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Federer, Williams say Armstrong let athletes down

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Federer, Williams say Armstrong let athletes down

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Roger Federer says Lance Armstrong's admission that he took performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career has affected all of sport and the world's athletes.

``What a sad story,'' Federer said after his three-set win Saturday over Bernard Tomic at the Australian Open. ``Obviously he's hurt his sport in a big way, even though he helped it in the beginning. But now the burden they live under, all other sports maybe as well.''

Federer, a 17-time major winner, said he watched the first portion of the interview that Armstrong did with Oprah Winfrey.

``I guess all I needed to see was the first few minutes and then I knew what was the deal, and the rest I don't really care,'' Federer said. ``I'm an active athlete right now, and it's not fun times really to be in sports to a degree.''

Serena Williams said Armstrong let all athletes down by doping and lying about it for so long, while top-ranked Victoria Azarenka says the disgraced cyclist ``deserves everything he gets.''

``I think a lot of people now look and are like, `OK, if somebody (is) that great, what about everyone else in every other sport?''' Williams said.

``As an athlete, as someone that works really, really hard since I was 4 or 3, I think it's a sad day for all athletes in general. Overall, it's even more disappointing for the people that were adversely affected through everything. You can only just hope for the best for them.''

Azeranka said ``everybody works so hard to be the best.''

``You cannot be a hero in the end of the day,'' Azeranka said. ``You cannot lie. You cannot cheat. Everybody works so hard to be the best, and you have to respect that.''

On Friday, No. 1 Novak Djokovic said it was a ``disgrace for the sport to have an athlete like this'' and that Armstrong should ``suffer for his lies.''

In the second half of his televised interview with Oprah Winfrey on Friday night, Armstrong said he lost $75 million in sponsorship deals after his doping use was revealed.

In the first part, broadcast Thursday, Armstrong admitted he used drugs such as blood-boosting EPO when he won seven straight Tour de France races. Armstrong was subsequently stripped of his Tour titles, as well as an Olympic bronze medal he won in the road time trial at the 2000 Sydney Games.

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

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USA TODAY Sports

Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

Free agency does not start until July 1, but John Carlson's agent is already taking calls from other interested teams.

The interview period began at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means teams are now able to reach out to any potential free agents, but no contracts can be signed until July 1. While Brian MacLellan said Friday that a new deal with Carlson to keep him in Washington was "really close," Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, has made it clear there was no deal in place yet as of Sunday.

So does this mean Carlson now has one foot out the door?

Not necessarily.

At this point in the negotiation, Carlson has a major advantage and that advantage is time. Sunday's interview period is just another way to hold the Caps' feet to the fire. The closer we get to July 1, the more pressure the team is under to get a deal done.

But the Caps still have some leverage too.

“I love it here and all that,” Carlson said during on breakdown day. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”

By rule, as his current team, the Caps are the only team that can offer Carlson an eight-year deal.

So Carlson may have turned up the heat a few degrees on the Caps, but it's not time for fans to worry just yet.

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Nationals look to avoid sweep against Phillies on Sunday night

Nationals look to avoid sweep against Phillies on Sunday night

WASHINGTON -- Having already won their first series at Nationals Park since April 2016, the Philadelphia Phillies will go for the sweep of Washington on Sunday night.

Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.08 ERA) faces Nationals right-hander Jefry Rodriguez (0-0, 4.66).

Pivetta was drafted by the Nationals in 2013 and went to the Phillies in 2015 as part of the Jonathan Papelbon trade.

After struggling for three straight starts -- giving up 13 runs in 14 innings -- Pivetta allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings of a no-decision against the St. Louis Cardinals last time out, striking out a career-high 13 batters.

"That's some of the best stuff I've seen him have all year," catcher Andrew Knapp told mlb.com. "The curveball was electric."

Pivetta got 11 swings and misses with the curveball.

"It was nice to have it back," Pivetta told mlb.com. "It all started with my delivery. I was staying up through it, not trying to rush too much and it worked out."

It his first start -- and second big-league appearance -- the 24-year-old Rodriguez picked up a win against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. He allowed five runs, four hits and three walks in five innings.

Rodriguez and Satuday's losing pitcher, Erick Fedde, are filling in for injured starters Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson.

The Phillies have outscored the Nationals 17-5 in the fist two games of the series. On Saturday, Maikel Franco had four hits and Carlos Santana homered to back Aaron Nola in a 5-3 victory.

"That was just a tremendous all-around baseball game," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Franco. "It's so interesting how we've been looking for him to be not just a hitter but a defender and a baserunner and an all-around athlete."

Franco drove in a run and scored twice, including the go-ahead run when he scored just ahead of the tag on Jesmuel Valentin's sacrifice fly.

The Phillies, who have won six of seven, pounded out double-digit hits for the second day in a row in Washington.

"They have a lot of patient hitters," Fedde said of the Phillies. "I think that's what makes it tough. Guys aren't swinging at bunch of junk, so you have to attack them."

The Phillies have now won four straight series for the first time since May 2016 and are 2-0 in what will be a stretch of 10 games against the Nationals and the New York Yankees.

Anthony Rendon homered and Daniel Murphy had a two-run single for Washington, which has lost three of four while scoring nine runs.

"Look, I've got all the confidence in the world we're going to start hitting," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We'll start scoring some runs. Right now, the bullpen is a little beat up. We've got to get them going again."

Rendon is doing his part. In his las 15 games, he is batting .382 with seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs.

Hellickson (right groin strain) will make a rehab start Sunday for Class A Potomac and then is expected to rejoin the Nationals' rotation.

Hernandez said first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) is about a week from beginning a rehab assignment.