SLED DOG RACING

Doping scandal involving past champ rocks Iditarod

The world’s most famous sled dog race has become engulfed in a doping scandal involving a four-time champion’s team of huskies, giving animal rights activists new ammunition in their campaign to end the grueling, 1,000-mile Iditarod.

The governing board of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race disclosed Monday that four dogs belonging to Dallas Seavey tested positive for a banned substance, the opioid painkiller Tramadol, after his second-place finish last March.

It was the first time since the Alaskan race instituted drug testing in 1994 that a test came back positive.

Seavey strongly denied administering any banned substances to his dogs, suggesting instead that someone may have sabotaged their food, and race officials said he would not be punished because they were unable to prove he acted intentionally.

But the finding was another blow to the Iditarod, which has seen the loss of major sponsors, numerous dog deaths, attacks on competitors and pressure from animal rights activists, who say the huskies are often run to death or left with severe infections and bloody paws.

SOCCER

U.S. MEN’S TEAM: Dave Sarachan, the top assistant to Bruce Arena, will be the interim coach for the United States when the Americans play an exhibition at European champion Portugal on Nov. 14.

Arena quit Oct. 13, three days after the Americans lost 2-1 at 99th-ranked Trinidad and Tobago and failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup. The rest of Arena’s staff will remain on for next month’s game.

WORLD CUP: Russian authorities announced Tuesday that next year’s World Cup will cost $600 million more than previously planned. No explanation was given for the cost rise.

GOLF

WOODS DUI: The diversion program for intoxicated drivers that Tiger Woods is expected to enter Friday is one of several across the country aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders and backlogs of court cases.

The 41-year-old superstar is scheduled to plead guilty at a court hearing to reckless driving, a less severe charge than driving under the influence, as part of a Palm Beach County, Florida, program that has graduated almost 2,500 first-time offenders since it began four years ago.

TENNIS

WTA FINALS: Venus Williams needed three match points and more than three hours to defeat Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 6-7 (3), 7-5 in Singapore on Tuesday.

By contrast, Karolina Pliskova capitalized on a fourth match point to easily beat Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-2. Pliskova, at 2-0 in the round-robin, is guaranteed a place in the semifinals.

SWISS INDOORS: Top-seeded Roger Federer eased past U.S. teenager Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-3 in the first round at Basel.

Federer next plays Benoit Paire, who beat 43rd-ranked American Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Also, Fifth-seeded American Jack Sock rallied past Vasek Pospisil of Canada, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5.

– Staff and news service report