Wednesday’s Sports in Brief

OLYMPICS

MOSCOW (AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t boycott the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Putin said his government will allow Russians to compete as neutral athletes at the upcoming games in South Korea.

The International Olympic Committee has banned the Russian team from games as punishment for doping violations at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The IOC, however, plans to invite individual Russians to compete under the Olympic flag.

”Without any doubt we will not declare any kind of blockade,” Putin said in televised remarks after launching his re-election campaign at an automobile factory. ”We will not block our Olympians from taking part, if any of them wish to take part as individuals.

”They have been preparing for these competitions for their whole careers, and for them it’s very important.”

A Russian boycott would have been the biggest at any Olympics since the Soviet Union and its allies missed the 1984 Los Angeles Games. That itself was in response to the U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics four years earlier.

Putin also said Russia still did not accept accusations that it ran a state-backed doping system around the Sochi Olympics. He called the IOC ruling ”politically motivated” and unfair ”collective punishment.”

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) – Roger Goodell has signed a five-year contract extension to remain commissioner of the NFL through 2024.

A memo from the NFL’s compensation committee to team owners and obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press confirms that Goodell and committee chairman Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, have signed the extension.

That extension has been a source of controversy because Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones objected to the process.

All 32 owners approved in May the compensation committee’s power to negotiate and sign a deal with Goodell, who replaced Paul Tagliabue in 2006.

Since then, the league’s total revenues have more than doubled to $14 billion.

A person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press it is worth almost $200 million, with a base of $40 million. But the deal is incentive-laden, the person added, speaking on condition of anonymity because the contract numbers are not made public.

Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon has been accused of sexual harassment by an assistant for his sports marketing firm, according to a lawsuit filed in California.

The civil lawsuit was filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court. According to court documents, Wendy Haskell alleges Moon made ”unwanted and unsolicited” sexual advances as part of her role as his assistant working for Sports 1 Marketing. Moon is the co-founder and president of the company.

The Washington Post first reported on the lawsuit Wednesday. The 61-year-old Moon has been working as a radio commentator for the Seattle Seahawks. The team announced later Wednesday that ”We have accepted Warren Moon’s request for a leave of absence as the club’s radio analyst.”

Moon played parts of 17 seasons in the NFL with Houston, Minnesota, Seattle and Kansas City. He threw for 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns in the regular season and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. The former University of Washington star led Edmonton to five Canadian Football League titles before playing in the NFL.

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has been transferred from a Cincinnati hospital to Pittsburgh to continue treatment for a spinal injury suffered during Monday night’s game against the Bengals.

The Steelers say Shazier will continue to undergo tests before offering an update on his status.

Shazier left Paul Brown Stadium on a stretcher less than four minutes into his team’s 23-20 victory over Cincinnati following a tackle that left the 25-year-old writhing on the turf, his legs motionless. He underwent extensive testing at University of Cincinnati Medical Center under the care of neurosurgeons David Okonwko and Joseph Cheng.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A former University of Virginia and pro football player has been sentenced to 40 years for running a $10 million fraud scheme that victimized more than 50 investors.

Federal prosecutors say in a news release that 37-year-old Merrill Robertson Jr. of Chesterfield was sentenced Wednesday. He was convicted in August on 15 offenses, including mail and wire fraud and money laundering.

Prosecutors say Robertson and a co-conspirator operated Cavalier Union Investments in Richmond. Authorities say Robertson targeted former coaches, donors, alumni and employees of schools he had attended.

According to the documents, Robertson sold promissory notes that he claimed would pay an annual return of up to 20 percent.

Instead, prosecutors charged, Robertson used the invested money for cars, vacations and a luxury suite at a football stadium.

PRO BASKETBALL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Hornets coach Steve Clifford will be away from the team for an undetermined period of time to deal with a ”health issue.”

The team made the announcement Wednesday in a release.

The 56-year-old Clifford missed Monday night’s game against Orlando because he was not feeling well. Associate head coach Stephen Silas filled in for Clifford against the Magic.

Clifford has battled heart problems in the past, but a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the issue was not a heart-related. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team has not released details of Clifford’s health issue.

The team said there is no timetable for Clifford’s return and that officials would have no further comment.

BASEBALL

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Giants general manager Bobby Evans confirmed on San Francisco’s flagship radio station KNBR that the club has reached the parameters of a potential trade for Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

Evans said Giants executives gathered with the NL MVP and his representatives in ”a good meeting” last week.

”The specifics of the deal are not something that we feel comfortable discussing, but ultimately our hope is that if he does choose to come here, we’ll be able to fold him in with a winning club,” Evans said Wednesday. ”In terms of our deal it just has a number of contingencies, one of course that’s paramount is relative to his full no trade and that’s a decision that really comes from him. But our terms with the Marlins are clear.”

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said Tuesday that Miami has not decided whether to trade Stanton, still owed $295 million over the final decade of his record $325 million, 13-year contract. When asked specifically about absorbing the majority of that contract, Evans didn’t address it.

Stanton is due to make $25 million in 2018 after he led the majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs this season.