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Things get worse for cyclist Hamilton

Olympic cycling champion Tyler Hamilton was suspended Wednesday by his pro team, which threatened to fire him if he can't prove he's innocent of blood doping.

Hamilton could lose his time-trial gold medal if backup tests confirm results from earlier tests at the Athens Games and the Spanish Vuelta showing another person's blood in his system.

He denied receiving a transfusion, which can boost performance by increasing the amount of oxygen-transporting red blood cells in the system.

Phonak team boss Andy Rihs said in a statement, "For the moment, we have to concentrate on the facts. These seem to speak against Tyler. But so long as we're not 100 percent certain that he's guilty of manipulation, we will believe him."

That stance, however, is a far cry from the staunch support of Hamilton the team showed Tuesday, when Rihs declared he didn't "fire innocent people" and that "Tyler is innocent as long as no one proves the contrary."

Hamilton said he is losing endorsement deals. "Already it has ruined a lot for me _ my reputation," he said.

SPANISH VUELTA: Felix Cardenas of Colombia won the 105-mile 17th stage from Caceres to La Covatilla. Defending champion Roberto Heras of Spain held the overall lead for the sixth straight day.

OLYMPICS

Korean rewarded

More than a month after the Athens Games, South Korean gymnast Yang Tae-young got his gold medal. Sort of. Yang, who lost the all-around title to Paul Hamm after a scoring error and placed third, received a replica gold medal from the Korean Olympic Committee and a $20,000 check _ the same prize promised to South Korea's other gold medalists. Yang's appeal of the result to the Court of Arbitration for Sport will be heard Monday in Switzerland.

DRUG LIST: A drug used for prostate problems and hair loss was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances. Finasteride, known by the brand name Proscar, can work as a masking agent to hide performance-enhancing drugs.

SPORTS LIST: Golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports are in the running for possible inclusion at the 2012 Olympics.

PARALYMPIC GAMES

U.S. sailors eye medals

USA Sonar and 2.4-meter boats will make one last dash for medals in today's final sailing races at Athens. Tom Brown of North East Harbor, Maine, regained a share of the lead in the 2.4-meter class, and the Sonar boat of J.P. Creignou of St. Petersburg, John Ross-Duggan of Newport Beach, Calif., and Brad Johnson of Milwaukee remained in the hunt for bronze.

NBA

Sura has surgery

Guard Bob Sura had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and is expected to be out until about two weeks after the Rockets' season opener on Nov. 6. The former Florida State star, who signed with Houston in August, was injured during an offseason workout three weeks ago. Kevin Willis, 42, rejoined Atlanta, his original team, after a 10-year absence. The 7-footer was a reserve for San Antonio last season. Philadelphia center Todd MacCulloch retired, ending an attempted comeback from foot problems that sidelined him the past 1{ seasons.

ET CETERA

SOCCER: In men's college play, Eckerd scored twice in the final 12 minutes to defeat host Tampa 2-0, and visiting Stetson rallied for a double-overtime tie at 2 with South Florida. Igor Simutenkov scored on a free kick in overtime to give the host Kansas City Wizards a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire in the championship match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

TENNIS: Top-seeded Serena Williams struggled past Dinara Safina 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova routed Tatiana Panova 6-1, 6-1 to reach the China Open quarterfinals.

Compiled from Times wires.

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