Ex-gold medalist says he’s gay
Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano came out Thursday, two days after he was named to the U.S. delegation for Sochi along with openly gay athletes Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow.
The 1988 gold medalist had always kept his personal life private, saying in a statement that “being gay is just one part of who I am.” But President Obama’s decision to include openly gay athletes in the delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies — and not send high-ranking officials — was widely seen as a message to Russia about its treatment of gays and lesbians.
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“First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance,” Boitano said in his statement. “As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”
Beltran, Yankees finalize deal
Outfielder Carlos Beltran and the New York Yankees finalized a $45 million, three-year contract. Beltran, 36, hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 runs batted in for the Cardinals last season and added two homers and 15 RBI in the postseason.
New York seems to have a logjam among outfielders on its roster, a group that includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Ichiro, Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells.
In other news, the Oakland Athletics acquired outfielder Corey Brown from the Washington Nationals for cash.
John Axford, who had 46 saves for Milwaukee in 2011 but lost his closer’s job last season and was traded to St. Louis, finalized a $4.5 million, one-year contract and will close for Cleveland in 2014.
Closer Grant Balfour’s $15 million, two-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles is now in major jeopardy after team doctors expressed concern with Balfour’s right shoulder during his physical.
The Chicago White Sox agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with right-hander Ronald Belisario and are closing in on a $4 million, one-year deal with left-hander Scott Downs.
Hamm leads all-time team
Forward Mia Hamm and defender Joy Fawcett were unanimous selections for the U.S. Soccer Federation’s All-Time Women’s National Team Best XI as part of the governing body’s 100th anniversary celebration.
Midfielders Michelle Akers, who graduated from Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, and Kristine Lilly were one vote shy of unanimous.
Forwards Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, and defender Christie Rampone were the only active players picked. Morgan, at 24, was the youngest.
The rest of the team included goalkeeper Briana Scurry; defenders Brandi Chastain and Carla Overbeck; and midfielders Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly.
Spain is at the top of the year-end FIFA rankings for the sixth straight year.
The reigning world and European champions were No. 1 for the 28th consecutive month in the December rankings. Germany was second in an unchanged top 10, followed by Argentina, Colombia, Portugal, Uruguay, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Brazil.
The United States, the top-ranked team from North and Central America and the Caribbean, remained 14th for the second straight month.
Boise coach names coordinators
New Boise State coach Bryan Harsin has convinced top assistants at Texas A&M and Stanford to come back and coach at their alma matter.
Harsin announced Marcel Yates will return to be defensive coordinator. Harsin tapped former quarterback Mike Sanford Jr. to be the offensive coordinator.
Purdue announced it has joined Pittsburgh and Michigan on the list of teams that usually play the Fighting Irish on an annual or near-annual basis but won’t any longer. Notre Dame’s annual game against Michigan State could be the next to fall as it commits to playing five games each season against Atlantic Coast Conference teams.
1,500 champion cleared
The Turkish Athletics Federation cleared Olympic champion Asli Cakir Alptekin of doping violations.
The federation said it found no violations of doping rules by Alptekin, who won gold in the 1,500 meters at the 2012 London Olympics.
The probe was prompted by an IAAF request this year that Turkey investigate Alptekin. The international track and field association said Alptekin had abnormal blood values in her biological profile.
• Blake Anderson, offensive coordinator at North Carolina, was named football coach at Arkansas State.
• Alabama suspended reserve linebacker Xzavier Dickson and freshman tailback Alvin Kamara for the Sugar Bowl.
• Shaun White qualified for the slopestyle finals at the U.S. Grand Prix in Copper Mountain, Colo., guaranteeing himself the top-30 finish he needed to be eligible for the Sochi Olympics.
• A misdemeanor assault charge against Cincinnati boxer and former World Boxing Association welterweight champion Adrien Broner has been dismissed. Broner’s attorney said the man who accused Broner of punching him in the face in May 2012 did not show up for the trial in Hamilton County Municipal Court in southwest Ohio.
Seattle Times news services