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Originally published Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 6:47 PM

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Iditarod launches drug testing of mushers | Sled-dog racing

Every musher in the 38th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be tested for alcohol and illegal drugs on the trail — for the first time in the history of the 1,100-mile race in Alaska. Three-time defending champion Lance Mackey believes the change is directed at him.

Iditarod

Three-time defending champion Mackey says policy is directed at him: Every musher in the 38th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be tested for alcohol and illegal drugs on the trail — a first in the history of the 1,100-mile race in Alaska.

Three-time defending champion Lance Mackey believes the change is directed at him.

"I know for a fact," said Mackey, who is from Fairbanks, Alaska.

Mackey, a throat-cancer survivor who has been open about using medical marijuana on the trail in past years, on Tuesday was in eighth place. The race to Nome began with 71 teams Sunday in Willow; five mushers have stopped competing.

Jeff King, a four-time champion from Denali Park, Alaska, was the first to leave the McGrath checkpoint, which is 352 miles from Willow.

Scott White of Woodinville was in 51st place.

Race organizers aren't saying when or where on the route testing will occur. A musher who tests positive could face disqualification, a period of ineligibility from future races, or both.

"We're going to test everybody," said Stan Hooley, executive director of the Iditarod Trail Committee. "It's not going to be random."

Race rules have included a policy on drugs and alcohol since 1984, but the policy has not been implemented — though sled dogs have been tested for performance enhancers since 1994.

Hooley said it would be difficult to deny Mackey's contentions he is being singled out for his acknowledged pot use and that other mushers have complained.

"The reality of it is, he's won the race three times and people would like to figure out a way to beat him," Hooley said.

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Soccer

Arsenal, Bayern Munich reach quarterfinals: Nicklas Bendtner had three goals to lead Arsenal of London over visiting FC Porto of Portugal 5-0 and into the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League on 6-2 aggregate.

"I believe over 90 minutes, we controlled 80," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich of Germany advanced despite a 3-2 loss at Fiorentina of Italy. The home-and-home, total-goals series was tied 3-3, but Bayern gets to the quarterfinals because of a 2-1 advantage in away goals.

On Wednesday, Manchester United of England has a 3-2 lead at home against AC Milan of Italy and Lyon of France goes to Real Madrid of Spain with a 1-0 lead.

England's FA investigates secret recordings of players: England's Football Association is investigating security surrounding the national team after conversations between manager Fabio Capello and players allegedly were secretly recorded.

The recordings apparently were made during a team meeting at a hotel north of London last week before England's exhibition match against Egypt. An unidentified individual reportedly tried to sell them to newspapers.

Figure skating

Weir won't compete at worlds: American Johnny Weir announced he will not compete at the world championships later this month in Turin, Italy. Weir, 25, also said he is not retiring.

Skiing

Miller to sit out World Cup finals: Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., has called it a season, a week before the World Cup finals in Germany. He has a sore right ankle.

College football

Texas, Maryland get reprieve on recruiting rule: The NCAA has given Texas and Maryland a one-year reprieve from a new rule that limits off-campus recruiting by a coach designated as the head coach-in-waiting.

That will allow Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin to fully participate in the spring evaluation period in April and May.

Morriss apologizes for remark: Texas A&M-Commerce coach Guy Morriss has apologized for applauding his players for removing campus newspapers from their racks because of a front-page story about two players being arrested on drug charges.

Morriss told campus police the action by his players was "the best team-building exercise we have ever done."

This week, the former Kentucky and Baylor coach apologized for a "lapse in judgment" and said the comment was made facetiously.

Notre Dame mulls giving up independence: Calling the state of college sports the most unstable he has seen in 29 years, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the Fighting Irish were considering giving up their football independence, according to a story in The New York Times.

Boxing

One charge dropped in case against trainer Mayweather: A Las Vegas judge dismissed a felony coercion charge against trainer Roger Mayweather, who faces trial June 1 on allegations he beat and choked a female boxer at a Las Vegas apartment he owned.

Mayweather, 48, still faces battery strangulation and battery causing-substantial-bodily-harm charges carrying the possibility of up to 10 years in prison.

WNBA

Connecticut to pick first in draft: The Connecticut Sun will have the first pick in the April 8 draft in Secaucus, N.J.

The Sun obtained the first selection and guard Renee Montgomery from the Minnesota Lynx in a trade that cost it guard Lindsay Whalen and the second pick in the draft.

Seattle Times news services

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