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Jurisprudence

EX-PUNTER SENTENCED: Former Northern Colorado backup punter Mitch Cozad was sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday for stabbing a rival in what prosecutors said was a brutal attempt to take over the starter's role.

"Clearly, this was deliberate to hurt him, and you succeeded," Weld County District Judge Marcelo Kopcow told Cozad as he announced the sentence.

"The goal is to not ruin your life," Kopcow said. "I would like you to succeed in your life."

Prosecutors said Cozad ambushed starting punter Rafael Mendoza on the night of Sept. 11, 2006. Mendoza was left with a deep gash in his kicking leg but later returned to the team.

Cozad was convicted in August of second-degree assault but acquitted of the more serious charge of attempted first-degree murder.

The 22-year-old Cozad, of Wheatland, Wyo., faced up to 16 years in prison on the assault conviction.

Defense attorney Joseph Gavaldon had argued it was another university student who stabbed Mendoza, not Cozad.

Cycling

ARMSTRONG UPSET: Lance Armstrong believes an American jury surely would have ruled in favor of Floyd Landis, unlike the arbitrators who found him guilty of doping.

The seven-time Tour de France winner lamented the consequences of the panel disregarding "shoddy" lab work in his first public comments about last month's decision to ban Landis for two years and strip him of his 2006 Tour de France title.

"I didn't follow Floyd's case that much, but I will tell you, if that's a jury trial in the United States of America, with eight or 10 or 12 of our fellow citizens, you get off every time. Not that you get off, but you're vindicated," Armstrong told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Auto racing

INDY RAISES PURSE: The Indianapolis 500 purse will be at least $13.4 million next year, an increase of $2.7 million from this year's record payout and the biggest one-year jump in the race's 91-year history.

The winner also will receive at least $2.5 million, some 42 percent more than the record $1.76 million paid to Buddy Rice in 2004.

Both the total and first-place prizes could be even higher, depending on contingency awards such as winning the pole position.

NEW SPONSOR: NASCAR was finalizing a deal Tuesday night with Nationwide Insurance to sponsor its No. 2 series beginning in 2008, The Associated Press has learned. Nationwide will replace Anheuser-Busch, which has sponsored the second-tier Busch Series for 26 seasons but said earlier this year it would end its entitlement deal at the conclusion of this season.

Hockey

BELL CLEARED: Mark Bell was cleared to play by doctors in the NHL's substance abuse program on Tuesday, but the new Toronto Maple Leafs forward will now have to serve the 15-game suspension handed down by the league.

DEVILS CLAIM BROOKBANK: The New Jersey Devils claimed defenseman Sheldon Brookbank off waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Tennis

SERENA CRUISES: Serena Williams made a successful return to the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, overwhelming Zuzana Ondruska 6-0, 6-0 in the first round Tuesday.