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Following is a summary of current sports news briefs.

Armstrong admits doping in "toxic" tale

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong ended years of vehement denial on Thursday by finally coming clean and admitting he had cheated his way to a record seven Tour de France titles with systematic use of banned, performance-enhancing drugs. Confessing his "toxic" tale to chat show host Oprah Winfrey, the cyclist described himself as a "flawed character" while at last owning up to being at the center of one of the biggest drugs scandals in world sport.

Serena sweeps into last 16 at Australian Open

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Serena Williams overcame a feisty challenge from Ayumi Morita at the start of second set but recovered to swat aside the Japanese 6-1 6-3 and ease into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday. The 31-year-old American, seeking a sixth crown at Melbourne Park and a third successive grand slam title, was 3-0 down in the second set after suffering a service break for the first time in the tournament.

Azarenka survives scare against injured Hampton

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Defending champion Victoria Azarenka survived a huge scare from an injury-hampered Jamie Hampton, coming back from a break down in the deciding set to win 6-4 4-6 6-2 and reach the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday. The 63rd-ranked American winced with pain from a "messed up" back that forced her to leave the court for treatment but stunned the world number one with a barrage of forehand rockets to capture the second set and take a 2-1 lead in the third.

Untidy finish no problem for co-leader Castro

LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - Little-known Roberto Castro was delighted to hold a share of the second-round lead at the sun-splashed Humana Challenge on Friday, despite suffering a late wobble with two bogeys in his last three holes. While twice former champion Phil Mickelson made up some ground after an erratic start to the pro-am celebrity event in the California desert, Castro fired a sparkling five-under-par 67 to remain tied at the top.

Critics question Armstrong's interview answers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - While Lance Armstrong's confession that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career was praised in some quarters, critics say his interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey left many important questions unanswered. In the first part of the interview, Armstrong finally admitted to what the sporting world had suspected for years -- that the Texan had cheated his way to a record seven Tour de France titles.

Red Sox sign Ellsbury to $9 million contract 2013-01-19T005013Z_1_BRE90I013_RTROPTC_0_US-BASEBALL-REDSOX-ELL SBURY.XML () -

Sharper putting gives Mickelson reason to smile

LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - With his flu all but gone, Phil Mickelson had much more of a bounce in his step after an improved putting performance helped him shoot a five-under-par 67 in Friday's second round at the Humana Challenge. Mickelson is eager to build momentum on the PGA Tour's West Coast swing as he prepares for the Masters, the opening major of the year, and he was delighted to shake off some pre-season rust on another glorious late winter's day in the California desert.

Lysacek withdraws from U.S. championships 2013-01-18T230507Z_1_BRE90H1D6_RTROPTC_0_US-FIGURESKATING-US-LY SACEK.XML () -

Giants agree to $8 million deal with Posey 2013-01-18T222549Z_1_BRE90H1C4_RTROPTC_0_US-BASEBALL-GIANTS-POS EY.XML () -

Suns part ways with head coach Gentry 2013-01-19T021334Z_2_BRE90H164_RTROPTC_0_US-NBA-SUNS-GENTRY.XML () -

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