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AROUND & ABOUT

Flyweight boxer admits to cocaine use

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Super flyweight champion Johnny Tapia said he isn't addicted to cocaine and only used it once, about three days before he took a drug test that came out positive.

Tapia, speaking to the media for the first time since the test results were reported Thursday, said he succumbed to peer pressure at a gathering on or about Nov. 11.

"Other people there were doing it, so I did it," Tapia said at a news conference. "It was a one-time thing that happened and it will never happen again.

"Some people are going to think I'm a drug addict. I'm not and I'm going to prove it."

Tapia, 23, tested positive for cocaine Nov. 14, nearly three weeks after he defended his U.S. Boxing Association title against Santiago Caballero of Venezuela in Albuquerque.

Cooper stands out among Italian hoop stars

Michael Cooper was the MVP, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hugged him at midcourt. The Lakers of a few years ago? Nope. The L.A. Forum. Not a chance.

It was the Italian All-Stars, and the site was the Paleur Arena in Rome, Cooper's new homecourt.

Cooper had only six points as his South squad beat the North, 182-176, but he also had two trophies, the cheers of 15,000 fans and a hug from an old teammate who was there on a promotional tour.

Cooper was among nearly 20 former NBA players who competed in the contest, an annual showcase for the foreign stars in the Italian basketball league.

J.J. Anderson led the winners with 29 points, living up to his status as the leading scorer in Italy's premier A-1 division. Brazil's Oscar Schmidt and Larry Middleton of the North squad shared game scoring honors with 35 points apiece.

But the night belonged to Cooper, the former Lakers guard who joined Il Messaggero Roma this season after 11 years in the NBA. Cooper beat three-time defending champion Schmidt in the three-point shooting contest, then was chosen the game's most valuable player.

Elsewhere in basketball, Lavan Mercer scored 22 points to lead Israel to its first basketball victory ever over the Soviet Union, 79-74, in a preliminary-round of the European Championships at Jerusalem.

Wagstaff captures 100 backstroke

INDIANAPOLIS -- Janie Wagstaff won the 100-meter backstroke and Summer Sanders defeated ailing Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans in the 400 individual medley as both women became double winners at the U.S. Open Swimming championships.

Wagstaff's victory gave the 16-year-old from Shawnee Mission, Kan., a sweep of the two backstroke events for the second consecutive year. Sanders, a teammate of Evans at Stanford, swept the two medley races. Evans had gone more than three years without losing in the 400 medley.

Wagstaff, a high school junior who emerged as America's top backstroker in the past year with the retirement of Betsy Mitchell, won her race in 1 minute, 3.43 seconds -- her best unshaved time in the event by more than 2 seconds.

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