Armstrong cleared for comeback race



Cycling's governing body is relaxing its rules to allow Lance Armstrong to make his comeback at a road race in Australia in January. The International Cycling Union said yesterday that the seven-time Tour de France champion can compete in the Jan. 20-25 Tour Down Under, his first race since coming out of retirement after three years. A strict application of testing rules would not have allowed the Texan, 37, to compete until Feb. 1, 2009, six months after he filed paperwork with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. But the UCI said Armstrong could return early because its drug-testing standards have improved since the rule was drawn up four years ago. Armstrong's comeback is meant to draw attention to his global campaign to fight cancer, a disease he survived before winning seven straight Tours from 1999 to 2005. It is also a defiant stand against critics who doubt he could have achieved those victories without the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Now he is liable to be tested at any time without notice and will have his own biological passport as part of a UCI-backed initiative to monitor possible doping offenses.

Auburn fires Franklin as offensive coordinator


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Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville fired offensive coordinator Tony Franklin just seven games into his tenure, pulling the plug after the Tigers' rocky attempt to adapt to his spread offense. The 20th-ranked Tigers (4-2) have struggled offensively all season after entering as the favorites to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division. They have dropped SEC games to LSU and Vanderbilt after beating Mississippi State by an unusual score of 3-2. It was not immediately clear who would call plays Saturday against Arkansas. Franklin brought an offense to the Tigers that was a big departure from the more smash-mouth, conservative style Tuberville had long favored. It received an abundance of attention leading up to the season but never clicked. Franklin spent four seasons at Kentucky, serving as offensive coordinator and receivers coach during the 2000 season for an offense that finished second in the country in passing.

West Virginia:: Over the past three weeks, Mountaineers quarterback Pat White twice tweaked a thumb and got hit in the head hard enough to knock him out of a game. He says he'll be ready Saturday, though, against Syracuse. White was gang tackled in the third quarter Saturday against Rutgers. He got up, walked off the field, was taken to the locker room temporarily and returned to watch backup Jarrett Brown close out the 24-17 win. "I've never had my bell rung like that," said White, who indicated he feels normal. It marked the second straight game White didn't finish. In a 27-3 win over Marshall, White reinjured his thumb on his throwing hand, which he had dinged in a loss at Colorado a week earlier.

Southern California:: Quarterback Mark Sanchez did some work in practice, giving the Trojans hope that he'll be able to play against Arizona State on Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum. "Much better today," USC coach Pete Carroll said. Sanchez suffered a bone bruise in his left knee in the third quarter of USC's 44-10 victory over Oregon on Saturday.

Southern Methodist:: Don Meredith will return to SMU next weekend to have his No. 17 jersey retired. Before "Dandy Don" starred for the start-up Dallas Cowboys, then became a popular broadcaster on Monday Night Football, he was a star quarterback for the Mustangs from 1957 to 1959. Meredith, who keeps a low profile these days while living in Santa Fe, N.M., will be honored at halftime of the SMU-Houston game Oct. 18 in Dallas. He'll be the sixth SMU football player honored, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson, Raymond Berry - who starred at wide receiver for the Baltimore Colts - Doak Walker, Forrest Gregg and Lamar Hunt.

Woods' event might move to Philly area

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Tiger Woods could be bringing professional golf back to the Philadelphia area. Members at Aronimink Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia are to vote Wednesday on whether to accept a proposal to host Woods' AT&T; National for two years, in 2010 and 2011, while Congressional Country Club in Bethesda undergoes renovation for the 2011 U.S. Open. The vote comes after nearly a year of discussions between Aronimink board members and officials from the tournament and the Tiger Woods Foundation, which benefits from the event. The AT&T; National will be played at Congressional in 2009. The greens at the club are to be renovated in 2010, and the U.S. Open will be played there the next year. Aronimink officials were excited about the prospect of hosting Woods' event, which would be the first professional golf in the Philadelphia area since the Senior PGA Championship was played there in 2003.


Olympics: : Any athlete who thought he or she got away with doping at the Beijing Olympics shouldn't rest easy. The drug police are coming back. The International Olympic Committee said it will retest samples from the games to search for a new blood-boosting drug at the center of the latest Tour de France scandals. The move reflects the IOC's aggressive attempts to nab drug cheats not just during an Olympics, but weeks, months and even years later once new tests become available. Results and medals could be at stake. The Beijing samples will be reopened and tested in particular for CERA, a new generation of the endurance-enhancing hormone EPO.

Pro basketball: : Washington Wizards center Brendan Haywood will have surgery for a torn ligament in his right wrist, but it was not clear how much of the regular season he will miss. Haywood, hurt during training camp, visited two hand specialists in New York. His operation has not been scheduled, and the team said it wouldn't have a timetable for his return until after the surgery. Washington did get some good medical news about another starter, though: All-Star forward Antawn Jamison has a bruised right knee and is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. He was hurt during the first quarter of Washington's preseason opener at Dallas on Tuesday night.

More pro basketball: : Celtics coach Doc Rivers was not with the team for its exhibition opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, a 98-92 loss, in Amherst, Mass., so he could return to his home in Orlando, Fla., for a personal matter. Also missing for the defending NBA champions was backup point guard Sam Cassell, who was in his native Baltimore to be with an ill family member.

Horse racing: : The Breeders' Cup is heading back to the home of the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs in Louisville will host the world championships for a seventh time Nov. 5-6, 2010, the event's first trip to the track since the Cup expanded to a two-day format in 2007. The 27th Breeders' Cup will feature 14 championship races with a projected $25.5 million in purses available. Churchill last hosted the Breeders' Cup in 2006 and the track's interest in holding horse racing's biggest event seemed to cool over concerns about the revenue sharing between the track and the Breeders' Cup.

College basketball: : North Carolina's pursuit of a return to the Final Four is off to a bumpy start. Senior Marcus Ginyard will miss eight weeks after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, robbing the Tar Heels of their do-everything, 6-foot-5 swingman who started every game last season.