Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lance Armstrong's comeback forces Tour Down Under to beef up security

Lance Armstrong's comeback forces Tour Down Under to beef up security
Big draw: Lance Armstrong's Tour Down Under comeback has forced organisers to rethink their security plans Photo: AP

Seven-time Tour de France winner, Armstrong is expected to arrive in Australia over the weekend from Hawaii ahead of the Jan 18 start to the tour.

Events South Australia general manager Hitaf Rasheed would not comment about specific security arrangements but said: "What a great situation to have with Lance Armstrong coming to Australia.

"And as an organisation we will put all the (security) measures in place to make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible."

Speculation in Australia suggests the 37-year old American and his entourage will have the services of a dedicated police motorcyclist, an unmarked car and two patrol vehicles for his training rides.

An Australian newspaper said Armstrong was also expected to have a personal security guard accompany him as he leaves his city hotel each morning for the walk to the nearby tour village from where he will ride out on training runs or drive to the start line.

Armstrong confidante and official photographer Elizabeth Kreutz was quoted as saying that Armstrong was fully focused on riding success and spreading his cancer awareness message.

Kreutz said Armstrong and his entourage expected the frenzy surrounding the athlete in Adelaide to be around "10 times" the magnitude of his Tour de France appearances because it was his comeback ride.

"It is going to be crazy, it is always crazy with the fans and the media but with this being his comeback race and because everyone is so enthusiastic about Australia we think it will be great," she said.

Kreutz said Armstrong's personal team would fly into Adelaide separate from his Team Astana cycling team, which will converge from different parts of the world.

She said the size of the entourage reflected the fact Armstrong had dedicated the Tour Down Under not only to his comeback but his anti-cancer fight through the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which was formed in 1997, one year after Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Armstrong successfully battled the cancer in 1996, retired from riding in 2005, but has dedicated his comeback to his "Livestrong" cancer prevention campaign.

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Fatal Avalanches Rattle Ski Country in the West

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

A snowboarder on Whistler Mountain. A skier and a snowboarder died last week outside Whistler Blackcomb resort's boundaries.


JACKSON, Wyo. — Whistler Blackcomb resort in British Columbia has stationed guards at the top of some areas to prevent skiers and snowboarders from entering hazardous terrain. Grouse Mountain resort, in North Vancouver, has suggested that government action may be needed to deter skiers and snowboarders from using off-limit areas. And Jackson Hole in Wyoming has already burned through nearly half of this year’s budget for avalanche hazard reduction work, one month into the season.

Resorts throughout the western United States and Canada are struggling with avalanche hazards as weather patterns have created uncommonly widespread conditions of instability, wreaking havoc on mountains crowded with skiers of all levels at the start of ski season. Last week, avalanches at Whistler Blackcomb killed a snowboarder and a skier on terrain outside the resort’s boundaries. On Wednesday morning, a controlled slide ran past Jackson Hole’s $10 million Bridger Restaurant — already damaged by a recent avalanche — while the mountain was closed to the public.

“It’s a war zone,” said Lanny Johnson, a wilderness medical advisor and former patroller at Lake Tahoe’s Alpine Meadows ski resort. He added that this avalanche cycle had “the best in the field scratching their heads.”

Since Dec. 14, avalanches have caused 13 deaths in the United States and 23 total in North America — one in a roof slide and the others in skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and ice-climbing incidents, according to Dale Atkins, vice president for the avalanche rescue commission at the International Commission for Alpine Rescue.

Perhaps most troubling to resorts and safety officials is that three people died in-bounds — areas at resorts that are perceived as safe terrain. Avalanches in in-bounds areas have led to deaths of skiers at Squaw Valley in California, at Snowbird in Utah and at Jackson Hole. It is the most in-bound deaths in one season since three skiers were killed in a single avalanche at Alpine Meadows in 1976.

“One in-bound fatal avalanche in a season is unusual; three separate fatal incidents in one season is really rare,” said Bob Comey, director of the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center. “It’s been a really big problem. We’re doing what we normally do. Our techniques work really well, but they’re not ever 100 percent guaranteed.”

Early snow in the fall coupled with rain left a weak, ice-covered base on many mountains. Then heavy storms throughout the West dumped several feet of snow, which has been perilously resting on the vulnerable base.

“It is sort of like dominos covered by a board,” Mr. Atkins said. “If dominos are widely spaced and a few fall over, nothing happens; however, if enough dominos are close to each other and one falls over knocking down others, enough may fall causing the board to collapse.”

Avalanche forecasters anticipate that hazardous conditions could persist well into the season throughout the backcountry in the Rockies, the Pacific Northwest and the Tetons. The Teton County Sheriff’s Department reminded the public last week — for the first time in its 17-year history — that search and rescue may be significantly delayed or unable to respond to backcountry incidents because of heightened avalanche hazards.

“We’re off to a scary start; this December saw the most recorded avalanche fatalities for any December since the mining days,” Mr. Atkins said, adding that, historically, January, February and March were the worst months for avalanches.

The conditions are so alarming that even many expert skiers who normally attack backcountry terrain with ease are staying within the controlled areas of resorts. Sales of transceivers, used to locate people buried in an avalanche, soared at Jackson Hole’s ski shop after a recent in-bounds slide, according to J. D. Disney, a sales representative there. The beacons are typically carried by backcountry skiers, but Mr. Disney said the devices were purchased by many recreational skiers at the resort — including a woman who bought five for her family.

Grouse Mountain, which barred three skiers and one snowboarder indefinitely for using an off-limits, avalanche-prone area on its privately owned resort last week, said the provincial and federal governments may need to pass legislation in the interest of public safety.

Locals and visitors at Jackson Hole have been advised to stay out of the backcountry while the resort tries to keep the upper mountain open and safe. The resort budgeted $81,500 this season for avalanche hazard reduction tools that allow patrollers to trigger slides in a safe method, and Tim Mason, the vice president for operations, said patrollers may have already spent nearly half the year’s budget in an attempt to keep as much of the upper mountain open as possible over the holidays.

This all comes at a time when global economic issues are already putting a strain on ski resorts.

“Resorts definitely rely on big weekends,” Mr. Mason said. “Winter is our time of year. We count on those weekends, especially.”

Mr. Comey said that another storm cycle was expected to hit the Tetons soon and that the amount of snowfall would determine whether avalanche conditions were exacerbated in the backcountry. The added weight of a heavy snowfall could trigger more slides. If it stops snowing, the snowpack may have a chance to stabilize.

“What we patrollers need more than anything else is a break,” he said.

Chris McCollister, a 39-year-old ski patroller at Jackson Hole, can empathize. On Dec. 27, snow on an in-bounds slope shattered like a pane of glass under the weight of a local skier, David Nodine, and his companion, burying Mr. Nodine beneath roughly seven feet of snow. The patrol team had conducted avalanche hazard reduction work on the slope that morning, and it had already been skied. Squaw Valley and Snowbird had also conducted reduction work on their slopes before their in-bound fatalities occurred.

Two patrollers witnessed the slide and located Mr. Nodine’s beacon within two minutes. They uncovered his head within another six. Patrollers quickly recovered him from a deep, concretelike tomb, but it was too late; he had suffocated.

Two days later, Mr. McCollister was on duty when he heard an emergency call over his radio: “The building’s been hit,” and, “there’s workers buried.” He immediately took the gondola to the resort’s Bridger Restaurant, at 9,095 feet.

“I heard someone say multiple workers were down and that one person was definitely not recoverable,” Mr. McCollister said.

A massive deep slab avalanche had rushed down the Headwall slope toward the resort’s midmountain restaurant, partially pinning four patrollers on the outside patio, trapping a fifth and his search dog inside a nearby ski patrol room and knocking two more patrollers down the mountain’s face.

Seven of Mr. McCollister’s colleagues were hit by the slide. Everyone survived.

“It’s been my most stressful year so far,” said Mr. McCollister, who has been a patroller for eight years.

“I don’t have trouble sleeping. I’m so exhausted. My only problem is waking up.”

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Beckham to start on Milan bench

David Beckham
Beckham has impressed coach Ancelotti since arriving at AC Milan

On-loan AC Milan midfielder David Beckham will start as a substitute for his first Serie A game at AS Roma on Sunday, coach Carlo Ancelotti has said.

The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder, who is spending two months at Milan, has not played a competitive game since the end of the MLS season in October.

"David is ready even if he has been out for two months, but it is therefore tough to start him," said Ancelotti.

Beckham played 45 minutes for Milan in Tuesday's friendly draw with Hamburg.

The England international's stint with the Italian club ends in March, when the Major League Soccer season resumes, but it has been suggested that he may be tempted to extend his stay at Milan if his spell goes well.

However, Ancelotti played down those rumours, saying: "He is ready to give an important contribution and we at Milan are happy he will be with us, if only for two months.

"If then he wants to stay with us, it would be great but the contract he has with Milan is clear and I believe he will respect it."

Still, Ancelotti admits he has been delighted with Beckham, adding that he would offer a a glowing report on the 33-year-old if England coach Fabio Capello asked for one.

"If he wants a report I would only have positive things to say (about Beckham) because I have trained many players but it is not easy to find one with the professionalism Beckham is showing," said Ancelotti.

England face Spain in a friendly on 11 February, while third-placed Milan are returning to Serie A action after a three-week mid-season break on Sunday.

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Stolen Zetterberg Classic stick may be reunited with young fan

There's an interesting second chapter being written to that story we posted on Wednesday, in which 14-year-old hockey fan Kalan Plew was given a stick by Detroit Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg after the Winter Classic before getting snookered out of it by "a man dressed like a security guard" at Wrigley Field.

The bad news is that the human garbage that stole the kid's stick appears to have actually profited off of it. But there is good news, according to a letter forwarded to Puck Daddy and written by a guy who allegedly purchased the stick -- in a Wrigley Field bathroom, no less.

That good news being that the young fan might actually get his game-used Classic stick after all.

Puck Daddy reader Julie has a neighbor who unknowingly made himself a part of this Winter Classic stick-stealing story, which was first written about in the Chicago Tribune's trouble-shooting column this week. She forwarded us a letter to the editor her friend sent to the Chicago Tribune, which explains his role in this tale.

John Hahn of the Red Wings confirmed that the team was forwarded the letter from the paper, and are aware of the story.

(We chatted with Julie this afternoon, and she said that the writer wanted to keep his name and residence anonymous for now; the Wings said the author is from North Carolina).

The letter, warts and all, to John Yates at the Tribune:

I have a Winter Classic story that just might be very interesting to you and your readers.

I live in ******** . And I had the good fortune to go to Wrigley Field and see the Hawks. The plane tickets, hotel room and game tickets cost a fortune, but I grew up just outside Chicago and my wife just outside Detroit . I like all the major sports. My wife, Lori, loves one, hockey and her team is the Detroit Red Wings. It has been a tough pill for me to swallow for eighteen years. I had my [Chicago Blackhawks] jersey on. She had her Wings jersey on. We had the greatest day, the people were all so happy and festive the game was great. I said it, that day was worth it all. Then it happened.

I wanted to stop at the bathroom before we got back on the red line. While I was in the bathroom, I started talking to a security guard, with a blue jacket, and a white hat holding a hockey stick. I said, hey I'll buy that stick from you. (He didn't look much like a hockey fan). He said not this stick, its Henrick Zetterberg's (sic.); I'm selling it on eBay. I said, you won't sell that on eBay. It will end up in your apartment or house collecting dust. That's my wife's favorite player I'll double my offer. And The Stick was Mine.

I rushed out of the mens room, just like I had scored the Hawks first goal with that stick high over my head. My wife was wide eyed as I presented her with the souvenir of all souvenirs. We showed it to everybody inside and outside the stadium. The other fans and I flexed it and shot every piece of liter we could find (carefully of coarse, that was Henrick's game stick) I carried that stick on the train, down Michigan Ave , it's even been in the John Hancock building. I think everybody I know has heard about that stick and half of ***** has seen it. Then my friend from Detroit called tonight and sent me to your Tribune link. This must be that boys souvenir not mine.

I am so proud of Chicago! I wear some sort of Cubs, Bears, or Hawks clothing every single weekend. I love the people and fans of Chicago and I think some of my friends here are even jealous they aren't from there.

The bottom line, however is that Henrick gave that stick to Kalan not me. Maybe he would like to trade his new stick for an Official Game Used Winter Classic Stick. But if not, that's OK!

Jon, would you help me get this stick back to its rightful owner. Hey Kalan, there are bad people, but the United States is filled with far more good ones. Enjoy your stick buddy and keep loving hockey.

Julie offered a quick update on what's happened after her friend's admission. First, she said the Chicago Tribune is expected to follow up with him about this story, so one can assume we'll know his identity when that story is published.

She also thought the Red Wings were going to put the young fan in touch with the author, but the Wings told us it'll be the paper that does it, if it's anyone. The Wings, remember, already sent Kalan Plew a replacement stick from Zetterberg.

Sounds like what was a really rotten tale from the Winter Classic is going to have a very unexpected happy ending.

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Video: Jarkko Ruutu bites Sabres' Peters, doesn't get penalized

Less than a day after Sweden's Joakim Andersson was accused of biting a Canadian player, Ottawa Senators pest Jarkko Ruutu appears to have acquired a taste for Andrew Peters of the Buffalo Sabres in their game this evening:

You can see Peters rip his glove out of Ruutu's mouth, before either violently shaking his right hand because of the intense pain or overselling the thing like Ric Flair going into the turnbuckles. The glorious part of this incident is that Peters ended up with the only penalty: two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct at 13:13 of the first.

Buffalo Sports Report is already making with the funny.

There will no doubt be much more said about this after the game and, one assumes, in the halls of NHL HQ in the morning. Wonder if fellow Sabre Adam Mair will have anything to say to the Senators locker room?

Thanks to Puck Daddy readers Chris and The Tick for sinking their teeth into this one.

UPDATE 11:54 p.m. EST: Via the National Post, here's Peters on the alleged bite:

"It's a pretty stupid thing to do, regardless of who you are, it's just not part of the game of hockey," said Peters, whose thumb was cut. "I've never had anyone bite me before, I didn't know that happened. The refs didn't see it. That's unfortunate. I saw a replay of it and it's pretty evident that he did bite me and I have a lot of confidence that the league will take the proper procedures and go about it the right way. I'm not going to say anything that's going to get me in any trouble. Like I said, I'm going to let the league deal with it."

And Jarkko's take on the incident? Glad you asked:

"He had his finger in my mouth, but I didn't bite him."

What's that, the hockey goon version of "I didn't inhale?"

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Golfers' hearing at risk from 'sonic boom' created by new clubs, doctors claim

By Simon Johnson

Andrew Coltart - Golfers' hearing at risk from 'sonic boom' created by new clubs, doctors claim
Scottish golfer Andrew Coltart said the newer drivers did sound different, but questioned whether the noise could endanger hearing Photo: GETTY IMAGES

A report in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal claims that some players are at risk if they use a new generation of thin-faced titanium drivers that help propel the ball further.

The booming noise the metal club head makes when it strikes the ball was found by ear specialists to have reduced the hearing of a 55-year-old golfer.

Subsequent tests of six titanium clubs against six thicker-faced stainless steel models found that the former all produced greater sound levels.

Dr Malcolm Buchanan, an ear, nose and throat specialist and one of the report's authors, said: "Our results show that thin-faced titanium drivers may produce sufficient sound to induce temporary or even permanent cochlear damage in susceptible individuals.

"Wearing earplugs is a possibility, although it may prove too radical for some."

The doctors, based at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, conducted the tests after the 55-year-old attended their clinic with tinnitus and reduced hearing in his right ear.

He told them his titanium club sounded "like a gun going off" when it hit the ball and they could find no other explanation for his hearing loss.

The new breed of clubs was designed with a thinner metal face to produce a "trampoline" effect, thereby allowing the player to hit the ball longer distances.

"Caution should be exercised by golfers who play regularly with thin-faced titanium drivers to avoid damage to their hearing," the doctors' report concluded.

Golfing experts agreed the new clubs were louder, but doubted they could cause hearing loss.

Andrew Coltart, a European Tour player, said: "There is definitely a difference in sound levels between the two types of clubs but I would be amazed if they put your hearing in jeopardy."

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Burton European Open Snowboard Championships: Board meeting

Shaun White snowboarding
Ice work: Shaun White, the 2006 Olympic Halfpipe gold medallist, will be competing in this year's Burton European Open Snowboard Championships in Switzerland

The Burton European Open Snowboard Championships in Laax, Switzerland, this month kicks off the 2009 winter sports calendar with a flurry and a bang. Now in its tenth year, the event attracts more than 400 snowboarders, including the very best in the world. The biggest snowfalls in over a decade have just been recorded in the Alps and conditions are perfect for riders and spectators alike.

They are drawn by the two disciplines which make up this challenging event, Slopestyle and Halfpipe. In the former, competitors must board down a hair-raising course featuring rails, ramps and kickers. As if that was not enough, they must then complete a variety of tricks that are judged by a panel of experts on technical complexity and quality of execution.

The Halfpipe is subject to the same rigorous judging system but this run is down a man-made semicircular scoop of snow with high sides. One by one, riders drop into the pipe, zip up the far side and emerge in the clear mountain air to execute a mind-boggling series of twists and turns before plummeting back down to earth. It's adrenalin fuelled, gravity defying stuff.

Jenny Jones, 28, is the UK's most accomplished female snowboarder. In 2006 she ranked second in the world and was runner up in last year's championship Slopestyle competition. This year she's hoping to grab the top spot.

"The European Open is a cracking event. Because of the quality of riders there you've got to be completely on top of your game," she says. "I've been training really hard both on and off my board."

That's just as well because Slopestyle, with its mixture of speed and airborne trickery, requires not only technical expertise but top physical fitness. Consequently, Jones has undertaken a less than conventional fitness regime for the last two months, training with Bath Rugby Club. She hasn't actually been pushing a scrimmage machine around with a pack of sweaty men, but she has been working closely with their conditioning trainer.

"It was absolutely brilliant. I was spending five days a week concentrating on my core strength and balance. I feel it's made a huge difference because the forces that rattle through your body when you land a big jump are massive. You've got to be able to absorb that energy with grace and style."

The championships feature both junior and senior events, with plenty of parties and live concerts providing light entertainment along the way, but Jones is totally focused on the women's Slopestyle finals on January 15 and the Halfpipe the following day.

Someone else who is zeroing in on the finals is 2008 men's Slopestyle winner and 2006 Olympic Halfpipe gold medallist Shaun White, who will again be competing at this year's event. At 21 years of age, this Californian youngster is one of the best-known riders in the world. He's the star of his own best-selling video game, owns a Lamborghini and lives an international jet-set lifestyle. In short, he epitomises the huge leap that snowboarding has made from cult pastime to international sport over the last twenty years.

"I love the championship because it's a really fun event and it's great catching up with my European friends," he says. "What's more, the riding is always really exciting and last year's Slopestyle course was more progressive and better to ride."

So what advice does White have to give to anybody wanting to take up snowboarding?

"Just stick with it. Your first couple of days are going to be a learning process but once you get over that first hurdle the rest is easy."

Easy to say when you are a sportsman once dubbed the 'Coolest Kid in America' by Rolling Stone magazine. But that shouldn't stop the rest of us having a go, or at least just having a look.

• The Burton European Open Snowboarding Championships run from January 9-16 in Laax in Switzerland. For more information visit Live action from the event will be broadcast on and on the Eurosport TV Channel.

Top 10 scariest snowboarding routes in the world

1 Mount Everest. Successfully descended by Frenchman Marco Siffredi in 2001. He attempted it again in 2002 and was never seen again.

2 The Spearhead Traverse, Canadian Rockies. Backcountry expedition that takes in 14 glaciers over three days.

3 The Couloir Bellevarde, Val D'Isere. Fantastic off piste fun favoured by Olympian Lesley Mckenna.

4 Mount Cook, New Zealand. In 2008 British snowboarder Johno Verity nearly perished in a huge avalanche whilst boarding this region. Not only did he live to tell the tale but he captured it on film as well.

5 The Wall, Avoriaz, France. A technically challenging course that features an array of humps, bumps and dips recommended by Jenny Jones.

6 Peak 7601, Alaska. Unspeakably steep pinnacle of snow and rock first negotiated by snowboard legend Terje Haakonsen in 2005.

7 The Valle Blanche, France. Europe's longest uninterrupted off-piste run littered with crevasses and hidden snow bridges.

8 Sache Valley to Les Brevieres in Tigne, France. Precipitous cliffs and avalanche risk make this a truly testing run.

9 The Haute Route. Classic seven day tour between Chamonix and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps.

10 North Face of the Aiguille Midi in France. Treacherously steep run in the shadow of Mont Blanc.

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Police: Tests show Barkley legally drunk

PHOENIX -- Charles Barkley is taking a leave of absence from the broadcast booth.

[+] EnlargeCharles Barkley
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesFormer NBA great Charles Barkley's blood-alcohol level tested at .149.

The announcement by Turner Sports came Friday, hours after police said the 45-year-old former NBA star was legally drunk when police arrested him Dec. 31 on suspicion of drunken driving in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Test results show Barkley had a blood-alcohol level at .149, nearly twice the legal limit of .08 in Arizona.

While waiting for results of the blood test, TNT considered suspending Barkley if the results showed his blood-alcohol content was over the legal limit, a source told

Barkley will be off the air for a minimum of several weeks and no return date has been set, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it.

"I have spoken with Charles Barkley regarding the incident. .. and I understand he has hired a lawyer to represent him regarding this matter," said David Levy, president of TNT Sports, in a statement. "When I spoke with Charles, he was apologetic for the events that transpired and it was obvious he understands the significance of the situation. This is an important time for Charles as he deals with the legal and personal issues that confront him. Charles is a valued part of the Turner Sports organization and we are concerned for his well-being."

A Gilbert officer working a regional DUI task force stopped Barkley shortly after he left a popular nightclub at about 1:30 a.m. He failed field sobriety tests but was cooperative.

Barkley was booked and released at a field command post and later issued a statement saying he was disappointed he put himself in that situation.

Barkley's attorney wasn't immediately available for comment Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Report: Amphetamines still in play in MLB


Bringing drug testing to baseball has been a slow process, but the results are plenty speedy.

Major League Baseball's anti-doping administrator on Friday released a summary of results from 3,486 urine samples collected last season, and the report by Dr. Bryan Smith shows amphetamine use continues in the sport despite a 2006 ban.

There were eight positive tests for Adderall, a stimulant composed of amphetamine salts that is said to enhance concentration and is commonly prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder.

Meanwhile, 106 players filed paperwork with the league claiming to have ADD, excusing themselves from punishment if a laboratory encountered signs of Adderall in their samples.

That number is a slight increase from the previous season, when 103 players filed such paperwork, known as a therapeutic use exemption, or TUE (the number had surged from 28 in 2006, the year the amphetamine ban went into effect).

Anti-doping expert Dr. Gary Wadler said he thinks baseball needs to re-examine its TUE protocol in light of the high number of TUEs.

"It seems to me as an internist, that's a disproportionate number of adults with ADD requiring stimulants — roughly 10% of the league. I've seen a lot of adults (as patients) and I can count on one hand the number of people I've seen with ADD," said Wadler, who is chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List and Methods Committee. "Since so many (players) received TUEs, it's crying out for close examination of the TUE process for baseball and how it stacks up against the international standard. I don't know that there's an epidemic of ADD in baseball."

Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, said that because Major League players were younger, they "probably as a group have better access to medical care" than the general population.

"Comparing us to the general population doesn't make a lot of sense," Manfred said. "Fifty years ago, they didn't diagnose people with ADD."

Manfred added that Dr. Smith, whose official title is the Independent Program Administrator of baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, approved the TUEs only after reviewing medical records and deciding the exemptions were medically necessary.

The use of amphetamines in baseball has been common for decades, and was made notorious in Jim Bouton's 1970 tell-all "Ball Four," in which Bouton described how players had easy access to green-colored speed pills called "greenies."

There were five positives for clobenzorex, the proper name for greenies, in this most recent sampling. Only five samples were positive for muscle-building drugs, including two positives for androstenedione and one each for the steroids nandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone.

Other TUEs were issued for hypertension (3), hypogonadism (3), post-concussion syndrome (1) and metabolic myopathy (1).

During the congressional hearing on the Mitchell Report and baseball last Jan. 15 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) railed against Commissioner Bud Selig and union chief Don Fehr as to why the number of TUEs had skyrocketed from 28 in 2006 to 103 in 2007.

"When you see the number 28 one year go all the way to 103, it makes you think that we have a loophole here with performance-enhancing drugs," Tierney said then.

The publication of the drug-testing aggregate results was a result of a reform that Senator George Mitchell suggested in the 409-page report on drug use in baseball he delivered in December of 2007.

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California woman finds baseball card from 1869

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Somewhere amid her collection of worn jukeboxes and slot machines, a 72-year-old California woman recently discovered an antique worth saving: a rare baseball card of the first professional team in the United States.

And if it weren't for the keen intervention of a friend, she would have sold the 1869 card of the Cincinnati Red Stockings on eBay for just $10.

"I didn't even know baseball existed that far back," said Bernice Gallego, who owns an antique shop in Fresno, a mid-sized city in the state's farming region. "I don't think that I've ever been to a baseball game."

She put a $10 price tag on it, deciding against $15 because it would have cost her an extra 20 cents. She pulled it from auction after realizing it could be worth much more when someone asked her to end the auction immediately.

The front of the card features a sepia-toned, gelatin-silver photographic print of the entire team. The reverse, a red-and-white advertisement for Peck & Snyder, a New York sports equipment manufacturer.

Experts at the Los Angeles-based PSA, the leading sports card grading and authenticating company, say the card is authentic and the team photo is relatively unscathed.

Sports card collectors prize any card featuring the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who laid the foundation for today's Major League Baseball.

It could fetch up to low six figures at auction, according to collectors interviewed by The Fresno Bee.

"They were kind of an All-Star team before that concept really existed," said Tim Wiles, who directs research at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. "They went around and challenged all comers. They barnstormed around the country and were undefeated."

Gallego and her husband still can't say for certain how they got the card, but believe it was in the contents of a storage space they bought a few years ago.

"We really don't know where we got it," Gallego said. "It's a little card I found in a bunch of stuff."

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