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4:00 am
Tue February 7, 2012

Sports News The Super Bowl May Have Overshadowed

Originally published on Tue February 7, 2012 7:19 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is estimated that more than 111 million people watched Sunday's Super Bowl. That is the biggest TV audience ever for the championship game. And with all the hype before and even after the match-up between the Giants and the Patriots, other sports were drowned out. NPR's Tom Goldman is going to help correct that. He's here to bring us up to date on some other sports news.

Hi, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: And let's start with bicycle racing. Couple of news events here - one of them, that a former Tour de France winner is losing his title.

GOLDMAN: Yes, it is. That would be Spain's Alberto Contador. He was a three-time Tour de France winner. As of yesterday morning, he is now down to two. The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced yesterday that it was imposing a two-year ban on Contador, and stripping him of his 2010 Tour de France title.

It was during that race that he tested positive for a banned substance called clenbuterol. It can burn fat and build muscle. And Contador claimed he ate meat that was tainted by that clenbuterol. The court said no.

And he's the second Tour de France winner to lose the title because of a doping case; American Floyd Landis being the first. He lost the 2006 championship.

INSKEEP: So that's Contador. And then there's Lance Armstrong; a case against him has closed.

GOLDMAN: Yes, it has. Armstrong kind of won this, in the sense that that nearly two- year investigation closed. It was looking into alleged doping and potential fraud, and other alleged federal crimes by Armstrong and former cycling teammates. The decision to close the case really came out of the blue. And it was announced with a brief statement by the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, where a grand jury had been hearing witness testimony in the case. The Friday afternoon announcement - last Friday - came with no explanation why.

INSKEEP: And let's remember, of course, prosecutors will rarely, if ever, say this person is not guilty - he's totally innocent. They'll simply say, we have not found any evidence. So what has the reaction been to the closing of the case?

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Sources who know about the case say within the agencies involved in the investigation - the FBI, the FDA, the U.S. Postal Service - there is surprise, even shock and anger, about the U.S. attorney's decision. Those agencies reportedly only got about a half-hour notice that the decision was going to be announced.

And this was after there had been indications that prosecutors were preparing to indict Armstrong and others on federal crimes including mail fraud, drug distribution, wire fraud, witness tampering. Those indictments were said to be coming soon, maybe even next month.

And one source said there were absolutely no weaknesses in the case. On the other hand, I was told by a person with knowledge of the decision that the U.S. attorney didn't agree there was sufficient evidence of federal crimes. And the person also said while this announcement came quickly, the U.S. attorney - André Birotte Jr. - struggled with the decision. So Steve, with the case closed, lips and records sealed tightly, questions do linger about why this decision happened.

INSKEEP: One other thing to ask about, Tom Goldman: Sometime during the 36 hours of Super Bowl pregame over the weekend, there was a golf tournament - is this right?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, 24-year-old Kyle Stanley won his first PGA tour event, the Phoenix Open. That, in itself, is not dramatic but the story, with context, is a little bit amazing. The weekend before, he almost won his first tournament. He led by three shots as he teed off on the 18th and final hole. But he had a disastrous collapse. He lost in a playoff, cried afterwards, and you wondered if he would be one of those golfers marred for life.

But there he was on Super Bowl Sunday, winning a trophy and a million bucks. Ironically, he took advantage of the tournament leader, who imploded in the final round. And there was Stanley offering him words of comfort, the way Stanley had gotten them the week before.

INSKEEP: Triumph. Tom, thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You bet.

INSKEEP: An update on sports besides the Super Bowl, from NPR's Tom Goldman. You hear him on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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