Polo horses will undergo drug testing

Random drug tests will begin next year for horses in polo matches in the U.S. after the deaths of 21 elite horses in Florida that were injected with an incorrectly mixed supplement shortly before a championship match, the United States Polo Association said yesterday.

The decision was made last month to begin a pilot program for testing horses starting in January, said association spokeswoman Amber Owen.

The Lexington, Ky.-based organization put together a committee to study the possibility of testing shortly after the South Florida deaths in April. The random testing will be mandatory.

Horses from the Venezuelan-owned Lechuza Caracas team began collapsing April 19 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington as they were unloaded from trailers before the match. Some died at the scene, others hours later.

Florida's top veterinarian later ruled the deaths were caused by an overdose of a common mineral that helps muscles recover from fatigue. Dr. Thomas J. Holt said at the time that toxicology tests on the dead horses showed significantly increased selenium levels.

Baseball

* The Pittsburgh Pirates obtained infielder Akinori Iwamura from Tampa Bay for righthander Jesse Chavez.

* Chicago Cubs lefthander Ted Lilly had surgery on his left shoulder. The Cubs said they will determine after the first of the year a timetable for Lilly to start a throwing program.

* Detroit Tigers All-Star third baseman Brandon Inge has undergone surgery on both knees. Inge is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

Sport Stops

* Toyota is pulling out of Formula One racing in order to cut costs and focus on its core business.

* Natalie Darwitz scored twice to help the United States beat Sweden, 3-2, and set up a final against Canada in the Four Nations Cup in Vierumaki, Finland.

* American short-track speedskater J.R. Celski is confident he'll recover from a deep gash to his leg in time for February's Vancouver Olympics.

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