China's grandiose plans for the torch relay, the high-profile prelude to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, have been engulfed in conflict by an old political rival - Taiwan.

Within hours of Beijing's announcement yesterday of what would be the longest torch relay in Olympic history - an 85,000-mile, 130-day route that would cross five continents and scale Mount Everest - Taiwan rejected its inclusion.

"It is something that the government and people cannot accept," Tsai Chen-wei, the head of Taiwan's Olympic Committee, said in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei.

The episode underscores the deep mistrust between Beijing and Taipei, antagonists in an unresolved civil war, and how entwined the Olympics become with politics.

The torch also is supposed to pass through another political hotspot, the Himalayan region of Tibet that China has controlled for 57 years, often with heavy-handed rule. Four American activists were detained by Chinese authorities Wednesday on Mount Everest after they unfurled a banner calling for Tibet's independence.

In other Olympics news:

* Peter Ueberroth, the head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, called for a new global anti-doping strategy, saying more needs to be spent on research and science to beat the drug cheats.

* Olympic figure skater Emily Hughes will attend Harvard University in the fall as a fulltime student, while continuing training. Her sister Sarah is a junior at Yale.


* Former West Virginia coach John Beilein will pay the university $1.5 million - $1 million less than called for in his contract - for taking the job at Michigan with 5 years remaining on his deal.

* Stuard Baldonado, one of five Duquesne players shot on campus last year, has sued the school, alleging it failed to provide adequate security at a dance. Baldonado, who was shot in the arm, missed last season and it remains uncertain if he will play again, although he has been cleared to work out with the team.

* Mike Rice, an assistant at Pitt last season, was hired as the coach at Robert Morris University. Rice, 38, is a former Saint Joseph's assistant.

* Marquette sophomore guard Dominic James declared for the NBA draft, but will not hire an agent so he has the option to return to school.

* Lisa Leslie, a three-time WNBA MVP, has signed a multiyear contract with the Los Angeles Sparks. Terms were not announced. Leslie won't play this season because she's pregnant with her first child.

* Carol Ross resigned as the Mississippi women's coach and was replaced by assistant Renee Ladner.

Philly File

* Sarah Jones, a 2-year starter for Public League powerhouse Central, has signed to play basketball at Villanova.

* Steve Devlin has been hired as the football coach at Archbishop Wood. He most recently was the offensive coordinator at St. Joseph's Prep.

Sport Stops

* Texas state officials issued a boxing license to former WBO heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison, clearing the way for him to fight in Houston tonight. Morrison, 38, is scheduled to face Dale Ortiz in a four-round bout. Before launching his comeback earlier this year, he had been retired for 11 years following the discovery that he was HIV positive. *