GOURETTE, France (AP) - One of its biggest stars is already gone, and now so is the leader of the Tour de France.

Michael Rasmussen was removed from the race by his Rabobank team after winning Wednesday's stage, a day after Alexandre Vinokourov and his team withdrew when the star cyclist tested positive for a banned blood transfusion.

"Michael Rasmussen has been sent home for violating (the team's) internal rules," Rabobank spokesman Jacob Bergsma told The Associated Press by phone.

The expulsion, which Bergsma said was ordered by the Dutch team's sponsor, was linked to "incorrect" information that Rasmussen gave to the team's sports director over his whereabouts last month. The Danish cyclist missed random drug tests May 8 and June 28, saying he was in Mexico. But a former rider, Davide Cassani, told Denmark's Danmarks Radio on Wednesday that he had seen Rasmussen in Italy in mid-June.


ATLANTA (AP) _ The Atlanta Falcons hired Bobby Petrino because they thought he could turn Michael Vick into a complete quarterback. They signed Joey Harrington merely to serve as No. 7's backup.

My, how things have changed.

Harrington is now the starter by default, leaving Petrino and the Falcons without their most prominent player as they prepare to begin training camp Thursday in suburban Flowery Branch.

How can the Falcons possibly cope with the jarring change from Vick, who last season became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards, to Harrington, a first-round bust whose career record as a starter is 23-43?

Petrino can only talk bravely about a smooth transition.

CHICAGO (AP) _ Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, who'd threatened to sit out the season, agreed to a one-year, $7.2 million deal with the Chicago Bears as the team's franchise player.

Briggs, who helped the Bears make the Super Bowl last season for the first time since 1985, had been unhappy when Chicago designated him as its franchise player. It meant he would get the average of the top five salaries at his position but restricted his ability to explore free agency because the Bears could match any offer.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The Tennessee Titans agreed to terms with veteran receiver Eric Moulds, adding some needed experience to the roster for quarterback Vince Young.


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal and his brother, Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins, were arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process at Eric Staal's bachelor party at a Minnesota resort.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office said the brothers were among 14 arrested last weekend after authorities received several complaints about "screaming, yelling and playing loud music" at the resort in northeastern Minnesota, about two hours from the Staals' hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario.


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Top-seeded Andy Roddick took another step toward his fourth final in five years at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Evgeny Korolev of Russia in the second round.

The two-time champion needed just 67 minutes to defeat Korolev. He was broken only once in nine service games and took control after being broken in the second game of the second set. Roddick won for the 18th time in 20 matches at Indianapolis.

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ Lilia Osterloh rebounded from a tough first set to beat second-seeded Marion Bartoli 5-7,6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic.

In her fifth appearance at the event, Osterloh reached the quarters for the second time and the first in six years by beating the Wimbledon finalist.