Phelps, China cruising through competition

BEIJING - The records, the medals. They just keep piling up.

Michael Phelps? Yeah, him, too.

The most dominant force thus far at these Olympics is the Big Red Machine known as the Chinese delegation.

By adding three golds, a silver and two bronzes to their collection Monday, China leads the pack with 14 total medals. Nine of those are gold.

To appreciate how impressive those numbers are, consider:

· The United States has the second-most medals with 12. None of the other 203 delegations have won as many medals of any color as China has won of the very best shade.

· No other country has won more than four golds. China has won that many in weightlifting alone.

· China has had nine different gold winners. The U.S. has only three golds, and two are by Phelps.

He's trying for eight and so far has looked up to the challenge, setting world records in both his finals. While anchorman Jason Lezak was the star of the 400 freestyle relay, Phelps still set an American record with his opening leg, then he returned to the Water Cube eight hours later and set an Olympic record in a preliminary heat of the 200-meter butterfly.

Day 3 of the Beijing Games went off under better weather - hardly any rain, with the bonus of Sunday's rain rinsing away some of the pollution.

But another kind of dark cloud appeared. Drugs.

Maria Isabel Moreno, a three-time national cycling champion from Spain, became the first athlete kicked out of the Beijing Olympics for doping after testing positive for EPO, a blood-boosting hormone that enhances endurance and has been at the center of numerous cycling scandals in recent years.

She was tested in the athletes' village July 31 and moved out the same day before learning the result, the International Olympic Committee said. She was to have competed in two races here. Instead, she might be barred from the 2012 games, too.



If Phelps wins seven or eight gold medals and gets a $1 million bonus from Speedo, he'll need to spend a chunk on Lezak.

Lezak dove in second to 100 star Alain Bernard of France. He was still trailing with about 25 meters to go, but zoomed to the wall first - 0.08 second ahead of Bernard.

Phelps threw his arms up and began hollering with the joy of a lottery winner. He sort of is, considering the odds the Americans faced, from Phelps finishing his leadoff lap in second place to Lezak trailing Bernard after the final turn, and considering the history - and big bucks - on the line.

The Americans finished in 3:08.24, a touch under 4 seconds faster than the world record set the night before by their qualifying crew.

'Unbelievable,' Phelps said. 'Jason's last 10 or 15 meters were incredible.'

Lezak covered his lap in 46.06, the fastest relay leg in history, though it doesn't count as an official record. Phelps' 47.51 does go into the record books as a U.S. best.

'A fingertip did the victory,' said Amaury Leveaux, one of the French swimmers. 'It is nothing.'

Katie Hoff knows exactly how bummed the French are.

She built a big lead in the 400 freestyle but touched 0.07 after Britain's Rebecca Adlington. After two of her five individual races, Hoff has a silver and a bronze - the number she expected, but not necessarily the right color.

'I got a bronze yesterday and a silver this morning. If I keep climbing at this pace, I'll be happy,' said Hoff, who has three more individual events, plus a relay.



It sounds like the opening round of a major: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and the Williams sister all advanced.

Nadal won his Olympic singles debut, beating Italy's Potito Starace 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, and Federer beat Russia's Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-2, then received congratulations from one of the spectators - LeBron James.

Venus Williams, playing her first match since winning Wimbledon, beat Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 6-2 and showed no sign of the knee injury that sidelined her in recent weeks.

Serena Williams finished out her weather-suspended match against Belarus' Olga Govortsova.

Her sister, seeded fourth, won all four games when her match resumed after an overnight rain interruption, and she beat Olga Govortsova of Belarus, 6-3, 6-1.



Don't mess with Chinese weightlifters. Chen Yanqing broke two Olympic records en route to her second straight gold medal in the women's 58-kilogram category, making the host country 3-for-3 thus far.

'In 2004, I won the gold medal for myself. Today, I won it for all my supporters and fans,' the 29-year-old said, revealing she almost quit the sport three times.

Later in the day, Zhang Xiangxiang won the men's 62-kilogram division, upping China to 4-for-4.



Like Phelps, the Chinese divers are aiming for eight. And, like Phelps, they already have two.

Lin Yue and Huo Liang won the men's 10-meter synchronized title, while the American tandem of David Boudia and Thomas Finchum slipped from third after four rounds to a fifth-place finish.


Women's basketball

A day after the U.S. men routed China, the women won by an even more lopsided score.

Tina Thompson powered a 23-0 run in the first quarter that sent the Americans well on their way to a 108-63 victory.



The U.S. women's team lost to Cuba in three sets. The good news: Barbara Bachman, the mother of 2004 Olympian Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon and the mother-in-law of U.S. men's coach Hugh McCutcheon, has had her condition upgraded to stable after being stabbed by the attacker who also killed her husband and then himself.



A fluke of a draw produced a rematch of last year's featherweight world championship finals. Speed and savvy produced a different outcome, with Ukraine's Vasyl Lomachenko beating Albert Selimov of Russia 14-7.


Beach volleyball

Americans Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs beat Germans Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau 21-17, 21-16.