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NEW YORK - Olympian Steve Riddick was convicted Thursday of conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering in a scheme with others to steal money from banks by cashing counterfeit checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Riddick, the former track coach at Norfolk State University, left the courtroom in a hurry, tersely saying "absolutely not" to a request for comment and pointing to his lawyer. His lawyer, Bryan Hoss, said he and his client were disappointed that the jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan took less than a day and a half to convict him after hearing evidence for three weeks. The jury convicted three other defendants of at least one charge in the conspiracy. Riddick, who won gold in a relay race at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, later became an elite professional coach, training Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery of Norfolk, Va., and Olympic champion Marion Jones, among others. Bank records indicate Jones was among those who received checks from one of the accounts opened with the fraudulent checks, but she was not charged in the case. Shortly before the trial, Montgomery pleaded guilty in the conspiracy to cash $5 million in counterfeit checks over a three-year period. He faces 37 to 46 months in prison at a Nov. 1 sentencing.

Tennessee athletes lead at SEC track

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Two Tennessee athletes took an early lead Thursday at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships, hosted by the University of Alabama. The opening day of competition featured the first half of both the decathlon and the heptathlon. Nia Ali, a Tennessee freshman, was leading the race for the heptathlon title. Winning two of the four events Thursday, Ali had 3470 points. Tennessee junior Jangy Addy led the men's decathlon through five events.

Celtics extend Rivers' contract

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BOSTON - The Boston Celtics extended the contract of coach Doc Rivers on Thursday after a season in which the NBA's most decorated franchise lost a team-record 18 consecutive games and finished with the second-worst record in the league. Rivers is 102-144 in three seasons in Boston, going 24-58 in 2006-07 to finish in last place in the Eastern Conference, 16 games out of the playoffs.

Landis: USADA went after him

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Floyd Landis claims the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's lead attorney approached his lawyer offering "the shortest suspension they'd ever given an athlete" if Landis provided information that implicated Lance Armstrong for doping. At a news conference Thursday to preview his upcoming arbitration hearing, Landis said he made the Armstrong allegations public not because he planned to use it as evidence when testimony begins Monday, but to show the lengths USADA will go to in prosecuting athletes. "It was offensive at best," Landis said. "It speaks to the character of the prosecution." The 2006 Tour de France champion said USADA general counsel Travis Tygart approached his attorney, Howard Jacobs, with a deal shortly after learning of Landis' positive doping test during the Tour. He said Jacobs characterized the conversation as one in which USADA would offer a deal if Landis passed on information about seven-time Tour champion Armstrong "or information about someone more important than me." Over the years, Armstrong has fought doping allegations that have never been proven.

Central's Howard inks with E&H

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BLOUNTVILLE - Sullivan Central's Christina Howard has committed to play at Emory & Henry college, the school announced Thursday. The 5-foot-7 forward averaged 8.3 points and three rebounds per contest last season for the Lady Cougars. Howard was an All-Big 9 Conference and All-Northeast honorable mention.

Curlin a go for Preakness

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NEW YORK - Curlin will have another go at Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in the Preakness. Trainer Steve Asmussen said Thursday that his third-place finisher in last week's Derby came out of the race in good shape and is set for the second leg of the Triple Crown on May 19. Curlin won his first three starts by a combined 28½ lengths, and went off as the 5-1 second choice in the Derby behind Street Sense. Robby Albarado will again be aboard the colt. Curlin finished 5¾ lengths behind runner-up Hard Spun and eight lengths back of Street Sense.

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