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Kim Gallagher, 38, dies; middle distance running star

Kim Gallagher was one of only two U.S. women to win Olympic medals in the middle distances, track races of 800 to 5,000 meters.

Her ex-coach, Chuck DeBus, marvels at what Gallagher might have done if she had been healthy.

"I think she was the most gifted middle distance runner ever," DeBus said Wednesday.

Gallagher, 38, mother of a 13-year-old daughter, died Monday at a suburban Philadelphia hospital of complications related to her seven-year battle with stomach cancer.

During the five-year period in which she won Olympic silver (1984) and bronze (1988) medals in the 800, Gallagher suffered from anemia, ovarian cysts and chronic fatigue syndrome.

"In those five years she trained with me, there was hardly a week when she could train more than 20 miles," DeBus said. "There was always something wrong."

"For her to have done what she did on 20 miles a week, she had to be a genetic freak -- in the best sense of the word."

Gallagher's association with DeBus took on an unsettling dimension in 1990, when USA Track & Field suspended him for life for allegedly providing performance-enhancing drugs to his athletes. She denied ever using drugs.

Gallagher began training with DeBus a year after leaving Upper Darby (Pa.) High School, where in 1982 she ran the 800 in 2 minutes 00.07 seconds, still the U.S. junior record. She also holds the U.S. high school record at 1,500.

LPGA chief says Augusta is wrong to exclude women

LPGA Tour Commissioner Ty Votaw urged Augusta National to admit a female member, saying its obligation to golf outweighs its rights as a private club.

The LPGA Tour is not involved with the Masters. Votaw said he wanted to make his position clear because, "We represent not just women, but the game."

"Augusta's exclusionary practices with respect to women speaks volumes," he said Wednesday at the season-ending ADT Championship in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He said the club's decision to treat race differently from gender is "perpetuating golf's exclusionary past and the perception that golf is elitist and exclusionary."

Club spokesman Glenn Greenspan disagreed. He said single-gender groups like Augusta National and the LPGA are "legally and morally proper."

For openers, Tiger struggles in Japan's Dunlop Phoenix

Tiger Woods struggled to save par today while Darren Clarke shrugged off rainy conditions for a 7-under 64 and a two-stroke lead in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan.

"To shoot even par is a mini-miracle," said Woods, who had four birdies and four bogeys in a round of 70. "I didn't hit it well and didn't putt well, but managed to salvage the round with a couple of birdies near the end."

Clarke, from Northern Ireland, had six birdies on the front nine.

Elsewhere, the first round of the Australian Open was called off today because the dry greens at Victoria Golf Club were too fast. The tournament has been reduced to 54 holes. Play was suspended after players complained that their balls would not stay on the putting surface. After Richard Ball putted past the hole three times, and the ball rolled back 20 feet, his playing group refused to continue.

Vargas is hit hard with penalties for steroids

Fernando Vargas went before Nevada boxing authorities Wednesday prepared to take his punishment for using steroids. He just didn't expect so much of it.

Despite putting himself at the mercy of the Nevada Athletic Commission, Vargas was suspended for nine months and fined $100,000 for testing positive for steroids following his Sept. 14 loss to Oscar De La Hoya.

Though the suspension was retroactive to the De La Hoya fight, it means Vargas cannot fight until June 15 and will miss a proposed April comeback fight that was to be televised on network TV.

"We like Mr. Vargas but we feel like this is the right thing to do," commission chairman Luther Mack said.

Commissioners appeared to believe the steroid use was inadvertent, but still voted 4-1 to penalize Vargas and send a message that steroids won't be tolerated.

Mike Tyson announced he will fight Clifford Etienne on Feb. 22 at the Pyramid arena in Memphis, Tenn.

Programmer pleads guilty in Breeders' Cup scheme

A computer programmer admitted in court he was the inside man for a series of betting scams on horses that culminated with a $3 million win from the Breeders' Cup last month.

He also implicated his two co-defendants, who were his fraternity brothers in college.

Chris Harn, 29, of Newark, Del., told a federal judge in White Plains that he used his job at Autotote, which handles most of the nation's racetrack and off-track betting, to manipulate bets during races.

In pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering conspiracies, Harn said he used one co-defendant's Off Track Betting account to place a Pick Six bet on the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup "and later modified it so it would win."

The $12 wager -- six $2 bets -- immediately drew the scrutiny of authorities because of its unusual nature. The $3 million was not paid, and an investigation was launched. Now, all bettors who picked five of the six winners at the Breeders' Cup stand to earn more money.

No mention was made in court of whether Harn will testify against co-defendants Derrick Davis, 29, of New York, and Glen DaSilva, 29, of Baltimore.

Overmatched team seethes after rout

Walkerville 115, Lakeshore 2. And it could have been worse.

"What do you tell our girls? Not to play?" Walkerville High Athletics Director Ron Stoneman said a day after his Detroit school stomped winless Hart Lakeshore Public Academy in a girls basketball playoff game. "It had the potential to be really, really bad."

The blowout left Lakeshore Academic Director Steve Hamilton seething about a lack of sportsmanship.

"To me, if you run up the score like that, you have to answer for yourself," Hamilton said. "I have my doubts about a school that would go and run up a score by 100 points."

Walkerville coach Steve Kirwin said he doesn't schedule teams like Lakeshore -- with a student body of 50 in the final four grades -- during the regular season. But during the playoffs, "you play who they tell you to play."

Kirwin said he promoted girls from the junior varsity and freshmen teams, and did not use his normal pressure defense against overmatched Lakeshore.

By halftime, Kirwin said, three girls hadn't scored. So he said only they could shoot.

"I'm not going to tell my kids to not continue to play," Kirwin said.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association did away with a differential rule during the offseason. Under the old rule, the clock ran continuously if a team built a 40-point lead in the second half and maintained at least a 30-point advantage.

Around & About

Baseball pushed ahead with two major international initiatives, shifting 22 of Montreal's home games next year to Puerto Rico and moving a season-opening series between Seattle and Oakland to Japan. The Expos will play three homestands covering seven series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. Commissioner Bud Selig also appointed a committee to find a solution for the Expos, who were purchased by the other 29 teams before last season and are operated by the commissioner's office. Washington, D.C.; Portland, Ore.; and Charlotte, N.C., are among the bidders.

Runaway Tiger, winner of five of six races at Finger Lakes Race Track this year, ran away with the honors at the track's awards banquet. The 4-year-old mare, trained by Charlton Baker for owner Sharlene Finnigan, was named best female and horse of the year.

Fredonia's Tom Briggs scored a power-play goal in a losing cause as the visiting Blue Devils (6-3) dropped a 2-1 hockey decision to Hobart (5-3). Fredonia goaltender Simon Maignan made 25 saves in his first collegiate start.

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