Smith Says She’s Innocent of Tampering with Sample

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Triple Olympic gold medalist Michelle Smith, again the focus of drug accusations, defiantly denied tampering with a urine sample that may have shown signs of a banned substance.

The Irish swimmer, whose success at the Atlanta Games was tainted by rumors of drug-taking although she has never tested positive, vowed Wednesday to fight the latest charges.

“I am innocent of these charges, I am appalled at the manner in which they have been leaked into the public domain, and I intend fully defending them, if necessary, all to the way to the International Sports Court in Switzerland,” Smith said at a news conference in Dublin, Ireland.


After reading her statement, she declined to answer questions.

FINA, the international swimming federation, said Smith is being investigated for “possible manipulation” of an out-of-competition drug test taken at her home in Kilkenny, Ireland, on Jan. 10.


Michelle Kwan, the women’s figure skating silver medalist in the Nagano Olympics, not Tara Lipinski, the gold medalist, was chosen to present President Clinton with a U.S. team jacket at a White House ceremony.

“Don’t you think it’s a terrible thing for them to do to poor Tara?” said Lipinski’s mother, Pat, who blamed the U.S. Olympic Committee for the perceived snub. “It’s been like this for poor Tara. It’s a terrible thing.”

USOC spokesman Mike Moran said skier Picabo Street was chosen to present the jacket after a vote by the whole Olympic team, but Street, who is injured, was unable to make the trip and Kwan was the second choice in the balloting.


Top-ranked Martina Hingis rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the first set to beat Julie Halard-Decugis of France, 7-5, 6-1, and move to the quarterfinals of the German Grand Prix at Hamburg. No. 2 Jana Novotna, of the Czech Republic, cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Magui Serna of Spain. Defending champion Iva Majoli of Croatia, the fourth-seeded player, was upset by Barbara Schett of Austria, 7-5, 6-2.


Oliver Gross, a German ranked No. 121 in the world, upset top-seeded Greg Rusedski, 6-4, 6-0, in 53 minutes in a first-round match in the BMW Open tournament at Munich, Germany. In a second-round match marked by double faults, Nicolas Escude beat the fifth-seeded Mark Philippoussis, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). Tim Henman of England, seeded No. 4, lost to Tomas Nydahl of Sweden, 6-3, 6-1. Magnus Gustafsson, also of Sweden, reached the quarterfinals, upsetting third-seeded Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.

Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni upset second-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 6-4, 6-4, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Czech Open clay-court tournament at Prague.


Vince Carter, a 6-foot-7 junior, could announce today that he will follow North Carolina teammate Antawn Jamison into the NBA, according to the Associated Press. On Monday, Jamison, the national player of the year, said he would make himself available for the NBA draft.

North Carolina and Stanford, half of last season’s Final Four, highlight the 16-team field for the 1998 Preseason NIT.


There is a “good possibility” of a rematch of the ballyhooed match race between Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey, which proved a bust last year, as part of the Goodwill Games in New York, according to Harvey Schiller, president of Turner Sports, which will televise the Games.

Claudio Lopez scored in the 84th minute at Rio de Janeiro, giving Argentina a 1-0 exhibition soccer victory over world champion Brazil, its biggest South American rival. It was the second 1-0 loss this year for Brazil, which also fell to the United States on Feb. 10.

A judge issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Cornelius Bennett after the football player failed to surrender to begin serving a 60-day sexual abuse sentence. Bennett’s attorney said the Atlanta Falcons linebacker had trouble getting a flight from Georgia to Buffalo, N.Y., but assured the judge he would turn himself in today. . . . Peter Graf, Steffi Graf’s father, was released from a Stuttgart, Germany, prison after serving two years for tax evasion.. . . The Arizona Cardinals signed former New York Giant quarterback Dave Brown to a two-year contract . . . Tampa Bay Buccaneer General Manager Rich McKay, who built a team that reached the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, will be rewarded with a contract extension. . . . Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal left a hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, after being treated for injuries suffered in a car accident.

Randy Harvey has the day off.