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May 24, 2007 at 5:45 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 24 (UPI) -- IOC sanctions Austrian Olympic Committee

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, May 24 (UPI) -- Funding totaling $1 million was withheld from the Austrian Olympic Committee because of a doping scandal that led to the banning of six Austrian athletes.

The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee said in a release Thursday that it unanimously voted to withhold grants and subsidies of $1 million from the Austrian committee shortly after the IOC barred the Austrian Winter Games participants.

In April, the IOC said that six biathletes and cross-country skiers were "permanently ineligible" for the Olympic Games. During the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, authorities reportedly found syringes and bags for storing blood and linked them to the athletes.

The Austrian Olympic Committee was ordered to report by July the results of its own investigation into the matter and that it has implemented organizational changes to make sure it doesn't recur.

The IOC said it would invest the withheld funding in anti-doping programs.


Brian Leetch retires from NHL

NEW YORK, May 24 (UPI) -- Two-time Norris Trophy winner Brian Leetch is retiring, ending an 18-year career in the National Hockey League.

Leetch played for the New York Rangers for more than 16 seasons and is the team record-holder for goals, assists and points by a defenseman. He scored 247 goals and was credited with 781 assists over 1,205 games.

Leetch, a 39-year-old native of Corpus Christi, Texas, was drafted by Rangers in 1986 and made his NHL debut on Feb. 29, 1988. He played with New York until he was traded to Toronto prior to the 2004-05 season, which was canceled. He signed with Boston and played one season. He didn't play this past year.

"I have been fortunate to be an NHL player since 1988," said Leetch in a statement released Thursday. "I missed being in the NHL this past season but believe it was the right time for me to stop playing."

Leetch won the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the NHL, in 1992 and 1997. He was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff most valuable player in the Rangers' Stanley Cup championship run in 1994.


Argentina makes world team finals

DUSSELDORF, Germany, May 24 (UPI) -- Juan Ignacio Chela and Jose Acasuso claimed singles victories Thursday giving Argentina a berth in the finals of the ATP World Team Championship in Germany.

The singles victories, along with the straight-set win by the doubles team of Agustin Calleri and Sebastian Prieto, put Argentina past Chile in round-robin play and secured the Red Group championship.

Chile will meet the Blue Group finalist for the tournament title on Saturday. Teams from the Czech Republic and Germany play Friday to determine the Blue Group winner.

Chela stopped Fernando Gonzales 6-3, 7-5, and Acasuso ran over Nicolas Massu 6-3, 6-4 for the Argentines' singles win and the best-of-three point. Both Argentina and Chile went 2-1 in round-robin play but the head-to-head win put Argentina in the finals.

In the other half of the Red Group, Sweden defeated the United States 2-1. Thomas Johansson beat Mike Bryan, 6-3, 6-3, and Robin Soderling topped James Blake, 6-3, 6-3, in the singles matches. Bryan and his brother Bob Bryan teamed for a doubles victory for the United States.


Sharapova to Istanbul semifinals

ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 24 (UPI) -- Top-seeded Maria Sharapova was pushed to a third set Thursday but still advanced to the semifinals of the $200,000 Istanbul Cup tennis tournament.

Sharapova took the opening set against seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska but dropped the second. That seemed to get her attention and Sharapova ran through the final set without dropping a game. The final scores in Sharapova's win were, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.

She will face Aravane Rezai in the tournament semifinals Friday. Rezai, who upset Venus Williams Wednesday, stayed hot with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Meghann Shaughnessy.

The other semifinal pits No. 2-seeded Elena Dementieva against Alona Bondarenko. Dementieva needed to rally for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Catalina Castano in her quarterfinal. Bondarenko advanced when Patty Schnyder withdrew because of a leg injury.


BMW Championship has co-leaders

SURREY, England, May 24 (UPI) -- Paul Broadhurst and Justin Rose shot 6-under-par 66s Thursday to share the lead after one round of the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship in Surrey, England.

Broadhurst, a six-time winner on the European Tour, played his 51st round at the event. His round included five birdies in the first eight holes and 21 putts overall.

"That's the best score I have had here and it certainly took long enough to pull one out," he said. "It's one of the best putting rounds I have ever had."

Rose also benefited from a hot putter.

"I putted really, really well today," Rose said. "I hit very few putts in practice, but every time the putter felt really, really good in my hands."

There is a four-way tie for third at 5-under 67. That group includes last year's runner-up, Simon Khan.

Defending champion David Howell withdrew due to a back injury.

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