PRESIDENT OBAMA named openly gay athletes to the delegation that will represent the U.S. next year at opening and closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, sending a clear signal to Russia about its treatment of gays and lesbians.
Tennis champion Billie Jean King will join the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony, while Caitlin Cahow, a women's ice hockey player and Olympic medalist, will represent the U.S. at the closing ceremony. Both athletes have identified publicly as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
White House spokesman Shin Inouye said that the delegation "represents the diversity that is the United States" and that Obama was proud to cheer America's athletes on at the 2014 Olympic Games.
The decision follows a public campaign by gay rights groups to urge the White House to include gays, lesbians and their supporters in the delegation in hopes of drawing attention to Russia's national laws banning "gay propaganda."
In other Olympic news:
* Television viewers can watch figure skating live during February's Sochi Olympics, a shift by NBC from past games outside North America. Every performance will air on cable channel NBCSN during the day, the network said, with key moments shown on tape delay on NBC that night as in previous Olympics.
* Two weeks after trading closer Jim Johnson to Oakland, the Baltimore Orioles agreed to a 2-year, $15 million contract with former Athletics closer Grant Balfour, according to a person familiar with the deal.
* The New York Yankees were hit with a $28 million luxury-tax bill, pushing their total past the $250 million mark since the penalty began in 2003. In another matter, the team agreed to a $2 million, 1-year contract with second baseman Brian Roberts and a $7 million, 2-year deal with lefthander Matt Thornton, according to a source.
* Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka said he wants to move to Major League Baseball next season but his Japanese team doesn't want to let him go. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League during the regular season. He will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season and can move to MLB only if the Eagles agree to post him.
* Alabama coach Nick Saban said "there were no talks" involving him and the Texas job.
* Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton and Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey have been selected to the Associated Press All-America team for the second straight season. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston from Florida State added All-American to his resume after a spectacular redshirt freshman season.
* Dover International Speedway said it has upgraded cellphone service for fans at its NASCAR Sprint Cup races.