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POSTED July 5, 2012 10:49 p.m.

CYCLING

GREIPEL WINS 5TH STAGE OF TOUR DE FRANCE: SAINT-QUENTIN, France (AP) — Andre Greipel of Germany led a frenzied bunch sprint to the fifth stage finish line for his second straight Tour de France stage win on Thursday.

Fabian Cancellara retained the yellow jersey for a sixth straight day.

The mostly flat 121-mile trek from Rouen to Saint-Quentin was almost tailor-made for sprinters except for a slight uphill near the end.

The pack overtook three breakaway riders near the finish line. Greipel wheeled out in front a split-second ahead of Matt Goss of Australia, who was second. Mark Cavendish was fourth.

The top standings didn't change: Bradley Wiggins, the leader of Cavendish's Team Sky, was second overall, seven seconds behind the Swiss leader. Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia was 17 seconds off the pace in seventh.

 

ARMSTRONG: IMMUNITY REPORT CONFIRMS ‘VENDETTA’: ROUEN, France (AP) — Lance Armstrong accused U.S Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart on Thursday of waging a "vendetta" against him following reports five former teammates have received reduced suspensions after admitting to doping in return for testifying against the seven-time Tour de France champion.

"So let me get this straight ... come in and tell them exactly what they wanted to hear and you get complete immunity AND anonymity? I never got that offer," Armstrong wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "This isn't about Tygart wanting to clean up cycling — rather it's just a plain ol' selective prosecution that reeks of vendetta."

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that Armstrong's former teammates have been given six-month bans that begin in late September. Citing "well-informed sources," the paper identified them as Jonathan Vaughters, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde.

Vaughters, currently a team director at Garmin-Sharp's cycling team, said at the start of Thursday's fifth stage of the Tour that the report is "completely untrue."

 

BASKETBALL

STEVE NASH ELABORATES ON REASONS HE CHOSE LAKERS: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Nash chose the Los Angeles Lakers because they're close to his children and to NBA title contention.

The two-time MVP point guard went on ESPN radio Thursday to discuss his decision to join his longtime rivals with the Lakers, who will complete a sign-and-trade deal for the Phoenix Suns star next week.

The 38-year-old Canadian says he spoke to Kobe Bryant by phone Monday to confirm the Lakers star wants to work together. Bryant told Nash they would be a perfect fit in the Lakers' backcourt.

The rest of the Lakers are eager to play with Nash as well. Pau Gasol praised the trade in a video chat on Twitter on Thursday, even though the four-time All-Star realizes Los Angeles might not be done making moves.

 

AP SOURCE: LIN AGREES TO OFFER SHEET WITH ROCKETS: HOUSTON (AP) — A person with knowledge of the deal says New York Knicks restricted free-agent guard Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets have agreed to terms on a four-year contract offer.

The person told The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because the team hadn't officially announced the deal.

Lin can sign the offer sheet with Houston on July 11, and the Knicks will then have three days to match the offer.

The contract is worth $10.2 million over the first two seasons and $9.3 million in each of the last two years. The fourth season is a team option.

The person also told the AP that the Rockets traded Kyle Lowry to Toronto on Thursday for a future first-round draft pick with lottery protection.

FOOTBALL

NFLPA, VILMA MAKE MORE LEGAL MOVES IN BOUNTY CASE: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of three players suspended in connection with the bounty investigation, calling Commissioner Roger Goodell "incurably and evidently biased."

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove on Thursday in federal court in New Orleans, highlighted a flurry of legal activity surrounding the punishment of four players for what the NFL says was their roles in a program that paid improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents.

Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is suing separately in the same court, asked a judge to overturn his suspension while also requesting a temporary restraining order and injunction that would allow the linebacker to quickly return to work and keep working while his case is pending.

Goodell, meanwhile, filed a motion to dismiss defamation claims that Vilma made in his initial lawsuit against the commissioner in May. The motion, which was expected, states that Vilma is barred from making such claims by the dispute resolution process outlined in the NFL's labor agreement, which also includes a provision barring lawsuits by players against the NFL.

 

SOCCER

DAVID BECKHAM SUSPENDED 1 GAME FOR MISBEHAVIOR: CARSON (AP) — David Beckham was suspended for one game by Major League Soccer on Thursday for kicking a ball at an opponent in the Los Angeles Galaxy's loss at San Jose.

Beckham kicked a ball at San Jose's Sam Cronin during the 4-3 loss on Saturday. Cronin was down in the penalty box at the time, and Beckham's kick set off a prolonged argument between the teams.

Beckham was issued a yellow card for the incident. He missed the Galaxy's home loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday under suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.

The struggling defending MLS champions' next game is on Sunday at Chicago.

 

MOTORSPORTS

NASCAR NOT INTERESTED IN MANDATORY CAUTIONS: DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Bruton Smith has an idea on how to create more excitement in NASCAR.

NASCAR President Mike Helton doesn't sound very interested in the billionaire track promoter's suggestion to throw bogus cautions to bunch up the field.

Smith argued last weekend at Kentucky that long green-flag runs are damaging NASCAR and floated his idea on creating mandatory cautions.

On Thursday, Helton said NASCAR fans don't want manufactured drama.

Helton says fans want races to unfold naturally, and he believes NASCAR's green-flag racing is as exciting as any auto racing series.

Many drivers also seemed opposed to throwing mandatory cautions.

Carl Edwards said NASCAR would be headed down a slippery slope, and Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth said he opposed the idea.

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