Thursday's Sports in Brief

Thursday's Sports in Brief
January 18, 2013, 6:43 am
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CHICAGO (AP) He did it. He finally admitted it. Lance Armstrong doped.

He was light on the details and didn't name names. He mused that he might not have been caught if not for his comeback in 2009. And he was certain his ``fate was sealed'' when longtime friend, training partner and trusted lieutenant George Hincapie, who was along for the ride on all seven of Armstrong's Tour de France wins from 1999-2005, was forced to give him up to anti-doping authorities.

But right from the start and more than two dozen times during the first of a two-part interview Thursday night with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN network, the disgraced former cycling champion acknowledged what he had lied about repeatedly for years, and what had been one of the worst-kept secrets for the better part of a week: He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a U.S. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time.

Wearing a blue blazer and open-neck shirt, Armstrong was direct and matter-of-fact, neither pained nor defensive. He looked straight ahead. There were no tears and few laughs.

He dodged few questions and refused to implicate anyone else, even as he said it was humanly impossible to win seven straight Tours without doping.

``I'm not comfortable talking about other people,'' Armstrong said. ``I don't want to accuse anybody.''

Whether his televised confession will help or hurt Armstrong's bruised reputation and his already-tenuous defense in at least two pending lawsuits, and possibly a third, remains to be seen. Either way, a story that seemed too good to be true - cancer survivor returns to win one of sport's most grueling events seven times in a row - was revealed to be just that.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Not once but twice after he supposedly discovered his online girlfriend of three years never even existed, Notre Dame All-American linebacker Manti Te'o perpetuated the heartbreaking story about her death.

An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasn't she dead, she wasn't real.

On Thursday, a day after Te'o's inspiring, playing-through-heartache story was exposed as a bizarre lie, Te'o and Notre Dame faced questions from sports writers and fans about whether he really was duped, as he claimed, or whether he and the university were complicit in the hoax and misled the public, perhaps to improve his chances of winning the Heisman.

HOUSTON (AP) - Penn State coach Bill O'Brien won the Paul ``Bear'' Bryant College Coach of the Year Award.

O'Brien led the Nittany Lions through an 0-2 start and NCAA sanctions to an 8-4 finish in his first season at Penn State.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Al Pacino will play Joe Paterno in a movie about the late Penn State football coach.

Producer Edward R. Pressman confirmed Brian De Palma will direct ``Happy Valley,'' the tentative title of the film, based on Joe Posnanski's best-seller ``Paterno.''

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The NCAA said it has no immediate plans to spend the $12 million already paid to it as part of the sanctions against Penn State over its handling of child sex abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The fate of that money - and the rest of the $60 million Penn State owes the NCAA - is the subject of two legal challenges, one from a state lawmaker and the other from Pennsylvania's governor.

PRO FOOTBALL

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's defamation lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the bounty case was dismissed by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan in New Orleans ruled in favor of Goodell's motion to dismiss Vilma's complaint, which was filed in May and set out 11 claims. Vilma had argued that Goodell made false statements, tarnishing the player's reputation, in connection with the league's investigation of what it determined was a system that offered cash bonuses to Saints players for big hits from 2009-11.

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - The Arizona Cardinals filled the NFL's final head coaching vacancy by hiring Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

The team confirmed the hiring in a release, saying Arians received a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth year.

The 60-year-old longtime assistant went 9-3 as Colts interim head coach while Chuck Pagano was undergoing treatment for leukemia last season.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The San Diego Chargers hired former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt to serve as the team's offensive coordinator.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Novak Djokovic absorbed plenty of pressure from Radek Stepanek before advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open and still had plenty left to unleash some stinging shots at Lance Armstrong after the doping-tainted cyclist's long-expected confession.

Djokovic broke the 34-year-old, 34th-ranked Stepanek late in each set of a 6 -4, 6-3, 7-5 win Friday, extending his winning streak to 17 matches at the Australian Open.

In the next match on Rod Laver Arena, Maria Sharapova beat Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in an unexpectedly lopsided third-round result.

At Djokovic's post-match news conference, the questions quickly turned from tennis to Armstrong's confessions about doping in cycling during his television interview with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday night.

``I think it's a disgrace for the sport to have an athlete like this,'' said Djokovic, the No. 1-ranked man in tennis. ``He cheated the sport. He cheated many people around the world with his career, with his life story.''

Djokovic will play No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat American Sam Querrey 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-4. In other matches, fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat Austria's Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and will next play South Africa's Kevin Anderson, who beat No. 22 Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

In the women's draw, Angelique Kerber survived some nervous moments before fending off American teenager Madison Keys 6-2, 7-5 in their third-round match. Kerber will next play No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, who advanced after a tough 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 win over 2007 Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli.

Fourth-seeded Angieszka Radwanska, meanwhile, won her 12th match in a row with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Britain's Heather Watson.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Kobe Bryant was voted to his NBA-record 15th consecutive All-Star start, leading four Los Angeles players into next month's game.

Lakers teammate Dwight Howard and the Clippers' Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will join Bryant in the Western Conference lineup for the Feb. 17 game in Houston. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, the MVP of last year's game, rounds out the five.

Kevin Garnett held off Chris Bosh in fan balloting, giving the East two Boston Celtics and two Miami Heat players. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will represent the defending champions and receive passes from Rajon Rondo. New York's Carmelo Anthony is the other starter.

NEW YORK (AP) - NBA players should consider whether they want to keep Billy Hunter as executive director of the players' association after a series of wrongdoings, according to a review of the union.

The report found no evidence of illegal use of union funds, but revealed that Hunter withheld knowledge that his contract was never properly approved, used poor judgment with his hiring practices and spent improperly on travel and gifts.

The eight-month review by the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP urged players to consider Hunter's position when they meet next month at the All-Star break.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - A person familiar with the diagnosis says Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was found to have relatively minimal cartilage damage in his left hip during surgery this week.

NEW YORK (AP) - Toronto's R.A. Dickey heads a starting pitching staff missing David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain on the preliminary U.S. roster for the World Baseball Classic.

Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees' Mark Teixeira and the Mets' David Wright are among 27 players on the roster. The roster also includes Joe Mauer and Jimmy Rollins, and the bullpen is headed by Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel.

Final 28-man rosters are due Feb. 20 and must include at least 13 pitchers and two catchers. The U.S., managed by Joe Torre, opens against Mexico on March 8, then plays Italy and Canada to complete its first-round group.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The NL East champion Washington Nationals signed right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano to a $28 million, two-year contract that includes $14 million in deferred money.

CHICAGO (AP) - Matt Garza and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a $10.25 million, one-year contract that avoids salary arbitration.

HOUSTON (AP) - Outfielder Rick Ankiel and the Houston Astros have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

The 33-year-old converted pitcher batted .228 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 68 games with the Washington Nationals last season.

SOCCER

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Louisville defender Andrew Farrell was selected by the New England Revolution with the top pick in Major League Soccer's draft.

Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez was taken by Chivas USA with the second pick. Toronto then selected Kyle Bekker, a Canadian midfielder from Boston College, and Vancouver drafted 18-year-old forward Kekuta Manneh.