Four Cuban basketball players apparently defected during an Olympic qualifying tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the organizing committee said yesterday.

"The information we have is that there are at least two of them and possibly more," said Salvador Villela, president of the organizers.

Cuban basketball officials did not immediately comment. The team played the United States yesterday and arrived at the arena about an hour before game time. Cuba had only eight players in uniform.

Missing were three of the team's four leading scorers: Lazaro Borrell, a 26-year-old center; Roberto Herrera, 24, a guard; and Angel Cabellero, 28, a guard. A fourth player, center Hector Pino, 23, also was missing.

"We don't condemn what they are doing, but the solution is not to flee to the north or south, but to work in Cuba for the transformation to democracy," said Angel Padilla, editor of Disidente, a magazine for Cuban exiles in Puerto Rico.


IOC Eyes Reform

The International Olympic Committee should be more open and make its financial reports easier to understand, a reform panel suggested. In weekend meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, the 19-member group looked at ways to improve the operations of the IOC.

Specifically, the group proposed the IOC should "engage in more active and transparent communications to explain its work in between and leading up to the celebration of the Olympic Games," an IOC statement said. "Among the suggestions were refining the IOC's educational programs," and "opening the IOC Sessions to the media, as was done for the 109th session last month in Seoul."

The group will meet again Aug. 30-31 to finalize recommendations.


Mexico Forgoes Boycott

The Mexican soccer team has withdrawn its threat to boycott the Confederations Cup despite the suspension of two players for doping.

The 22 players had pledged not to play in the tournament unless Raul Lara and Paulo Cesar Chavez were absolved. But they retracted the threat after a meeting Saturday night with the head of the Confederations Cup organizing committee, Alejandro Burillo.

Lara and Chavez were suspended for six months after traces of anabolic steroids were found in their urine at the Copa America. The Confederations Cup begins Saturday in Mexico.


Capriati on Comeback Trail

It's strange to talk about comebacks at age 23. Jennifer Capriati, however, is no ordinary 23-year-old tennis player. Her return to quality tennis resumed with a victory in the A&P Classic, a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Chanda Rubin. It was the third time she has won the exhibition event in Mahwah, N.J. . . .

Conchita Martinez of Spain won the $180,000 Polish Open in Sopot, defeating Karina Habsudova of Slovakia, 6-1, 6-1.


Heyns Sets Another World Record

South African swimmer Penny Heyns twice broke the world record in the 100-meter breaststroke, one day after twice breaking the world record in the 200-meter event. Heyns first broke the 100-meter mark in 1 minute 6.99 seconds in the preliminaries of the Janet Evans Invitational in Los Angeles, then broke the mark again in 1:06.95 in the finals. Heyns also holds the world record in the 50-meter breaststroke.


Vargas Stays Unbeaten

Fernando Vargas stopped a bloodied Raul Marquez midway through the 11th round to retain his IBF junior middleweight title Saturday night in Stateline, Nev. Vargas kept his record perfect, winning his 17th straight fight, but had to go past the seventh round for the first time in his career.

CAPTION: IBF junior middleweight champion Fernando Vargas, with son Fernando Jr., is now 17-0 after TKO of Raul Marquez.