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Company withholding $5M from Armstrong

The company that owes Lance Armstrong $5-million for winning a record sixth straight Tour de France is withholding payment of the bonus, citing allegations in a French book that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

SCA Promotions points to doping allegations contained in L.A. Confidential, the Secrets of Lance Armstrong, published in June by La Martiniere.

Armstrong has denounced the book's claims as "absolutely untrue" and launched defamation lawsuits against the publisher and authors. SCA attorney Chris Compton said Thursday the company wants to see medical records before releasing the money.

Armstrong's U.S. Postal Cycling Team filed suit this month in state court in Dallas, claiming the SCA didn't have the right to question Armstrong's Tour victories, which were upheld.

COPPA SABATINI: Former Tour de France champion and five-time runner-up Jan Ullrich won in Peccioli, Italy, confirming his status as a top contender for the world championships in Verona next week.

SPANISH VUELTA: Spain's Javier Pascual Rodriguez edged Colombia's Ivan Parra at the finish in Avila to win the 18th stage, his fourth win of the race. Defending champion Roberto Heras of Spain kept the overall lead.


La Salle player charged

A third La Salle basketball player has been charged with rape over an alleged 2003 sexual encounter with a female player from the school that was reported to coaches at the time but not to police, officials said.

Dzaflo Larkai, 22, surrendered Wednesday on rape and related charges, said Sgt. Sean McGlinn of the Philadelphia Police Department's special victims unit. Larkai had his ties with the university severed after his arrest, La Salle spokesman Joe Donovan said.

The case _ combined with the July arrests of teammates Michael Cleaves and Gary Neal, who allegedly raped a severely intoxicated female camp counselor _ led to the resignation this summer of La Salle's men's and women's coaches.

WOMEN'S FINAL FOUR: Six officials from the NCAA and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association toured the St. Pete Times Forum and looked at the Tampa Convention Center with an eye toward the space and setup for the coaches meeting as well as an exhibit hall. They stopped by numerous hotels to determine which ones best fit the needs of the four teams, the coaches, the media and the NCAA. Once that has been done, contracts can be signed for the nearly 5,000 rooms needed for the event.

_ BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer

USF: Brandon star Zaronn Cann will make an official visit next weekend. Cann, a 6-foot-5 guard who has visited West Virginia and Virginia Tech, is considering offers from both schools as well as the Bulls, Brandon coach Mark Herrmann said.

_ GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer


NHLPA files grievance

The NHL Players Association filed an unfair-labor-practice charge alleging the league failed to provide a list of locked out players. The union told the National Labor Relations Board in New York on Sept. 21 that it asked for the names three days before but hadn't received them. The union didn't give a reason for requesting the list. NHL spokesman Frank Brown declined comment. NHL owners locked out players last week.

KINGS EXEC FINED: President Tim Leiweke has been fined by commissioner Gary Bettman for comments he made in a radio interview concerning the league's labor problems. In an interview with radio station KROQ last Friday, Leiweke said among other things that he believes the lockout will last the entire season and called NHLPA chief executive Bob Goodenow "a bald-faced liar." Leiweke said Goodenow had lied to the players by not telling them of the Kings' financial losses.

HOCKEY DAD TRIAL: The Massachusetts appeals court in Boston declined to allow a new trial for a father convicted of beating a man to death at their sons' practice. Upholding a lower court judge, the appeals court rejected Thomas Junta's claim that the prosecution withheld information that could have been used to undermine a key witness during his 2001 trial. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for beating Michael Costin to death at a Reading rink in 2000, after Junta got angry over rough play on the ice.

FORSBERG IN SWEDEN: Peter Forsberg had a goal and an assist in the Swedish Elite League in his first game in his hometown of Ornskoldsvik in 10 years.


BOXING: Former champion Ricardo Mayorga missed a rape case hearing in Managua, Nicaragua because he is training for a bout in New York, and a new hearing was set for Oct. 6. Mayorga was to appear Wednesday for an initial hearing following a complaint by a 22-year-old woman. Judge Martha Lorena Martinez said if he does not appear Oct. 6 he an arrest warrant would be issued. James Toneyrelentlessly pursued Rydell Bookerand punched him almost at will on his way to a lopsided decision in their 12-round heavyweight fight in Temecula, Calif.

TENNIS: U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova struggled against a Chinese qualifier backed by a wild crowd, defeating Li Na 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-3) to reach the China Open quarterfinals in Beijing.

TRACK: Justin Gatlin followed his Olympic victory by capturing the 100 meters at the Yokohama Super meet in Japan while former world-record holder Maurice Greene finished fifth. Gatlin was timed in 9.97 seconds, with American countryman Leonard Scott second in 10.14.

HORSES: Ron Piercewaited until the final turn to take Timesareachanging to the lead and then held off stablemate Western Terror by a half-length to win the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio. Timesareachanging was timed in 1:51 3/5.

SOCCER: Thomas Rongen, who coached the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996, was hired as coach of Club Deportivo Chivas USA, an MLS expansion team set to play in April in Carson, Calif.

Compiled from Times wires.


WHAT HAPPENED: The NHLPA filed a grievance against the league. See story, this page.


WHAT THE LIGHTNING WOULD BE DOING: The Lightning would have played its preseason opener Thursday in Montreal.

QUOTABLE: "I believe in the game. I believe when we fix this the right way, our fans will come back. It may take us a little time We may have to lower ticket prices. We may have to re-earn their hearts and affections." _ Commissioner Gary Bettman in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.