Chinese women’s team under investigation

China’s gold medal gymnasts aren’t the only ones whose ages are getting a closer look.

The investigation into the eligibility of the Chinese women’s team in Beijing has been expanded to include members of the 2000 squad, which won the bronze medal in Sydney, The Associated Press learned Wednesday.

International gymnastics officials are examining whether Yang Yun and Dong Fangxiao, in particular, were old enough to compete.

No other Chinese teams are being investigated, said Andre Gueisbuhler, secretary general of the International Gymnastics Federation.

Yang’s age long has been an issue for debate.

In a June 2007 interview that aired on state broadcaster China Central Television, Yang said she was 14 at the Sydney Games.

Gymnastics rules require athletes to be 16 during an Olympic year to compete.

Yang’s interview, which has been widely reported, contradicts her official birthdate, which is listed as Dec. 2, 1984, and made her eligible for Sydney.

Dong’s birthdate is listed as Jan. 20, 1983, making her 17 at the time of the Sydney Games. Her blog, however, includes a reference to being born in 1985.


Armstrong to ride for Astana team in 2009

Lance Armstrong won his first seven Tour de France titles with Johan Bruyneel as his team director. No way would he try for No. 8 without him.

Armstrong said he will ride for Bruyneel’s Astana team as he seeks to win the 2009 Tour and will compete in the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia, in January.

Kazakh Cycling Federation deputy chief Nikolai Proskurin told The Associated Press that Armstrong agreed to ride for the Kazakhstan-based team for free the first year and has signed up to take part in five races, including the Tour de France. Armstrong, 37, said he has committed only for next year, but he wouldn’t rule out competing beyond 2009.

Armstrong is also adding a new member to his team: anti-doping expert Don Catlin, who will run a program to regularly test Armstrong.

Catlin oversaw testing for anabolic agents at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and ran the country’s first anti-doping lab at UCLA for 25 years. He now runs Anti-Doping Research, a nonprofit organization he founded to research performance-enhancing drugs, uncover new drugs being used illegally and develop tests to detect them.


De La Hoya-Pacquiao fight sells out quickly

Tickets for Oscar De La Hoya’s fight with Manny Pacquiao sold out a few hours after going on sale, guaranteeing the second-largest gate revenue in boxing history.

The total gate revenue for the Dec. 6 fight at the MGM Grand Garden, which seats about 16,000 for boxing, will be nearly $17 million, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said.

Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 knockouts) will move up from lightweight to welterweight to meet De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs), the bout’s co-promoter.

The fight already has generated more gate revenue than any bout except De La Hoya’s match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the same arena on May 5, 2007, which sold more than $18.4 million in tickets.

Also: Santa Anita opened racing at its Oak Tree meeting in Arcadia, Calif., on a new synthetic surface that is being closely scrutinized leading to next month’s Breeders’ Cup.

Having a successful month of racing going into the sport’s richest two days could help attract reigning Horse of the Year Curlin to challenge Big Brown in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Owner Jess Jackson said this week he is unsure about trying Curlin on a synthetic surface for the first time, and that the track’s condition would play into his decision.

The opening day feature, the $100,000 Morvich Handicap, didn’t reveal anything about the new surface because it was run on the turf.

But it did give the winner, 22-1 long shot California Flag, an automatic berth in the BC Turf Sprint, one of 14 Breeders’ Cup races to be run Oct. 24 and 25 at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, California Flag covered 6 furlongs in 1:11.10, bettering the track record of 1:11.13 by Lennyfrommalibu on Jan. 22, 2004.

The Charlotte Bobcats moved to bolster their frontcourt, signing Houston Rockets restricted free-agent forward Carl Landry to a three-year, $9 million offer sheet.

The Rockets have a week to decide whether to match the offer or lose Landry.

The 6-foot-9-inch Landry averaged 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 42 games for the Rockets as a rookie last season.

Denver Nuggets guard Chucky Atkins will miss six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

Defenseman Sergei Gonchar will be kept out of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup at least through the regular-season opener in two weeks because of a dislocated left shoulder.

Gonchar was injured in the first period of the Penguins’ preseason opener Saturday.

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