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SPORTS TODAY

Armstrong shows mettle in final Tour tuneup

Lance Armstrong easily won the time trial prologue of the Tour de Suisse, his final tuneup for an attempt at a third straight Tour de France title.

Armstrong needed 9 minutes, 44.22 seconds on Tuesday to complete the five-mile loop around the Europark theme park near Germany's border with Switzerland.

"It was difficult, there was a lot of wind," said Armstrong, who won a time trial bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics. "It felt like you were always on the brakes and then accelerating. To win a time trial you can't be weak. Mentally I'm focused and physically I'm there."

Meanwhile, the team manager for French cyclist Richard Virenque said Virenque paid German cycling rival Jan Ullrich $14,000 to let him win a stage of the 1997 Tour de France.

Virenque, who finished second to Ullrich in the final standings, offered him cash after they went clear of the other riders on the July 20 14th stage, Roussel said in a new book, "Tours de Vice."

Virenque, currently suspended from racing after telling a trial in France last year that he took drugs at the 1998 race, refuted Roussel's allegations.

Agassi has tough row to hoe on Wimbledon grass

Wimbledon's new seeding system, designed to reduce the chance of early round upsets, didn't help Andre Agassi in Tuesday's draw.

Pete Sampras, bidding for his eighth Wimbledon title, and defending women's champion Venus Williams will be heavily favored in their opening matches. So will Jennifer Capriati, who has swept the year's first two Grand Slam tournaments.

But the second-seeded Agassi must start against Peter Wessels, a dangerous Dutchman who is ranked only 91st but has shown an affinity for grass-court tennis in the last week. Wessels beat U.S. Open champion Marat Safin at the Queen's Club tournament last Wednesday and upset last year's Wimbledon runner-up, Patrick Rafter, at the Heineken Trophy event Tuesday.

Wimbledon doubled the number of seeded players this year to 32 men and 32 women, a change adopted by all four Grand Slam tournaments to protect star players from tough early matchups. None of Wimbledon's 10 top-seeded players will face an opponent ranked higher than 53rd in the first round.

As the defending men's champion, Sampras will play the opening match on Centre Court for the eighth time Monday when he faces Francisco Clavet, a Spaniard more comfortable on clay.

In the women's draw, top-seeded Martina Hingis will open against Spaniard Virginia Ruano Pascual. Williams, seeded second, will play Shinobu Asagoe of Japan. Capriati begins against Maria Alejan Vento of Venezuela.

Davenport eases back with Eastbourne victory

Lindsay Davenport played her first match since March and beat Anne-Gaelle Sidot of France, 6-3, 6-2, to reach the Eastbourne, England, quarterfinals.

"The knee didn't bother me at all today," Davenport said. "Hopefully, I'm over it. But the more matches I play on it, the better I can tell."

Davenport, seeded first in this Wimbledon tuneup, was forced to withdraw from a Miami tournament three months ago with a bruised right knee.

Davenport won Wimbledon in 1999 and was runner-up a year ago to Venus Williams.

On Tuesday, she double faulted seven times. But she also had six aces and hit strong groundstrokes.

"That's why I'm here, to get all those kinks out and work my game back up to a high level," she said.

Kentucky's Bogans opts out of NBA draft

University of Kentucky guard Keith Bogans, after not playing as well as he wanted in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp earlier this month, he has decided to return to Kentucky for his junior season.

Bogans followed teammate Tayshaun Prince in returning to UK after testing the NBA option.

Last season Bogans was UK's leading scorer (17 ppg) and was named to the all-Southeastern Conference second team.

Elsewhere in college basketball, Josh Maravich decided to play for LSU, where his father, Pete Maravich, was one of the most dazzling players in the history of the college game.

Syracuse commits to season-opening tourney

The Syracuse Orangemen will participate in the Coaches vs. Cancer basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden at the beginning of the 2002-03 season.

Jim Satalin, national director of the tournament, said Monday that Syracuse is the first team to give him a firm commitment for the event. "Syracuse is in it," Satalin said. "Syracuse is the only school we've got confirmed right now. There are five or six schools that we've spoken to that will make it a top-level event."

Pats withhold payment to Terry Glenn

The New England Patriots have withheld a $1 million payment on Terry Glenn's signing bonus while waiting for a final decision concerning a recent arrest.

Glenn, a six-year veteran, was arrested for assaulting the mother of his 5-year-old son during an argument last month at his Walpole, Mass., home. He has pleaded innocent, and a pretrial hearing is set for July 17th.

The Boston Herald first reported that the Patriots did not make a deferred payment due Friday on the $11.5 million signing bonus that was part of a contract extension signed last year to keep Glenn in New England through 2007.

In Cincinnati, former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason has pledged $1 million to a hospital to help hire a top scientist in pulmonary research. The money would be channeled through Children's Hospital Medical Center, which has provided care to Esiason's son, who was diagnosed in 1993 with cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disease.

Negotiations continue for Tyson-Lewis fight

A fight between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis is in the works, although TV and boxing executives warned the deal wasn't done.

Rival cable networks holding rights for Tyson and Lewis' bouts are negotiating, and Jay Larkin of Showtime said chances for an agreement by the end of the year were 50-50. He refused to characterize the two sides as "close" to a deal. "You're not close until you're done," said Larkin, senior vice president and executive producer of Showtime, which televises Tyson's fights. "Unless papers are signed, it doesn't matter how close you are."

Baffert denied stay of 60-day suspension

The chairman of the California Horse Racing Board denied a request to stay the 60-day suspension of trainer Bob Baffert for a positive drug test on one of his horses 13 months ago.

Baffert's attorney, Neil Papiano, filed an appeal Tuesday with the CHRB and also requested a stay pending that appeal. Robert Tourtelot, chairman of the Sacramento-based CHRB, denied the stay.

Baffert's suspension is scheduled to run June 25 to Aug. 23.

Elsewhere in racing, jockey Chris Griffith rode three winners at the Fort Erie Race Track Tuesday to increase his meet-leading total to 34. Griffith won the featured ninth race aboard Dimanno ($4.30) after scoring with Bay Lake Bound ($3.40) and Classic Gulch ($9.10).

St. Joe's captures 12th straight Cup

First-place finishes in cross country, soccer, golf, swimming, hockey and baseball helped St. Joe's win its 12th straight Msgr. Martin Athletic Association AA League Supremacy Cup. The Marauders edged St. Francis, 43 points to 41 1/2 .

All of the league's schools receive a point for participation in 14 different sports with bonus points awarded for regular-season standings and tournament championships.

St. Mary's of Lancaster ran away with the A League title, accumulating 21 points to second-place Niagara Catholic's 13.

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