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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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For a January game, Wizards vs. Pistons has plenty of playoff implications

For a January game, Wizards vs. Pistons has plenty of playoff implications

Winners of six of their last nine games, the Washington Wizards have breathed new life into their season, now with revitalized hopes of making the playoffs. On Monday, they will get a shot at one of the teams standing in their way.

With a 2 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington, the Wizards host the Detroit Pistons in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee. The Wizards are 10th in the Eastern Conference and the Pistons are ninth.

With a win over the Pistons, the Wizards would move into a tie for ninth, just one spot out of the playoff picture. Though more than two months remain in the regular season, the Wizards can gain some valuable ground.

Whether that is on their mind going into the match-up depends on whom you ask.

"It's definitely too early to talk about it," head coach Scott Brooks said.

"I think there are some very important games [coming up] where we go head-to-head against the guys who are around us in the standings," guard Tomas Satoransky said, singing a different tune.

Satoransky doesn't just see an opportunity against the Pistons on Monday, he mentioned Friday's game against the Magic as well. Orlando is one spot behind the Wizards in 11th.

The standings are one thing. Even more important for the big picture is head-to-head records, which determine tiebreakers for playoff seeding. The Wizards are 0-1 against the Pistons, having lost in Detroit on Dec. 26. 

A win on Monday would tie the season series with only one meeting left, on Feb. 11. If the Pistons win on Monday, they would lock up the tiebreaker.

The Wizards have reasons to be confident going into this meeting with the Pistons. While they are playing their best basketball of the season, Detroit has been in a tailspin. Going back to Dec. 3, they are 7-18. Only the Cavaliers have more losses during that stretch.

In those 25 games, the Pistons have been 28th in the NBA in offensive rating (103.6) and effective field goal percentage (49.6). They have committed the third-most turnovers per game (15.6).

Injuries haven't been the reason, but the Pistons have a few to report entering Monday's game. All-Star center Andre Drummond missed their last game on Saturday with a concussion and is considered day-to-day. Guard Ish Smith is also day-to-day after missing Saturday's game with a groin injury.

The Wizards have a chance to beat a reeling team and gain some control of their playoff hopes. We'll see if they take advantage.

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That time Antonio Brown and Kyler Murray practiced together

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That time Antonio Brown and Kyler Murray practiced together

Thanks to Antonio Brown, we have the hopes and dreams of a splashy off-season for the Washington Redskins in one tidy four-second video.

Brown, the NFL’s best receiver, is angling for a trade out of Pittsburgh.

Kyler Murray is the reigning Heisman Trophy quarterback and a projected 2019 first round pick.

During the NFC Championship game, the Steelers wide receiver tweeted out a clip of him hauling in a deep pass from the University of Oklahoma product. Yes, that’s going to draw some eyeballs, perhaps especially from fans of a team with quarterback uncertainty and lacking offensive playmakers.

Another OU standout, wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown”, joined his cousin Antonio and Murray for the workout. This isn’t the first time all three shared a field.

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The best rolled thru today, appreciate you @ab 📞

A post shared by Kyler Murray (@kyler1murray) on

Marquise Brown, a true speed threat, could become the first wide receiver selected in the 2019 draft.

There’s no way for the Redskins to land all three. Even two seems highly unlikely considering the two prospects are projected first-round selections and acquiring Brown would cost a No. 1 and plenty more. It’s still cool to dream. Considering the quarterback concerns with Alex Smith, Jamison Crowder entering free agency and the need for more pieces regardless, even landing one of them would work.

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