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AP Interview: Tennis mulls anti-doping step

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AP Interview: Tennis mulls anti-doping step

PARIS (AP) Tennis is considering whether to adopt blood-testing measures used by cycling and track to catch drug cheats.

``We are looking very, very carefully at an athlete biological passport program in tennis,'' International Tennis Federation anti-doping manager Stuart Miller told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Biological passport programs in cycling and in track and field monitor athletes' blood readings over time for possible tell-tale indications of doping. The federations for those sports, the UCI and the IAAF, have used evidence of doping gathered from these programs to ban athletes and target others for more testing.

Miller said ``it would be nice'' if tennis can establish such a system in 2013.

``I don't want to say it's definitely happening until we actually say, `Here's a program. It's up and running,''' Miller said. ``We're looking at it to ensure that if we do run it, we can run it properly.''

Miller said the ITF also is working toward more of the blood and out-of-competition drug tests it already does on players.

In the wake of cyclist Lance Armstrong's life ban from sports for doping, Roger Federer and Andy Murray called for more out-of-competition and blood testing in tennis.

Murray called the Armstrong case ``pretty shocking.''

``You would hate for anything like that to happen to your own sport,'' Murray said before the season-ending ATP finals in London.

Federer said: ``We don't do a lot of blood testing during the year. I'm OK having more of that.''

The ITF and the World Anti-Doping Agency conducted just 21 out-of-competition blood tests - used to detect the abuse of growth hormone, transfusions using blood from donors, and blood-doping substances CERA and HBOCs - in tennis in 2011.

The vast majority of tests in tennis in 2011 - 2,019 of a total of 2,150 - were urine.

``We're working hard to try to increase the proportion of out-of-competition testing, and particularly blood testing, and we've been working on that for a while,'' Miller said. ``I'm hopeful that by the end of the year, we'll have made some inroads into improving that.

``Like any anti-doping program, we're subject to resource constraints.''

Miller told the AP that the ITF tested Federer an average of eight times per year from 2004-2006, 11 times per year from 2007-2009 and nine times per year in 2010-2012.

Just three of the out-of-competition blood tests in 2011 were on female tennis players. ITF statistics on its web site show it didn't test Serena Williams out of competition at all in 2010 and 2011, years she won the Australian Open and Wimbledon and lost a U.S. Open final.

The ITF did test Williams in-competition at least seven times in 2010 and between 1-3 times in-competition in 2011.

``I get tested a lot,'' Williams said last month at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. ``For me, it's a pretty intense system, and I know a lot of the players feel the same way.''

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's web site shows that before one test in the second quarter of this year, it hadn't organized a test on the 15-time major winner since 2008.

Li Na, the 2011 French Open women's singles winner from China, also was not tested out of competition by the ITF or WADA in 2011 or in 2010, but was tested in-competition.

Of the 642 tested tennis players, 510 were not tested out of competition at all in 2011 - when athletes aren't playing between events or in the offseason.

Cycling conducted 6,500 more tests than tennis on professional road racers last year and an average of nine tests per rider, compared to an average 3.4 tests per player in tennis.

By way of comparison, Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the Giro d'Italia, has had 22 urine tests and 13 blood controls so far this year.

The ITF budget shows it spent $1.3 million on testing in 2011, which Miller said doesn't include salaries and other operating expenses.

That is less than Federer and Williams each pocketed for winning the men and women's singles titles at Wimbledon this year.

Cycling says it spent $4.7 million on testing alone in 2011, with teams, riders, race organizers and the UCI all contributing.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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