The head of the International Boxing Federation pleaded not guilty yesterday in Newark to bribery charges and both the organization and the promoters for Lennox Lewis later said the issue over the sanctioning fee for the undisputed heavyweight champion had been settled.

The lawyer for IBF President Robert W. Lee Sr. said the $300,000 sanctioning fee for Lewis had arrived at the group's East Orange, N.J., headquarters.

"If the check clears, the IBF will confer the belt on Lewis," said Gerald Krovatin, Lee's lawyer.

Lee was arraigned yesterday on federal charges he solicited bribes to fix rankings. He said his indictment might have prompted promoters of last weekend's fight between Lewis, the WBC champion, and Evander Holyfield, the WBA and IBF champion, to withhold the sanctioning fee.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey yesterday asked a judge to freeze two IBF bank accounts. They contend the money must be preserved in case Lee and other IBF officials are convicted and ordered to forfeit the $338,000 they are accused of pocketing over the past 13 years.

U.S. District Judge John Bissell said he would consider the request at a hearing Nov. 29.


Hairston Rehabilitating

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston has begun a rehabilitation program for a left shoulder injury he suffered while playing in the Venezuelan winter league. An MRI exam last week showed a slight tear of the labrum, but Hairston likely will not require surgery.

Orioles director of player development Tom Trebelhorn said the injury cut short Hairston's winter season with the Caracas Leones after only three games. Trebelhorn said Hairston had been bothered by discomfort in the shoulder for some time, but that it worsened considerably in Venezuela.

Hairston, 23, is projected as the Orioles' starting second baseman next season after impressing the team in 1999. He hit .269 with four home runs and 17 RBI, and did not commit an error in 50 games.

"It is the type of injury that responds well to a certain type of strengthening program," Trebelhorn said. . . .

D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams recently met with the head of the independent Northern League who wants to bring a baseball team to Washington for the 2001 season, but the mayor made no commitment to the league, a D.C. Sports Commission official said.

"In all likelihood, there was an expression of support," said Neville Waters, marketing director of the D.C. Sports Commission. "But obviously the preference is for a major league baseball team for Washington. There was no commitment made. We certainly don't want to jeopardize our attempts to bring major league baseball back to Washington as well as our relationship with Major League Soccer."

Last week, Northern League official Mike Veeck said the group wants to move one of its existing 16 franchises to RFK Stadium. RFK is the home site for D.C. United soccer games. Although D.C. United's lease expires at the end of this year, the MLS team, which averaged 17,000 fans a game this season, is expected to negotiate a new deal. . . .

The Florida Marlins acquired reliever Dan Miceli from the San Diego Padres for starter Brian Meadows. The deal was part of the Padres' effort to slash their payroll of $48 million last season.

Meadows, 24, led the Marlins in wins the past two seasons but wasn't expected to be part of their rotation in 2000. Miceli, 29, gives Florida an experienced setup man for closer Antonio Alfonseca.

Miceli made $1.1 million in 1999 and is to earn $1.5 million in 2000. Meadows made $250,000 last year and is not yet eligible for salary arbitration. Miceli went 4-5 with a 4.46 earned run average this season. Meadows went 11-15 with a 5.60 ERA in 31 starts.

Track and Field

Johnson Fails Drug Test Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson failed a drug test administered by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, the third time he has tested positive for a banned substance.

Johnson was notified about two weeks ago that he had failed an Oct. 7 test in Toronto, said Morris Chrobotek, Johnson's agent. Chrobotek said Johnson is on medication prescribed by a Toronto doctor for hypertension and a problem involving water retention, and insisted that Johnson, 37, isn't knowingly taking steroids or drug-masking agents.

Johnson ran the 100 meters in a world-record time of 9.79 seconds during the 1988 Olympics but was stripped of his gold medal and suspended for two years after testing positive for steroids.

Johnson tested positive a second time in 1993, and an Ontario court last year upheld a lifetime suspension against him. In August, Johnson's appeal for reinstatement was rejected by a three-member committee of the International Amateur Athletic Federation.


IOC Defends Agency

The International Olympic Committee insisted its new drug agency would operate independently and that the United States was misguided in fearing a conflict of interest.

Barry McCaffrey, the White House's chief drug adviser, contended the new World Anti-Doping Agency was linked too closely to the IOC. The agency is run by IOC Vice President Dick Pound and is temporarily based in Lausanne, Switzerland, the headquarters of the IOC.

"It looks to us as though it will be dominated by the IOC," McCaffrey said on the opening day of an international "Drugs in Sports" summit in Sydney. "That, to us, is unacceptable."

But IOC Vice President Kevan Gosper defended the agency before delegates from 26 nations attending the three-day summit.

"Contrary to some public criticism, its structure ensures that it is truly independent," Gosper said.


Girls Basketball

The "Nike 3 For All" girls basketball skills competition, the nation's largest skills competition for girls ages 17 and younger, begins in the Washington area in December.

Sites for the competition are the Hylton Boys and Girls Club and West Springfield High on Dec. 11, Stephen Decatur Community Center in Clinton on Dec. 12, The D.C. Boys and Girls Club in Northeast Washington on Jan. 8, Langley Park Boys and Girls Club on Jan. 15, and Annapolis High and the University of Maryland on Jan. 22. Participants will be judged in speed dribbling, field goal shooting and free throw shooting.


Results yesterday in the second round-robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series for the America's Cup in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf:

Spanish Challenge def. Young Australia by 1 minute 36 seconds.

America True def. Stars and Stripes by 1 minute 6 seconds.

Nippon def. Le Defi Francais by 49 seconds.

Young America def. Abracadabra 2000 by 4 minutes 58 seconds.

Prada def. AmericaOne by 1 minute.

Bye: Fast 2000.

Points Standings

Prada 34

Young America 24

America True 22

Stars and Stripes 20.5

AmericaOne 20

Nippon 17.5

Spanish Challenge 13

Abracadabra 2000 12

Fast 2000 8

Le Defi Francais 6

Young Australia 5