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Gatti's body exhumed for new autopsy

MONTREALBoxer Arturo Gatti's body was exhumed Friday to allow the Quebec coroner's office to perform a new autopsy at his family's request. The development comes a day after Brazilian police classified Gatti's death as a suicide.

Until Thursday, police in the northeastern Brazil city of Recife considered it a homicide, with his wife as the prime suspect. Now, police say Gatti hanged himself with a handbag strap from a staircase column more than seven feet off the ground. Gilles Ethier, deputy chief coroner of the western part of the Province of Quebec, said Gatti's family had retained an American pathologist, who will assist with the autopsy this morning at the Montreal morgue. "Clearly, it's necessary for us to pursue the investigation," Ethier said. "Of course, it's a little more complex for the pathologist because the body has been embalmed."

Gatti's Montreal funeral was July 20.

Many of his friends and family have expressed disbelief at the suicide ruling, and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a statement Friday that government officials will seek more information from Brazilian authorities on the Gatti investigation and its findings.Ellen Haley, a spokeswoman for Main Events, the longtime promoter of Gatti's bouts, said in a statement "we do not believe that he took his own life."

She said members of the Gatti family, along with his boxing manager Pat Lynch, will carry out their own investigation. "We believe that once the results of that investigation are revealed, the truth will come to light and justice will be done," Haley said.

Gatti's wife, 23-year-old Amanda Rodrigues, was released Thursday after being held since July 12 in Recife. She and Gatti arrived with their 10-month-old son a few days before in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas, where they rented a two-level apartment.

Milena Saraiva, a Recife police spokeswoman, provided more information Friday about Gatti's death.

Police ultimately concluded he hanged himself in the apartment early on July 11 from a wooden staircase column that was 7.3 feet off the ground. He stood on a stool and kicked it out from underneath him, police said. The autopsy report said Gatti was suspended for about three hours before his body fell to the floor.

Rodrigues said she was sleeping with the couple's son in an upstairs bedroom. She told police she went downstairs about 6 a.m. to get milk for the boy, saw Gatti's body on the floor and assumed he was drunkenly sleeping. It was not until she went back downstairs at 9 a.m. that she discovered Gatti was dead and called police. Saraiva said no suicide note was found.

"The first investigators to arrive at the scene only saw his body on the floor and the bloodied strap near his body," Saraiva said. "They assumed his wife strangled him."

Saraiva said 17 witnesses told police the couple got into a loud fight on a street near the beach in Porto de Galinhas the night before Gatti died. Saraiva said Gatti had seven cans of beer, along with two bottles of wine, over the course of dinner and partying at a bar.

Witnesses told police Gatti at one point picked up Rodrigues, who weighs about 100 pounds, by her chin with his right hand and tossed her to the ground.

Saraiva said at that point a security guard for a local hotel intervened, only to be punched in the face by Gatti. A small crowd that had gathered around the scene grew angry, with some throwing stones and even a bicycle at the boxer, the police spokeswoman said.

One stone hit Gatti in the back of the head, causing a wound that police originally said was caused by a small steak knife that was found near his body — and which police showed off to reporters the day after Gatti's death.

2 Tour riders hit with suspension, ban

AIGLE, Switzerland — Tour de France stage winner Mikel Astarloza was suspended by the International Cycling Union for doping ahead of this year's Tour de France.

Also Friday, the UCI banned Italian rider Riccardo Ricco for two years for doping at the 2008 Tour de France.

Astarloza had a positive test for the endurance-booster EPO in an out-of-competition control on June 26, eight days before the Tour began. He won the 16th stage of the Tour on July 21. The UCI said it has provisionally banned Astarloza from racing until the Spanish cycling federation can hold a disciplinary hearing. He rides for the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. The federation can disqualify any of Astarloza's results after June 26.

Ricco tested positive for CERA, an advanced version of the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO, after winning two stages of the 2008 Tour.

Kwan chooses school over more skating

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Michelle Kwan has chosen school over skating.

The nine-time U.S. champion announced Friday she will not return to competitive skating in hopes of earning a spot at the Vancouver Olympics. Kwan will pursue a master's degree in international affairs at Tufts University. She already has made several trips as a State Department envoy. Kwan, a five-time world champion, won a silver medal at the 1998 Olympics and a bronze in 2002. She made the 2006 team but was forced to withdraw because of injury. She had been working out for most of this year. An appearance at an ice show in South Korea next month — her first in front of an audience in three years — fueled speculation she might try for Vancouver

WNBA's Liberty fires its head coach

NEW YORKNew York Liberty coach Pat Coyle has been fired after a 6-11 start to the WNBA season.

The team announced Friday that assistant Anne Donovan will be the interim coach. Donovan coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Beijing.

The Liberty lost their third straight game Thursday, falling 78-75 at home to the Washington Mystics. New York trailed 34-12 after one quarter.

The Liberty are last in the Eastern Conference after reaching the conference final last year. Coyle coached New York for five seasons, compiling an 81-90 overall record. She was hired as an assistant in 1998.

Donovan has also coached in the WNBA at Indiana, Charlotte and Seattle. She guided the Storm to the WNBA title in 2004.

U.S. wins women's world water polo title

ROME — The United States has won its second straight gold medal in women's water polo at the world championships, beating Canada 7-6 on Kelly Rulon's penalty shot with 3:42 left. Rulon scored two goals Friday and Elizabeth Armstrong stopped a blistering shot by Tara Campbell with 17 seconds remaining to preserve the win.

The Americans have won three of the last four championships at the worlds. They settled for silver at the Beijing Olympics. Canada lost despite four goals from Emily Csikos. Russia won the bronze with a 10-9 victory Greece.

— Associated Press