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Clean racer

Sports | Sprinter Allyson Felix wants more than gold this summer

Issue: "Unify and conquer," June 14, 2008

The daughter of a seminary professor, sprinter Allyson Felix wants more than gold this summer.

The image of the all-American track diva, once a symbol of national pride, is in need of new shimmer. Last year's admission from superstar Marion Jones that she used performance-enhancing drugs to capture five medals at the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia confirmed longtime suspicions and fueled distrust of the country's fastest women.

Allyson Felix (see WORLD, Sept. 4, 2004) is out to change that. The daughter of Paul Felix, a New Testament professor at The Master's Seminary, the 22-year-old sprinter is interested less in achieving diva status than in cleaning up her sport's public perception. To that end, she's participating in Project Believe, a voluntary blood and urine testing program meant to establish baseline body chemistry figures against which the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency can compare other athletes.

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Between tests, Felix has run the world's fastest times this year in both the 100 and 200 meters. Having taken silver in the 200 meters as a spindly teenager four years ago in Athens, she is expected to compete for multiple gold medals this August in Beijing.

But for Felix, success this summer is about more than winning. She is among a handful of Olympic stars featured in a new Athletes in Action DVD that highlights the Christian faith of high-profile competitors. Her intent: become the role model Jones turned out not to be.

Flopping out

Every year, the passion and heightened intensity of the NBA playoffs provokes accusations of dirty play. This season, Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace, no Boy Scout himself, lashed out in a profanity-laced tirade against Boston Celtics players for flopping-that is, collapsing to the floor with theatrical melodrama to trick officials into calling fouls.

The art of flopping is nothing new and is occasionally heralded as smart basketball. But NBA rules changes for next season, recently announced at the league's annual pre-draft camp, will render the practice something old. Game observers and video reviewers will now report incidents of players taking a dive for potential fines or possibly even suspensions.

The new penalties could dramatically change the face of defense and perhaps shorten the careers of the league's most notorious thespians.

Petty cash

Auto racing's greatest spectacle prompted a national celebration May 25 when New Zealander Scott Dixon became the first Kiwi to win the Indianapolis 500. Now, auto racing's greatest charity event promises to spark celebration of an entirely different flavor. The Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride, in which 250 motorcyclists will travel some 2,300 miles across the American heartland, is slated to begin this month in Traverse City, Mich. The 14-year-old event has raised more than $10.5 million for children's charities since its inception and will send this year's proceeds to the Petty family's Victory Junction Gang Camp for chronically ill children.

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