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Knievels' "pimp' suit thrown out

A federal appeals court threw out a defamation lawsuit Evel Knievel and his wife brought against ESPN for labeling the daredevil a "pimp."

Knievel, 66, and his wife, Krystal, claimed a caption to a photograph posted on the cable network's Web site damaged their reputations by implying involvement in illegal prostitution. It showed the two and an unidentified woman above a caption that read: "Evel Knievel proves that you're never too old to be a pimp." The lawsuit sought unspecified damages.

The appeals court, ruling 2-1 Tuesday, agreed with ESPN that the caption and other material on the site was based on humor. In dissent, Judge Carlos Bea said the case should be heard because "pimp is reasonably susceptible to a defamatory meaning."


WTA Tour gets sponsor

Cell phone maker Sony Ericsson agreed to become the global title sponsor for the women's pro circuit in a deal worth $88-million over six years, the Associated Press reported. It said the renaming of the tour to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour will be announced today. The tour had been without a global sponsor for 2003 and 2004, relying on regional deals.

TOURNAMENTS: Tampa's James Blake beat Peter Wessels 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) to help the United States top the Netherlands 2-1 in the teams' Hopman Cup opener at Perth, Australia. Meghann Shaughnessy, a late addition to the U.S. team for injured No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, beat 15-year-old Michaella Krajicek 7-5, 6-4. French Open champion Gaston Gaudio was upset by top-ranked junior Gael Monfils 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in the Qatar Open's first round. Top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt opened his 2005 singles season with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over Arnaud Clement in the first round of the Australian men's hardcourt championships at Adelaide.


Derby doubles purse

Churchill Downs Inc. doubled the guaranteed purse for the Kentucky Derby to $2-million, putting it in a tie for the second richest U.S. horse race behind the Breeders' Cup Classic. The track also will award money to the fifth-place finisher for the first time. The winner will receive $1.24-million, second place $400,000, third $200,000, fourth $100,000 and fifth $60,000. The Dubai World Cup is the world's richest race with a $6-million purse, while the Breeders' Cup Classic is at $4-million. The Breeders' Cup Turf and Distaff also offer $2-million.


Writers honor three

Dan Jenkins, who has covered 177 major championships, has been honored by the Golf Writers Association of America with the William D. Richardson Award for his consistent and outstanding contributions to the game. Hubert Green received the Ben Hogan Award for coming back from cancer to resume play on the Champions Tour and Jay Haas won the ASAP/Jim Murray Award for his cooperation and accommodation with the media.

FUTURES TOUR: The LPGA's developmental tour marks its 25th season with 18 tournaments in 13 states, including new events at McAllen, Texas; Lawrence, Kan., and Kankakee, Ill. The average purse will be more than $68,000. Play again begins in Lakeland March 11-13, followed by an event in Oldsmar March 18-20.


MOTORSPORTS: NASCAR driver Robby Gordon fell from first to seventh overall with a ninth-place finish in the fifth stage of the Dakar Rally. Former World Rally champion Colin McRae of Scotland reclaimed the overall lead with his second win of the competition. His Nissan covered 237 miles between Agadir, Morocco, and Smara, Western Sahara, in 3 hours, 37 minutes, 14 seconds.

CYCLING: Two top officials of Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton's former Phonak team resigned after a series of doping scandals. Urs Freuler quit as manager and was replaced by John Lelangue, who has worked for the Tour de France for 10 years. Alvaro Pino also quit as team sporting director. The International Cycling Union has refused Phonak a racing license for 2005 because of the team's doping record.

Compiled from Times wires.