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CYCLING

Tour de Georgia will not ride next year

The Tour de Georgia has been called off for the second consecutive year.

The 2009 race was shelved due to financial struggles.

The seven-day race has been billed as North America's premier professional cycling event, but there was no title sponsor the past two years of the event.

Tom Saddlemire , board member of the Tour de Georgia Foundation, says organizers remain committed to reviving the race "as soon as possible." He says calling off the race was the best decision for the "current economic climate."

- In Paris, an official in the French prosecutor's office says the Astana team that won the 2009 Tour de France is the target of a preliminary investigation after the discovery of suspicious syringes during the race.

Astana's Alberto Contador won the Tour, while teammate and seven-time champion Lance Armstrong finished third in his return from retirement.

The Le Monde newspaper Web site said Wednesday that a police report given to prosecutors says that syringes belonging to Astana were among items recovered

SAILING

Alinghi responds to Oracle's sail claims

In Geneva, a day after having the legality of its sails questioned by U.S. challenger BMW Oracle Racing, America's Cup champion Alinghi has defended itself in a bitterly worded Christmas card addressed to its rival.

The Swiss club said in a statement Wednesday, "BMW Oracle's accusations regarding the defending yacht are simply false."

BMW Oracle claims that Alinghi is planning to use sails built in Nevada when the America's Cup rivals meet in February, and says that is a violation of the 19th century document governing sailing's marquee event.

Alinghi, however, said its new catamaran and its sails were built in Switzerland, meaning it complies with the "constructed in country" requirement in the Deed of Gift.

OLYMPICS

French runner will get bronze medal

In Paris, Medhi Baala will be given the 1,500-meter bronze medal from the Beijing Olympics after Bahrain's Rashid Ramzi was stripped of the gold for doping.

The French Olympic Committee said Baala will receive the medal in Paris on Jan. 6.

Baala finished fourth in the race at the 2008 Summer Games but has been upgraded because Ramzi was among five athletes who tested positive in November in retroactive tests for CERA, an advanced version of the blood-boosting drug EPO.

- In Steamboat Springs, Colo., Johnny Spillane has qualified for the U.S. Nordic combined Olympic team, defeating rivals Todd Lodwick and Billy Demong at Olympic trials.

Spillane overcame a 9-second disadvantage to finish the 10- kilometer race Wednesday with a time of 25 minutes, 15 seconds -- three seconds ahead of Lodwick.

Also, defending moguls world champion Patrick Deneen and World Cup titlist Hannah Kearney have won Olympic trials to earn spots on the U.S. freestyle team.

Deneen scored 26.68 points Wednesday to edge out Jeremy Cota for the automatic spot.

HORSE RACING

Sunland Derby finally gets graded

In Sunland Park, N.M., Sunland Park officials are celebrating after their signature event finally became a graded stakes race.

It caps a four-year campaign by Sunland Park and places the $800,000 Sunland Derby, scheduled for March 28, firmly on the road to the Kentucky Derby. The American Graded Stakes Committee made the Sunland Derby a Grade 3 race.

The New Mexico race will have more drawing power to attract top horses and trainers.

It offers a substantial purse and, if more than 20 horses enter the Kentucky Derby, preference is given to those with the most graded stakes earnings.

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