Launched by French police, yet another investigation into doping allegations against six-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong. Two and a half years after their fruitless 19-month probe into rumors that Armstrong's team had used banned drugs, authorities opened a new probe into allegations by Armstrong's former masseuse Emma O'Reilly that he used performance-enhancing substances in 1999. Armstrong said he welcomes investigators "to review my long history of tests for performance-enhancing drugs, which I have never failed." O'Reilly's allegations, which were made in the book L.A. Confidential, are also being used by SCA Promotions, a Dallas insurance company, as grounds to launch their own investigation and withhold $5 million it indemnified--half of a bonus Armstrong earned from his management company for winning six Tours in a row. The matter is now tied up in arbitration. Armstrong's agent, Bill Stapleton, says his client was declared the winner and that's all that matters: "If Lance had won the Tour de France this year on a motorcycle and the Tour de France said, 'We are naming him the winner,' then that's the end of the story."
Died of undetermined causes at age 22, Eastern Connecticut State guard Antwoine Key, who collapsed four minutes into a game against Worcester (Mass.) State last Thursday. The 6'4" senior, a 2001 graduate of West Roxbury (Mass.) High., had scored five of the Warriors' seven points and was jogging up the floor when he suddenly fell. He died at the hospital a short time later. "I just assumed he tripped and that he was going to get up ... and flash me that Antwoine smile," said coach Bill Geitner.
Died of an apparent heart attack at age 53, Don Poier, the voice of the Memphis Grizzlies since their inception. Even though he chronicled the exploits of what was often one of the NBA's worst teams--he sat through losing streaks of 23 and 19 games--Poier, who moved to TV this year after nine seasons on radio, was known for his upbeat style. "I truly love the game," he once said. "I can't tell you how many times, 30 seconds before I go on the air, I thank the good Lord above that I get to do what I do."
Withheld from the paychecks of NBA referees as of Jan. 1, income tax on the value of the two complimentary tickets officials get to games they work. The refs, who can receive up to $25,000 worth of tickets a year, aren't the only ones now paying for freebies. Some teams, including the Kings and Knicks, have begun withholding taxes on players' tickets--a practice that's "bull," according to Sacramento forward Chris Webber, who's making $16 million this season.
January 31, 2005
Awarded to the family of seven-year-old Antonia Verni, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1999 car crash with a drunken football fan, a $135 million verdict. Giants Stadium beer vendor Aramark must pay $105 million; $30 million was assessed to the driver, David Lanzaro, 34. At halftime of a Giants game a visibly drunk Lanzaro bribed a stadium vendor with $10 to sell him six beers. (Sales are normally limited to two beers at a time and are cut off after halftime.) Lanzaro's blood alcohol level was more than triple the legal limit when he crashed into the Verni family car three miles from the stadium; he pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and is serving a five-year prison sentence.
Won two races at Santa Anita on Jan. 19, his first wins since being reinstated earlier this month, jockey Patrick Valenzuela. The 42-year-old, who has been suspended 11 times for substance abuse since 1988, was granted a license--on the condition that he maintain 11/2 inches of hair. Last year he was suspended after dodging a hair follicle test for drugs by shaving his entire body.