STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno defended his program's integrity in a 7-month-old letter released Wednesday, a day ahead of a report that could forever mar his legacy.
In the letter, written shortly before his death and confirmed as legitimate by his family, Paterno rejected the notion that his former assistant Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of boys amounted to a "football scandal" or tarnished the accomplishments of his players or Penn State's reputation as a whole.
The results of Penn State's internal investigation into the Sandusky scandal are set to be released Thursday in a report that should answer many of the troubling questions swirling around one of the worst scandals in sports history.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers formally welcomed Steve Nash, a week after reaching a deal to get the superstar point guard from the Phoenix Suns. After several days to get used to these developments, the 38-year-old Nash is eager to open another chapter in his remarkable career — a chapter that will extend to at least 2015 under his new three-year, $27 million contract.
The Miami Heat got two more shooters. The Orlando Magic, at least for now, are keeping their center.
A flurry of deals were completed Wednesday and another one was put on hold on the first day contracts could be signed in the NBA.
Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis inked their deals with the NBA champions, who will rely on their perimeter accuracy to create more space on the court for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The Spurs announced Tim Duncan was staying in San Antonio and the Knicks completed a sign-and-trade to bring Marcus Camby to New York. But there's no deal for the best big man of them all in the NBA right now.
The Magic can't find an agreement they like for All-Star center Dwight Howard, who has asked for a trade to Brooklyn. The Magic have tried to accommodate, only to find nothing from the Nets that fit their desires.
Instead, the Nets re-signed their current center, Brook Lopez, to an extension. He had been linked to the Howard trade talk for months but knows he will at last begin the season in Brooklyn, ineligible to be traded until Jan. 15.
Free agency opened July 1 and teams were able to begin signing players at 12:01 a.m. EDT Wednesday. Deron Williams got a quick start, signing his five-year, $98 million extension with the Nets while in Las Vegas for the U.S. Olympic team's training camp right after the window opened.
NEW YORK (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is launching a sports clothing line called V7 that will be sold exclusively at East Coast sporting goods shop Modell's.
The line is the latest image-restoration move for Vick, who spent 18 months in federal prison on dogfighting charges and was released in 2009. He has since been re-signed with Nike and married longtime fiancée Kijafa Frink earlier this summer.
The line includes technical athletic clothing such as T-shirts. Part of the proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia.
It was developed in a licensing partnership with celebrity clothing-line mogul Ruby Azrak and former ICM talent agent Brian Sher.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The National League's 8-0 victory in the All-Star game was the highest-rated prime-time show Tuesday night, according to overnight ratings.
The game drew a rating of 8.1 and a 14 share, up 3 percent over the 2011 game. It was the first year-to-year gain since the 2008 game; last year's game in Phoenix drew a record low.
St. Louis had the largest overnight rating (20.5) and share (33), up 15 percent from last year. Kansas City was next at 18.7 and 31, up a whopping 188 percent.
Ratings represent the percentage of all households with televisions tuned into a program, and shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics released left-hander Brian Fuentes.
The move announced Wednesday comes a little more than a week after the team designated Fuentes for assignment. The reliever finished 2-2 with five saves, three blown saves and a 6.84 ERA in 26 outings this season, including recording his 200th save May 2 at Boston to become the sixth left-hander in major league history to reach the mark.
The 36-year-old has 204 career saves with a 3.58 ERA in 644 career appearances over 12 seasons with five clubs. He went 0-2 with a save, two blown saves, a 19.50 ERA and .452 opponents' average over his final seven outings.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Suspended NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger said Wednesday that he tested positive for a stimulant and was collecting his medicines and supplements in an attempt to figure out what got him in trouble.
A statement issued by Allmendinger's business manager didn't identify the stimulant and said the driver doesn't know what caused him to fail the random test conducted June 29. He was suspended Saturday and NASCAR has not revealed the substance, either.
Allmendinger is the second Sprint Cup Series driver to be suspended under the NASCAR drug policy implemented in 2009. The 30-year-old Allmendinger has requested his "B'' urine sample be tested, and it's not clear when that will occur.
Allmendinger said Tuesday that he would never knowingly take a prohibited substance.
According to NASCAR's drug policy, a stimulant is defined as "amphetamine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Eve (MDEA), MDA, PMA, Phentermine, and other amphetamine derivatives and related compounds."
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday granted Lance Armstrong an extension of up to 30 days to contest drug charges while the seven-time Tour de France winner challenges the case in federal court.
The move erases the Saturday deadline for Armstrong to either send the case to arbitration or accept sanctions from USADA, which would likely include a lifetime ban from cycling and other sports along with stripping the Tour titles he won from 1999-2005.
Armstrong this week sued in U.S. District Court in Austin to block the case from moving forward, arguing that USADA's arbitration process violates his constitutional rights and that the agency doesn't have jurisdiction over the alleged doping violations.
Granted the extension, Armstrong attorney Tim Herman on Wednesday withdrew a request for a temporary restraining order while Judge Sam Sparks reviews the complaint and a request for an injunction.
USADA accused Armstrong in June of performance-enhancing drug use throughout much of his career. Armstrong insists he is innocent and says he never failed a drug test.
Johan Bruyneel, the manager on Armstrong's winning teams, who also has been charged, is not covered by the 30-day extension, even though USADA had consolidated their cases, USADA spokeswoman Annie Skinner said.
Bruyneel still faces a Saturday deadline to challenge the charges or be sanctioned, Skinner said. Bruyneel, who manages the Radioshack-Nissan-Trek team, skipped this year's Tour de France because of the investigation.
Three former medical staff members and consultants on Armstrong's winning teams received lifetime bans from sport from USADA on Tuesday.
BELLEGARDE-SUR-VALSERINE, France (AP) — France's Thomas Voeckler won the 10th stage of the Tour de France as the race entered the Alps on Wednesday.
Bradley Wiggins retained the overall lead.
The 120.9-mile ride from Macon-sur-Valserine marked a return to racing after a tumultuous rest day in which a Cofidis rider was suspended by his team following his arrest by police in a doping probe.
LONDON (AP) — The British government is putting 3,500 extra military personnel on standby to protect venues at the London Olympics, after a private contractor acknowledged Wednesday it may not be able to provide enough guards on time.
The contractor, G4S, which was supposed to provide the bulk of 13,200 private security guards across 100 venues, said in a statement it had encountered problems providing staff, but insisted it still hoped to meet its obligations.
A person brief on the government's planned response, who demanded anonymity because the move has yet to be announced publicly, said the troops are being prepared after G4S held talks with organizers and Britain's government.
Britain's defense ministry declined to provide immediate comment, but government officials said a public announcement was expected shortly.
Britain's mammoth Olympics security operation was already scheduled to include 7,500 troops, thousands of police, Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts.
PRAGUE (AP) — Jan Sterba, a member of the Czech Republic's sprint kayak K4 crew for the London Olympics, has been banned six months for doping by the International Canoe Federation.
Sterba tested positive for a banned stimulant during Olympic qualifying in Poznan, Poland, on May 17.
The Czech Canoe Federation announced the ban on Wednesday, but said Sterba is appealing the verdict and still hopes to compete at the London Games.
Sterba acknowledged he used a food supplement called "Shot Gun" that contains the substance beta-methylphenylethylamine.
Sprint kayak events in London are scheduled for Aug. 6-11.
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar's Olympic Committee says one of the Gulf nation's first female athletes to compete at the games will be the flag-bearer for the opening ceremony in London.
The committee said late Wednesday on Twitter that shooter Bahiya al-Hamad has been chosen to "raise the Qatar flag at London 2012."
Qatar has never previously sent female athletes to the Olympics.
Al-Hamad is one of three Qatari women set to compete in London. She received a wild-card invitation after winning three gold and two silver medals at the 2011 Arab Games.
Swimmer Nada Arkaji and sprinter Noor al-Malki had also been given wild cards.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey's longtime general manager, who has led the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles and five Eastern Conference crowns, was named Wednesday to this year's induction class of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Former players Mike Modano, who won the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars, and Eddie Olczyk, who won NHL title with the New York Rangers, are also a part of the class that will be enshrined in the fall.
Since Lamoriello took over in 1987, the Devils have secured nine division titles and won the Cup in 1995, 2000, and 2003. New Jersey lost in this year's finals to the Los Angeles Kings.
Modano, who lost the Cup finals to New Jersey in 2000 as a member of the Stars, played in 21 NHL seasons. He finished with 561 goals and 1,374 points, and holds the record for most postseason points (145) by an American. His Stars defeated Buffalo in the 1999 Cup finals.
Olczyk was the third overall pick of the 1984 draft and played for 16 years with the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, Jets, Rangers, Kings and Penguins. He finished with 342 goals and 794 points in 1,031 games. His Rangers defeated Vancouver in 1994 to win the Cup.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Quarterback Phillip Sims has been granted a waiver to play at Virginia this season.
The school says it was informed by the NCAA of the decision Wednesday.
Sims, who was among the highest rated quarterbacks in the country coming out of Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake in 2010. He had a 48-4 record and set state records with 10,725 yards passing and 119 touchdown passes.
He played in eight games as a redshirt freshman at Alabama in 2011, then transferred to Virginia in May.
Sims is expected to be able to compete for the starting job against incumbent Michael Rocco and sophomore dual-threat David Watford.
Sims has three years of eligibility remaining.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Al Wasl Vice President Mohammed bin Dakhan said Diego Maradona was fired because the Dubai team wanted to move in a new direction and find someone who would help it win championships again.
The former Argentina great was fired the previous day after one season in charge, having signed a two-year deal in May 2011. Al Wasl finished a disappointing eighth in the 12-team league and didn't win any trophies. The season ended with the club blowing a 3-1 first leg lead in the GCC Club Championship and losing to Bahrain's Al Muharraq on penalties.
The club's board of directors resigned days after the June defeat, leaving Maradona vulnerable. The new board insisted he would remain for another year but then changed its mind after "a comprehensive study of all the technical aspects" of his tenure.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Switzerland's supreme court has ordered the release of a document identifying which senior soccer officials took millions of dollars from FIFA's marketing partner in kickbacks from World Cup deals.
The Swiss Federal Tribunal says it's in the public interest for five media organizations to get copies of a regional court dossier revealing the officials' dealings with the ISL agency, which collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001.
The ruling announced on Wednesday overturns their legal fight to block publication. They are widely reported to be former FIFA President Joao Havelange and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira.
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Wimbledon champion Serena Williams beat reigning NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of the Bank of the West on Wednesday.
Gibbs double-faulted on her first serve and then seemed to regain her composure and played a number of strong points the rest of the way.
Gibbs will get another chance at a WTA Tour event, as she learned Wednesday she received a wild card into the main draw at San Diego next week.
Williams will meet sixth-seeded Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa in Friday's quarterfinal. Scheepers advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over wild card Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal.
In another match, fifth-seeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgian beat Heather Watson of Britain 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.
NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — Top seed and defending champion John Isner advanced to the quarterfinals at the Hall of Fame Tennis championships on Wednesday, beating France's Mahut 6-2, 7-6 (2).
The win by Isner featured the two players that played the longest match in tennis history.
Two years ago, the pair played 11 hours, 5 minutes at Wimbledon, with Isner finally getting a 70-68 fifth-set victory.
This one didn't have nearly the drama with the 6-foot-9 Isner using his overpowering serve to take charge. It ended when Mahut double faulted, ending the match in 1 hour, 18 minutes.
Second seed and Japan's Kei Nishikori also advanced to the quarterfinals, outlasting Olivier Rochus from Belgium 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-2 in a match that lasted nearly two hours.
In other second-round play, Dudi Sela of Israel beat American Sam Querrey, a 2009 Newport runner-up who is recovering from an elbow injury last year 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
Rajeev Ram, the 2009 Newport champion, beat fellow American Michael Russell 7-6 (8), 6-3; and Izak Van Der Merwe of South Africa beat American Jack Sock 6-4, 6-4.
Wild card and former No. 1 in the world Lleyton Hewitt of Australia beat American qualifier Tim Smyczek 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.
PALERMO, Sicily (AP) — Top-seeded Sara Errani needed little more than an hour to defeat 108th-ranked Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria 6-3, 6-2 Wednesday and reach the Italiacom Open quarterfinals.
Alexandra Cadantu of Romania upset seventh-seeded Alize Cornet of France, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 and will next face Errani. Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania rallied to beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 3-6, 6-1, 6-4; and Spanish qualifier Estrella Cabeza Candela eliminated Italian wild card Maria Elena Camerin 7-6 (3), 7-5.
Eighth-seeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 7-5, 7-6 (3) in a match that began on Tuesday.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winning trainer Doug O'Neill says he has dropped his appeal of a 45-day suspension stemming from an excess of carbon dioxide in one of his horses in 2010 and will serve the penalty starting Aug. 19.
O'Neill said Wednesday that the suspension was reduced to 40 days, and California Horse Racing Board spokesman Mike Marten confirmed it.
The punishment runs until Sept. 27, which means O'Neill will miss the closing weeks of the Del Mar meet which ends Sept. 5. During his suspension, O'Neill's barn and horses will be supervised by his assistant Leandro Mora.
O'Neill had originally said he would appeal the suspension because he questioned the test findings that showed excessive carbon dioxide.