Russia Will Enforce Anti-Gay Law During Olympics
MOSCOW -- Russia will enforce a new law cracking down on gay rights activism when it hosts international athletes and fans during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the country's sports minister said Thursday, appearing to contradict assurances to the contrary from the International Olympic Committee.
Russia's contentious law was signed by President Vladimir Putin in late June, imposing fines on individuals accused of spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors, and even proposing penalties for those who express these views online or in the news media. Gay pride rallies also are banned.
"An athlete of nontraditional sexual orientation isn't banned from coming to Sochi," Vitaly Mutko said in an interview with R-Sport, the sports newswire of state news agency RIA Novosti. "But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable."
Mutko emphasized that the law wasn't designed to punish anyone for being gay or lesbian. But like the Russian lawmakers who authored the bill, Mutko said athletes would be punished only for propaganda, a word that remains ambiguous under the new law.
NCAA Taking Flexible Approach to Tourney Games
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA announced changes Thursday to the way it will select teams for the men's basketball tournament, adding flexibility in hopes of keeping teams properly seeded.
The selection committee voted last week to change the bracketing principles in hopes of keeping teams where they naturally belong, Chairman Ron Wellman told reporters. In previous years, the committee has had to move a team up or down one or two lines to accommodate rules such as when conference teams can meet in the tourney.
Previously, conference teams couldn't meet until the regional final -- unless a conference had nine teams in the field.
The move comes in the wake of realignment that has seen league numbers swell over the past few seasons and has made the old rules difficult to navigate. The Big East, for instance, had 11 teams make the tournament in 2011 and 2012, and with more league expansion, conflicts seemed more likely to pop up.
Royals Win 9th Straight, Beat Twins 7-2
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Kansas City Royals won their ninth straight game, stretching their longest winning streak in more than a decade by beating Minnesota 7-2 Thursday behind Billy Butler's hitting and Lorenzo Cain's highlight reel catch in center field.
The Royals last won nine straight when they opened the 2003 season at 9-0. The last time Kansas City won more in a row was a 10-game string in 1994, STATS said.
Butler had two hits and drove in two runs. Justin Maxwell had a hit and an RBI a day after being acquired in a trade with Houston.
James Shields (6-7) gave up two runs on five hits and five walks in six innings for the Royals, who swept the three-game series and are showing potential to be a factor late in the season.