Dutrow suspended 90 daysfor 2 drug-related violations
Trainer Rick Dutrow was suspended 90 days Wednesday by New York racing stewards for two infractions. He was banned 60 days because he had a horse that tested positive for a pain killer and 30 days for having hypodermic needles in his Aqueduct barn. Dutrow has been sanctioned a number of times for medication violations. He trained 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown and admitted to using steroids on the horse, though they were legal at the time. He appealed both penalties Wednesday and later had a winner in Aqueduct's $44,000 feature for 3-year-olds. Rift beat Dr Disco by 2¾ lengths for his second win in five starts.
Armstrong retiring — for real this time
Almost a month after finishing 65th in his last competitive race in Australia, and nearly six years removed from the last of seven straight Tour de France titles, Lance Armstrong, 39, is leaving professional racing behind for good. His retirement ends a comeback effort that failed to produce an eighth title or diminish talk that performance-enhancing drugs helped his career.
"I can't say I have any regrets. It's been an excellent ride. I really thought I was going to win another tour," Armstrong said about his comeback attempt in 2009, four years after his first retirement. "Then I lined up like everybody else and wound up third."
Earnhardt wrecks, must start from last
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked his pole-winning car in practice Wednesday and will have to start at the back of the pack for the Daytona 500. Earnhardt was pushing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson in practice when Johnson had to slow down for slower-moving traffic in front of him. Earnhardt plowed into Johnson's back bumper and turned him sideways.
A second pack of cars led by Martin Truex Jr. closed quickly on Earnhardt's bumper, causing the No. 88 Chevrolet to spin across the track and into the inside wall. Johnson said he had to slow down suddenly when a pack of three cars ahead of them on the track — driven by Robby Gordon, Michael Waltrip and David Gilliland — drifted from the bottom of the track toward the top.
■ Hendrick Motorsports has signed 15-year-old Chase Elliott to a driver development deal. Elliott is the son of 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott. He will receive support as he drives Chevrolets for Bill Elliott Racing until he turns 18 and is eligible to run in NASCAR national series events. The teenager won 13 late-model races last year and had 37 top-10 finishes in 40 starts.
Wittels to play despite rape charge
Florida International shortstop Garrett Wittels will be in the Panthers' lineup when their season begins on Friday night, despite a rape charge in the Bahamas late last year. Wittels received clearance from university officials on Wednesday. FIU has a three-game weekend series with Southeastern Louisiana, and Wittels will resume his pursuit of Robin Ventura's all-time NCAA Division I hit-streak record. Wittels got a hit in all 56 games in which he played last season. Ventura's record is a 58-game streak set in 1987 for Oklahoma State. Wittels, 20, and two friends were accused in December of having sex with a 17-year-old girl against her will in the Bahamas. Officials there do not plan to begin a preliminary evidentiary inquiry until April.
"Every single night I put my head on my pillow, I know what went on that night, and I have no trouble sleeping at all," Wittels told the Washington Post.
Pujols, Cardinals don't reach deal
The deadline Albert Pujols set for the Cardinals to reach a new contract agreement passed Wednesday with no deal, making it likely the three-time MVP will become a free agent after the World Series. The Cardinals said they will respect Pujols' wishes and not request more talks during the season. The Cardinals would not reveal their offer. Pujols will make $16 million this season in his contract's final year, with $4 million of the money deferred with no interest.
■ Infielder Orlando Cabrera passed his physical and signed a one-year contract with the Indians Wednesday. Financial terms on the deal were not immediately available. Although primarily a shortstop, Cabrera, 36, will compete for the Indians' starting job at second base. He hit .263 with four homers and 42 RBI last season with the Reds and has made the post-season in six of the past seven years.
■ The Brewers and Rickie Weeks agreed to a $38.5 million, four-year contract Wednesday that contains a 2015 option that could increase the total value to $50 million. Weeks, the No. 2 overall draft pick in the 2003 amateur draft, was a day from an arbitration hearing after saying last month he would end long-term contract talks with the team when he reported to spring training.
Bobcats officially hire Silas as coach
The Bobcats removed the interim tag from Coach Paul Silas on Wednesday, rewarding him with a one-year extension after he helped get Charlotte into playoff contention following a miserable start under Larry Brown. Owner Michael Jordan's decision comes less than two months after he fired Brown following Charlotte's 9-19 start that left a fractured team. Silas, 67, has led the Bobcats to a 15-13 mark to get within 1½ games of the Pacers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Cavs hand Lakers third straight loss
The Lakers dropped their third straight game Wednesday, a stunning 104-99 loss to the Cavaliers, who avenged a 55-point embarrassment against Los Angeles last month. Ramon Sessions came off the bench and scored a season-high 32 points for the Cavs, who were beaten 112-57 by the Lakers on Jan. 11.
■ Dwight Howard had 32 points and 10 rebounds for his 45th double-double of the season, and the host Magic beat the Wizards 101-76 Wednesday night. The Wizards have lost six of their last seven games and haven't won two straight since mid-January. John Wall scored 27 points for Washington.
■ Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay will miss at least four weeks with a left-shoulder injury.
■ The Timberwolves are shutting down point guard Jonny Flynn for the next week, hoping it will help his recovery from major hip surgery. Flynn was inactive against the Clippers Wednesday night.
FSU's Fisher signs new 5-year deal
Florida State's Jimbo Fisher received a $4.75 million raise Wednesday following his first season as the Seminoles football coach. Fisher signed a 5-year, $13.75 million contract that runs until Jan. 4, 2016. He receives an annual pay raise of $950,000, money to be paid to him for his radio and television shows and public appearances.
■ Butler hired former Indiana coach Bill Lynch as associate athletic director for development Wednesday. Lynch played and coached at Butler and has been inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. Lynch was fired by IU in November after a third straight losing season.
■ Arizona Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt completed the restructuring of his staff Wednesday by promoting Mike Miller to offensive coordinator.
■ SI.com is reporting that the Raiders agreed with defensive tackle Richard Seymour Wednesday on a two-year, $30 million contract that includes $22.5 million in guaranteed money.
The last word
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman wouldn't officially weigh in Wednesday on Joba Chamberlain's appearance and whether the promising reliever is in playing shape:
"He's heavier, I'll leave it at that. He works hard. He's a good kid. He's heavy."