidifying his place on the U.S. national team, midfielder Graham Zusi signed a new contract with Sporting Kansas City on Friday in a coup for Major League Soccer.

Zusi generated interest from clubs in the English Premier League and elsewhere, but instead chose to remain with his domestic club.

The 26-year-old was an All-Star and MVP finalist last season after recording five goals and an MLS-leading 15 assists. Zusi has three goals and five assists this season while earning a starting spot with the U.S. as it tries to qualify for its seventh straight World Cup.

Japan’s players call for commissioner to step down

TOKYO — Japan’s players union has called for the resignation of Nippon Professional Baseball’s commissioner following revelations that a new official ball was introduced this season without notifying players.

Toru Matsubara, the secretary general of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, submitted a document to NPB saying commissioner Ryozo Kato should resign and be replaced by someone who can demonstrate leadership.

With almost half the season played, NPB acknowledged this month for the first time that a new ball was being used. The new, livelier ball has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of home runs.

The 71-year-old Kato said he didn’t know the ball had been changed.

From wire sources