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Cuban trainer joins ranks of defectors

Cuban boxing trainer Mariano Leyva, who criticized the training methods in his country, has defected, saying he was afraid the government might punish him for his opinions.

Leyva, a 13-year veteran of the Cuban national boxing team, surfaced in Miami Tuesday. He disappeared from the Atlanta Olympics on Saturday.

He is the fourth Cuban to defect during this Olympic year, and the first during the Games.

"I was supposed to return to Cuba after the Olympic Games and I had certain problems back home so I decided I had to stay for my freedom," Leyva said during a news conference. "I was afraid they would try to squash me, take away my job."

Leyva had been on loan to help train the Mexican boxing team, and said he never intended to defect. But he said he learned Cuban officials were unhappy with his criticism of Cuban training methods, and feared he would be punished when he returned home.

Leyva had accused other trainers of pushing Cuban boxers too hard and putting them in weight classes he didn't think they should fight in.

Leyva contacted friends in Miami and arranged to meet them Saturday at a bank building in Atlanta. They then drove to Miami.

LEWIS CAMPAIGNS: Carl Lewis turned up the pressure on U.S. coaches to let him go for a record 10th gold medal on the 400-meter relay team.

A day after winning the long jump to become just the fourth person with nine Olympic golds, Lewis pointed to an ESPN Internet poll in which 65 percent of respondents said Lewis should be added to the relay team _ an overwhelming favorite for gold.

"People want me to run the relay and they think I have the right to run," said Lewis, who has anchored six 400-meter relay teams to world records. "That's where the pressure is coming from, it's not coming from me."

U.S. men's track coach Erv Hunt said he was happy with the current lineup of Jon Drummond to Leroy Burrell to Mike Marsh to Dennis Mitchell. But he refused to rule out the possibility that Lewis will end up on the relay.

If one of the four current members gets hurt, Hunt said, Lewis could be added to the squad _ even though he's not an alternate and refused to attend a U.S. training camp in North Carolina in mid-July.

Mitchell, set to fill the anchor leg that Lewis traditionally has run, said he'd love to see Lewis get his 10th gold, but not at the expense of one of the current relay runners. "To put Carl on, you've got to take somebody off. And that's not cool, man."

Lewis cramped up in the 100 final at the U.S. Olympic trials and finished last. He was one of seven relay candidates invited to the North Carolina camp, but declined to attend.

The first round of the relay is Friday. The final is Saturday.

MORE DRUG WOES: Russian swimmer Nina Zhivanevskaya flunked a drug test for Bromantan, the International Olympic Committee said. Zhivanevskaya, who finished eighth in the women's 200-meter backstroke, was the second swimmer from Russia and third of that nation's athletes overall to flunk a test for Bromantan, which is identified as a stimulant but also is used to mask the presence of other drugs.

The court said late Tuesday that no appeal of Zhivanevskaya's case had been filed. Russian Olympic officials were unavailable for comment.

Also nabbed earlier for Bromantan was Lithuanian cyclist Rita Raznaite. Raznaite did not appeal, but her case led to two other drug expulsions. The IOC said it had banned Vitaly Slionssarenko, the Lithuanian cycling team physician, and revoked the credential of the team's coach, Boris Vasilyev, on drug-related offenses.

DREAM TEAM EVACUATES: The U.S. men's basketball team was evacuated from its Atlanta hotel after a bomb threat, forward Charles Barkley said.

He said security guards at the Omni Hotel, which is near Centennial Olympic Park, were "banging on doors" at about 11 a.m., forcing the players and other guests to go outside. Barkley said his understanding was that an object was found that resembled an explosive, but wasn't.

Police spokesman John Quigley said he had no information on the Omni incident.

SPECIAL VISIT: The 14-year-old daughter of the woman killed in the park bombing left her hospital bed for a private meeting with members of the Dream Team at their hotel.

Fallon Stubbs was with her mother, Alice Hawthorne, when a pipe bomb exploded in the early hours of Saturday. Fallon sustained deep flesh wounds to her arms and legs.

Fallon was invited as the team's guest for the game against Brazil Tuesday evening.

_ TIMES WIRES

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