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Thursday Sports Briefs

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong is relieved the federal investigation into doping allegations against him has ended, and says he always stayed confident he would not be charged.

Armstrong spoke by phone to The Associated Press on Thursday, his first interview since prosecutors closed their nearly two-year investigation last Friday. He says the decision to not bring charges should end any questions or rumors about doping during his career.

Armstrong won the Tour de France every year from 1999-2005.

Armstrong says he quietly celebrated the end of the investigation with his family at his home in Austin, Texas.

Armstrong is scheduled to travel to Panama City, Panama, this weekend to compete Sunday in a triathlon. He also says he’ll spend this year supporting an anti-smoking campaign in California.

BASEBALL

Two-time defending AL champion Texas has avoided arbitration with another of its core players, agreeing Thursday to a $16 million, two-year contract with AL championship series MVP Nelson Cruz.

The deal came eight days before a scheduled arbitration hearing for Cruz and a day after slick-fielding shortstop Elvis Andrus completed a $14.4 million, three-year contract on the eve of his scheduled hearing.

The deal for Cruz, negotiated by agents Sam and Seth Levinson, includes $500,000 in performance bonuses over the two years.

Cruz, who made $3.65 million last season, had asked for $7.5 million in arbitration and the team had offered $5.5 million.

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Mets catcher Charles “Dock” Doyle and pitcher Scott Moviel have been suspended 50 games each under baseball’s minor league drug program.

Both were penalized Monday for second violations involving a drug of abuse.

Doyle, 25, hit .296 with two homers and 11 RBIs last year for the Class A St. Lucie Mets. He was a fifth-round draft pick from Coastal Carolina in 2008 and a New York-Penn League All-Star the following year.

Moviel, a 6-foot-11 right-hander, was 5-10 with a 5-10 ERA in 23 starts and three relief appearances last year at St. Lucie. The 23-year-old, now on the roster of Double-A Binghamton, was a second-round selection in 2007 from St. Edward High in Cleveland.

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets’ owners want the Supreme Court to decide whether only those investors who lost money should get a share of proceeds recovered from Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Sterling Equities Associates, which owns the Mets, on Feb. 3 asked the high court to hear the case. It will probably take months before justices decide if they will.

Thousands of investors lost billions of dollars before Madoff revealed his scheme in 2008. Judges repeatedly agreed with a trustee trying to recover money for investors that only those who lost their original investment can get a portion of what he recovers.

Trustee spokeswoman Amanda Remus says the Supreme Court should decline to hear the case because Sterling Equities is offering the same arguments that were already rejected by lower courts.

PENN STATE

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A dispute about whether people from the State College area will be allowed to sit as jurors in Jerry Sandusky’s child sex-abuse case is the subject of a hearing in a Pennsylvania courtroom.

The proceeding Friday at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte is also expected to address Sandusky’s request to have contact with his grandchildren and others while he awaits trial on 52 criminal counts.

Prosecutors want bail conditions toughened for the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant football coach, so that he wouldn’t be allowed outside his home except for medical treatment.

Other matters Judge John Cleland must decide include how much information prosecutors should have to turn over to Sandusky’s lawyers, and how quickly they have to do it.

HOCKEY

DETROIT (AP) — Next year’s Winter Classic could set an attendance record.

The Detroit Red Wings will face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium, the iconic college football facility that drew more than 104,000 fans for a college hockey game in 2010. The NHL formally announced the outdoor showcase Thursday at Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers. The baseball stadium will also be part of the festival, hosting games involving minor league and college teams. The Red Wings-Maple Leafs alumni game will also take place at Comerica.

Michigan and rival Michigan State attracted a Guinness World Record 104,173 people for a hockey game at the Big House on Dec. 11, 2010.

OHIO STATE

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Consultants are recommending that Ohio State hire a vice president to oversee a new office and committee that would monitor ethics and rules compliance across the university system.

The suggestion presented in a report Thursday to the university’s board of trustees is a response to the school’s football memorabilia scandal in which players sold football memorabilia or traded them for tattoos.

The report also recommends the university ensure that employees are appropriately trained, develop a risk-assessment methodology and monitor risks. Key risks would be subject to consistent monitoring.

A code of ethics would be expanded university-wide and reviewed at least once every five years.

The review looked at rules compliance across the university, with an emphasis on athletics, research, student financial aid and the medical center.