IOC president expects 30-40 drug cheats
BEIJING, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The president of the International Olympic Committee said Thursday he would be pleased if there were less than 30 positive drug tests during the Beijing Games.
At a news conference on the eve of the opening ceremonies, IOC President Jacques Rogge used a historical reference to make a prediction on the number of drug cases he expected to come out of the Olympics.
There were 3,500 drug tests taken at the Athens Olympics four years ago, he said, and 26 of them were positive.
"So between 30 to 40 (positive tests are expected)," Rogge said. "If we have less, I'd be extremely glad because that would mean there would have been a deterrent effect."
Rogge said it was unrealistic to expect no positive tests in Beijing.
"There will always be criminality in society," he said. "You cannot imagine a society without laws, without prisons, without cops, without justice. It's exactly the same in sport. You have approximately 500 million people practicing competitive sport around the world. You don't have 500 million saints on Earth."
NFL set to initiate ticket exchange effort
NEW YORK, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- NFL officials say the professional football league is prepared to initiate "NFL Ticket Exchange," an online ticket exchange program.
NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said beginning on Thursday, fans of the National Football League will be able to use the online program to buy or sell tickets to NFL games nationwide, USA Today reported.
"Over the last 5-10 years, the secondary ticket market has gotten to the point where this is an important amenity for our fans," Grubman said. "It's really become an essential way a fair number of our fans choose to buy tickets -- or sell their excess tickets."
The offering from NFL.com and TicketMaster.com will allow those involved in such sales to set their own ticket prices, meaning the ticket's face value can be exceeded as long as it stays within various state laws.
USA Today said the football league already leads all other professional sports leagues in ticket prices. The newspaper said that according to the Team Marketing Report newsletter, the average cost of an NFL ticket reached $67.11 last season, an increase of 6.9 percent from the preceding season.
Yao calls flag bearing 'serious issue'
BEIJING, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Yao Ming, who will have the honor of carrying the host nation's flag in the Olympic opening ceremonies, Thursday called the responsibility a "serious issue."
Yao, who missed the final six weeks of last season with the NBA's Houston Rockets because of a stress fracture in his left foot, will be the Chinese flag bearer for the second straight Olympics.
"But it will be totally different from my experience in Athens," he said 24 hours prior to the official start of the Beijing Games. "The atmosphere will reach its hottest point. I'm afraid I will have to wear ear plugs."
Yao carried the Olympic torch Wednesday through central Beijing.
"Unlike holding the torch, where you can be relaxed and creative, holding the national flag will be a serious issue," he said. "I will take it seriously."
Yao will be one of two NBA stars to carry their nation's flag in the opening ceremonies. Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks will carry Germany's flag. Nowitzki helped Germany earn the final qualifying spot in the Olympic tournament.
Americans win in men's Olympic soccer
TIANJIN, China, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Stuart Holden's shot slipped through the goalkeeper's grasp in the 47th minute Thursday, giving the United States a 1-0 Olympic soccer win over Japan.
It was a major success for the Americans, who haven't won an Olympic medal in men's soccer in 104 years.
The Japanese missed an open net twice and supplied a majority of the pressure but it was Holden who managed the lone goal. He took a cross from Marvell Wynne and rifled a low shot. Goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa got a hand on the ball but it trickled past him and into the net.
The United States, playing in Group B in Tianjin, will take on the Netherlands on Sunday in the second of three round-robin games. The Americans' hopes for a berth in the quarterfinals was helped along Thursday when the Netherlands had to settle for a 0-0 tie with Nigeria.
The top two finishers in each of the four groups make it to the quarterfinals.
In other action Thursday, Argentina defeated Ivory Coast 2-1 and Australia tied Serbia 1-1 in Group A; Brazil downed Belgium 1-0 and China tied New Zealand 1-1 in Group C; and Italy ran away from Honduras 3-0 while South Korea and Cameroon tied 1-1 in Group D.
Field set for Arlington Million
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Eight horses have been entered for Saturday's 26th running of the Arlington Million at Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Ill.
All are world-class field turf runners.
The 1 1/4-mile grass race is included in the "Win and You're In" program with the winner qualifying for the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf later this year.
Drawing the inside post is the leader of the European contingent and 2-1 morning-line favorite Archipenko, the winner of the Summer Mile Stakes on July 12 at Ascot.
Overall Archipenko has won $924,698 in four of 13 career races.
Another European horse, Mount Nelson, is a 5-2 second choice and will start at post seven.
Its trainer, Aidan O'Brien, attempts to capture his second Arlington Million crown, having won it in 2005 with Powerscourt.
The top American contender is Einstein, who is 7-2 in the morning-line and will start from post six.
Also entered are Stream Cat (8-1) and Spirit One (10-1).