Thursday’s Sports in Brief

Sports

OLYMPICS

MOSCOW (AP)Russia hardened its line on a doping issue which could threaten the country’s participation at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The Russians, who handed over a vast archive of data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory to the World Anti-Doping Agency in January, denied that any of it was manipulated.

Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said Russian experts have conducted an analysis which found no ”deletions” or ”manipulations.” He said they are sharing those findings with WADA.

”The experts consider that there were no deletions at all there. It’s a purely technical issue related to how the system itself works,” Kolobkov said. ”All these issues will be discussed and I’m sure all these issues will be explained.”

WADA had its own copy of the database provided by a whistleblower in 2017. International sports officials have previously said there are signs that specific athletes’ test results were changed.

A report for track’s governing body in September said ”these discrepancies are not random” and that the copy of the database handed over by Russia is missing positive doping-test findings that were in the earlier copy.

PRO BASKETBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The NBA fined the Los Angeles Clippers $50,000 for statements made by coach Doc Rivers and others that were ”inconsistent” about Kawhi Leonard’s heath status.

Leonard sat out the Clippers’ 129-124 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, the second time he’s missed the nationally televised front end of a back-to-back this season. He was in the lineup against Portland on Thursday night.

The NBA initially confirmed the Clippers were compliant with league rules in deciding to rest Leonard because of a knee injury. It was what Rivers said before the game that triggered the fine.

”He feels great,” Rivers said Wednesday. ”But he feels great because of what we’ve been doing, and we’re just going to continue to do it. There’s no concern here.”

Rivers cited ”a lot of minutes” that Leonard racked up last season while leading Toronto to its first NBA championship.

Less than 24 hours later, the NBA fined the Clippers for statements, including those by Rivers, that were inconsistent with Leonard’s health while also detailing his knee injury. At the same time, the league reaffirmed the team was in line with NBA rules in sitting Leonard.

GOLF

U.S. captain Tiger Woods used one of his four wild-card selections on himself Thursday and will become the first playing captain in the Presidents Cup since Hale Irwin in the inaugural edition 25 years ago.

The decision was hardly a surprise.

Woods is the Masters champion and two weeks ago tied the PGA Tour record with his 82nd career victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan. He is No. 6 in the world ranking.

He also took Tony Finau, U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed.

The Presidents Cup is Dec. 12-15 at Royal Melbourne. Ernie Els filled out his International team on Wednesday and has six newcomers.

BASEBALL

HOUSTON (AP) – Astros president Reid Ryan is shifting to a lesser role in the organization and owner Jim Crane’s son is joining the executive team, moves announced 11 days after Crane apologized to a Sports Illustrated reporter and retracted a statement by the club accusing her of trying to ”fabricate a story.”

Crane said Thursday he was bringing in his son, Jared, to get more experience and to help in the organization. Crane maintained the moves were not related to the incident with SI or the firing of an assistant general manager.

”It’s a family issue. I have an older son that’s very good, very bright, and has got some experience but he hasn’t been around it, and I want to start teaching him,” said Crane, who turns 66 in January and has owned the team for eight years. ”I’ve been working a long time, and very hard a long time, and I have other stuff, and so he’s just coming in to lend a hand.”

The team said that Ryan’s new role as executive adviser of business relations will allow him ”more opportunities to focus on his other business ventures while remaining an important part of the Astros organization.”

Ryan’s father, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, told Fox 26 of Houston on Thursday that he was leaving his role as executive adviser that he had held since 2014.

PRO FOOTBALL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – The elusive black cat from ”Monday Night Football” is still on the run.

MetLife Stadium officials said the search for the fleet feline that briefly delayed the nationally televised game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys on Monday night has been unsuccessful.

The search started on Tuesday morning with multiple humane traps being stationed in the stadium. After that came up empty, stadium officials asked PuppykittyNYCity – a trap, neuter, release and no-kill shelter – for help.

”We are hopeful that together we can find the black cat that we all fell in love with Monday night,” the stadium statement said.

PuppykittyNYCity said in a statement Thursday that if the cat is caught, it will be assessed for a home or relocation.

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