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Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu kicked off LSU’s team

Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off Louisiana State’s football team Friday for breaking an athletic department rule, a blow to the Tigers’ national championship hopes three weeks before their season opener.

The junior defensive back — nicknamed Honey Badger for his tenacious style, small stature (5 feet 9, 175 pounds) and blond streak of hair — rose from obscurity to become one of college football’s biggest stars last season.

He was a sleeper Heisman candidate as the Tigers won the Southeastern Conference championship and reached the BCS title game. But almost as quickly as Mathieu rose to fame and became the face of LSU football, the Honey Badger phenomenon ended in Death Valley.

“We’ll miss the guy,” Coach Les Miles said at a news conference. “The football team’s got to go on. We’ll have to fill the void.”

Miles would not specify the reason Mathieu was dismissed. His Tigers are still among the favorites to win the national title this year, even without Mathieu.

Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Mathieu, who was suspended for a game in 2011 after failing a drug test, violated an athletic department rule and had his scholarship revoked.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, citing an unidentified person close to the player, reported that Mathieu failed another drug test. Several high-ranking LSU administrators said they either did not know which rule Mathieu had violated or refused to discuss the matter. School policy allows for a player to lose his scholarship even without another positive test if he does not fulfill all the terms of university probation.

The 20-year-old Mathieu won the Bednarik Award as national defensive player of the year last season and was a big-play machine at cornerback and special teams. The All-American scored four touchdowns — two on punt returns and two on fumble returns — intercepted two passes, caused six fumbles and recovered four.

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Top-seeded Novak Djokovic advanced to the Rogers Cup semifinals in Toronto, winning two matches Friday in the rain-delayed tournament.

Djokovic, the defending champion in the hardcourt event, beat Sam Querrey, 6-4, 6-4, in the afternoon in a third-round match that was originally scheduled for Thursday, then delayed by rain for 2 1/2 hours in the second set. The second-ranked Serb returned to the court at night to beat Tommy Haas, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, in a quarterfinal match that ended just before midnight.

Djokovic will face fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic on Saturday. The fifth-seeded Tipsarevic beat No. 10 Marin Cilic, 6-2, 6-4, in the third round, and topped 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

In the other quarterfinals, eighth-seeded John Isner knocked out Canadian Milos Raonic, 7-6 (9), 6-4; and 14th-seeded Richard Gasquet edged No. 11 Mardy Fish, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

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Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak led Christina McHale, 7-6 (5), 5-2, when rain interrupted their third-round match in the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Play was suspended for more than six hours before the match was postponed until Saturday.

Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka withdrew because of a left knee injury.

Lucie Safarova upset fourth-seeded Samantha Stosur, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5).

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Chella Choi shrugged off two bogeys to start the back nine, making birdies on three late holes for a four-under-par 67 and a one-shot lead after the second round of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in Sylvania, Ohio.

Choi, winless in her four years on the LPGA Tour, started with a 66 and was at nine-under 133 at rainy Highland Meadows Golf Club. Inbee Park, coming off a victory in the Evian Masters, had the day’s low round, climbing 29 spots on the leaderboard with a 65. Mika Miyazato had a 68, and Hee Kyung Seo a 66 to join Park at eight under.

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Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn set up a semifinal showdown in the U.S. Women’s Amateur with quarterfinal victories at the Country Club in Cleveland. Jutanugarn, from Thailand, beat UCLA’s Erynne Lee of Silverdale, Wash., 5 and 4. The 15-year-old Ko, the South Korean-born New Zealander who tops the world amateur rankings, beat South Africa’s Paula Reto 3 and 1.

Canada’s Nicole Zhang will face Jaye Marie Green of Boca Raton, Fla., in the other semifinal.

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One day after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman promised the league would lock out its players if a new collective bargaining agreement was not in place by Sept. 15, representatives from both the NHL and the players’ association exuded an air of optimism that the season could start on time.

The league and the NHLPA met for nearly three hours at the NHL offices in New York. The session was centered around hockey issues, specifically an appeals process for supplemental discipline and the lengths of training camps.


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