President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama are not on the planned White House delegation to the Sochi Olympics announced Tuesday.
Yet the list is noteworthy because it includes openly gay athletes: retired tennis legend Billie Jean King and two-time Olympic hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow.
Their presence in Sochi will be notable given Russia’s law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors enacted last spring.
A White House statement said President Obama’s schedule doesn’t allow him to travel to Sochi and that the delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States,” according to reports.
King is on the delegation to attend the Opening Ceremony. Cahow is on the delegation for the Closing Ceremony. The delegations attend athletic events and meet with U.S. athletes.
“Honored to represent USA in Sochi and I hope these Olympics will be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people,” was posted on King’s Twitter account Tuesday.
“Incredibly humbled and honored to be representing my country with this remarkable group,” was posted on Cahow’s Facebook account.
Also on the list are five-time Olympic champion speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden (Closing Ceremony) and 1988 Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano (Opening Ceremony).
The last time a delegation did not include a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or a former president was in Sydney in 2000.
“President Obama is extremely proud of our U.S. athletes and looks forward to cheering them on from Washington,” the White House said in a statement. “He knows they will showcase to the world the best of America — diversity, determination and teamwork.”
Camel carries Olympic flame during Sochi torch relay
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — The head of the Major League Baseball Players Association says it will be difficult for big leaguers to participate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Baseball returns to Olympics after a 12-year absence for the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9 — in the middle of baseball’s season.
“There are challenges with the schedule, and there are challenges with major leaguers being involved,” Tony Clark said Thursday at the Baltimore Orioles’ spring training camp.
In 2008, players on major league 25-man rosters and disabled lists on June 26 were ineligible to play. The U.S. roster included 17 players from Triple-A, seven from Double-A and college pitcher Stephen Strasburg, now with the Washington Nationals.
“It doesn’t mean that we are not continuing to have dialogue. We have going back. We will going forward. Where we land, I don’t know,” Clark said. “One of the things we were able to discuss during this round of bargaining were some additional flexibility in the schedule moving forward. Maybe there are some opportunities for a broader discussion than there have been a year ago. We’ll have to wait and see. We haven’t had that kind of substantive sit down yet.”
Many players are preparing for the fourth edition of World Baseball Classic, an international tournament launched in 2006 that is co-owned by Major League Baseball and the union. Clark hopes to see a fifth edition in 2021.
“I see no reason at this point why it wouldn’t,” he said. “I’m hopeful it continues, understanding that the world we live in four years from now may be different from the one we’re in now.”
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong‘s $100 million legal fight with the federal government has been set for a November trial.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Thursday set a Nov. 6 trial start in Washington. Armstrong’s legal team had asked to postpone trial until 2018 because of a potential scheduling conflict.
The government wants Armstrong to pay back the $32 million the U.S. Postal Service paid his team for sponsorship, plus triple damages.
Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis initially filed the whistle-blower case in 2010, accusing him of violating the sponsorship contract by taking performance-enhancing drugs. The government joined the case in 2013 after Armstrong admitted cheating and was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and 2000 Olympic bronze medal.
Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for cheating, could collect up to 25 percent of damages awarded.
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