South Carolina women decline White House invite

Allen Kee/ESPN Images(WASHINGTON) -- On Friday, President Donald Trump is hosting the collegiate sports champions of the past year at the White House. The South Carolina women's basketball team, however, will not be in attendance.

"We did hear from the White House about attending [Friday's] event, but we will not be able to attend," Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley said in a statement. "As I've been saying since our practices for this season started, all of our focus is on the season ahead. The only invitation we are thinking about is to the 2018 NCAA Tournament."

When South Carolina won its first ever national championship back in April, Staley said her team would go to the White House because of what it stood for, and it's what national champions before her team did. However, as of September the team had not received an invite to go to the White House, and Staley said she was unsure she would accept an invite given recent events that had transpired.

The White House did not provide a list of the teams that will be attending Friday's reception. The 2017 national champion North Carolina men's basketball team will also not be in attendance, but said earlier in the year they could not agree on a date for a visit. President Trump previously hosted the 2016 NCAA football champion Clemson Tigers in June.

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Paralympic gold medalist Victoria Arlen discusses how her time as an athlete helped her succeed on "Dancing with the Stars"

Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Victoria Arlen is just 23-years-old and has already checked some major goals off her bucket list, all while serving as an inspiration to so many.

When Arlen was 11, she was diagnosed with transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which took away her ability to speak, eat, and walk for years.

After a miraculous recovery, she won a gold medal in swimming at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, was hired by ESPN as an on-air talent, and most recently made it to Week 9 of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" alongside her dancing partner Val Chmerkovskiy.

Chmerkovskiy and Arlen performed the Charleston, and completed a contemporary routine dedicated to her parents based on Arlen's recovery from her illness. They finished the latter performance with a score of 27, failing to advance past the semifinals.

Arlen and Chmerkovskiy recently spoke with ABC Radio about their performance on "Dancing with the Stars," saying her time as an Olympic athlete contributed to her success on the show.

"My swim coach was very tough on me and I respond well to that training... being pushed to my limit," Arlen says, discussing how Chmerkovskiy pushed her to perfect her dance routine.

Arlen dedicated a lot of time to learning her new craft—approximately four to five hours a day—saying she took the discipline that she had as an athlete and applied it to dancing.

She looks to perform at the highest possible level in whatever she tries, and "when [she doesn’t] meet that goal, it's devastating."

Chmerkovskiy realized what he was working with in Arlen: an athletic dancer with a commitment to excellence.

"Athletes don't take the process personally, and that makes it awesome... They're coachable," says Chmerkovskiy, who had previously danced with another Olympian, Laurie Hernandez. He adds, "Their competitive nature was secondary to their humility and them as people."

Chmerkovskiy also praised Arlen's character, saying, “This is the next million dollar baby story. There's an Oscar in her future."

Arlen told ABC News that she is open to whatever opportunity life presents next, whether or not that includes dancing. Next year, she will check another box off her bucket list when she becomes an author, as she is set to release a new book.

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Scoreboard roundup -- 11/16/17

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Here are the latest scores from today's sports events:
 Final  Boston    92  Golden State   88
 Final  Houston  142  Phoenix       116
 Final OT  Toronto         1  New Jersey     0
 Final  N-Y Islanders   6  Carolina       4
 Final  Pittsburgh      3  Ottawa         1
 Final  Tampa Bay       6  Dallas         1
 Final  Arizona         5  Montreal       4
 Final SO  Winnipeg        3  Philadelphia   2
 Final  Minnesota       6  Nashville      4
 Final  St. Louis       4  Edmonton       1
 Final  Colorado        6  Washington     2
 Final  Vegas           5  Vancouver      2
 Final  Florida         2  San Jose       0
 Final  Boston          2  L.A. Kings     1
 Final  (23) South Florida   27  Tulsa   20
 Final  Pittsburgh   40  Tennessee   17

 Final  (3) Arizona       91  CS Bakersfield   59
 Final  (8) Florida      108  North Florida    68
 Final  (11) Miami        90  Florida A&M      59
 Final  (12) Cincinnati   97  Coppin St.       54
 Final  (13) Notre Dame  105  Chicago St.      66
 Final  (15) Xavier       80  Wisconsin        70

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Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, Astros' Jose Altuve win MLB MVP Awards

Photos by Allen Kee / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- One of baseball's biggest sluggers and one of its shortest stars each claimed their first MVP Award on Thursday night.

In the National League, Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton won one of the tightest MVP races in history. Stanton held off Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto by two points. Stanton hit a league-leading 59 home runs and drove in 132 runs this season.

Stanton was just the sixth player to win the award on a team with a losing record, and the first Marlins player to ever win.

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve received 27 of the 30 first place votes, en route to winning the American League award. Altuve, just 5-feet-6 inches tall, maintained a .346 batting average along with 204 hits, 24 home runs and 81 RBI this year. His Astros won the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Altuve is the second Astros star to win the award, following in the footsteps of first baseman Jeff Bagwell in 1994.

Since 1995, only Altuve, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey and Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant have won the MVP award in the same season their team won the World Series.

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, considered the other contender for the AL award, finished in second.

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Global anti-doping agency rules Russia is 'non-compliant' with code

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTREAL) -- The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the top international body overseeing anti-drug efforts in sports, has ruled that Russia remains “non-compliant” with its code, harming the country’s chances of competing in the Winter Olympics this February in South Korea.

At a meeting in South Korea’s capital on Thursday, WADA announced that it was unable to reinstate Russia’s national anti-doping agency, RUSADA, which was suspended after Russia was found to have run a massive state-sponsored cover-up of doping by its athletes. Russia was subsequently partially barred from the Summer Olympics and entirely from the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

WADA’s decision raises the prospect that Russia could now suffer a similar fate at the Winter Olympics, taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide in early December what penalties, if any, to levy against Russia over the doping cover-up.

WADA’s ruling will likely increase calls for the IOC to exclude Russian athletes from the Winter Olympics. It also substantially increases the likelihood that Russia will miss the Paralympics; the International Paralympics Committee has said previously Russia will not be allowed to compete again until WADA rules that it is compliant.

On Thursday, WADA’s chairman, Craig Reedie, said that although Russia made progress in overhauling RUSADA, it failed to meet two requirements that would allow its reinstatement: that Russia publicly accept the findings of an independent WADA investigation last year that its doping cover-up had been state-sponsored and that Russia give access to athletes’ urine samples collected during the time of the cover-up.

Russian officials disputed WADA’s decision. Sports minister Pavel Kolobkov said, “We believe that Russia has met every requirement for reinstating the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.” He added that Russian athletes have been tested by foreign monitors for two years, meaning further doping could not go undetected.

Russia has overhauled RUSADA, removing a number of its top officials who were implicated in the cover-up. But Russian officials have never accepted that the cheating was part of a state-sponsored system, instead arguing that it was the work of individual anti-doping officers, coaches and athletes. Russian officials and media have sought to cast doubt on the findings of the so-called McClaren report, an investigation by the Canadian law professor Richard McClaren that was commissioned by WADA and uncovered the scale of the doping scheme.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin portrayed the doping allegations as an American-led plot meant to influence the country’s presidential election in March.

“This is what is bothering me -- the Olympics start in February, and when are our presidential elections? In March,” the Russian state-news agency, RIA-Novosti, quoted Putin as saying. “There are big suspicions that all this is being done to create for someone the necessary conditions for discontent among sport lovers, athletes.”

At the WADA meeting on Thursday, the president of Russia’s Olympic Committee and IOC member, Aleksander Zhukov, told the body's members that it is impossible for Russia to fully accept McClaren’s findings.

McClaren’s investigation last year found an elaborate cover-up orchestrated by Russia’s sports ministry and aided by its intelligence services that allowed it to conceal positive tests from hundreds of its athletes from 2011-2015. The cover-up affected the “vast majority” of Winter and Summer Olympic sports, the report found.

The findings saw Russia’s track and field team barred from all international competitions, including the Rio Olympics. The IOC ordered international sports federations to decide which Russian athletes could be cleared to compete in Rio, and hundreds eventually took part. The International Paralympics Committee took a harder line, banning Russian athletes entirely.

Ahead of the coming Winter Olympics, the IOC has reportedly been weighing punishing Russia by forbidding its national anthem to be played during the Games or excluding Russian athletes from the opening ceremony. There have been calls for harsher punishment, including a full ban.

The IOC’s executive committee is due to meet Dec. 5-7 to hear the results of its own investigation into the Russian doping scheme and to decide what sanctions should be imposed.

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Scoreboard roundup -- 11/15/17

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Here are the latest scores from Wednesday's sports events:

N.Y. Knicks 106, Utah 101
Washington 102, Miami 93
Atlanta 126, Sacramento 80
Oklahoma City 92, Chicago 79
Indiana 116, Memphis 113
Toronto 125, New Orleans 116
Milwaukee 99, Detroit 95
Minnesota 98, San Antonio 86
Cleveland 115, Charlotte 107
Portland 99, Orlando 94
Philadelphia 115, L.A. Lakers 109

Detroit 8, Calgary 2
Chicago 6, N.Y. Rangers 3
Anaheim 4, Boston 2

(9) North Carolina 93, Bucknell 81
(14) Minnesota 107, Niagara 81
Creighton 92, (20) Northwestern 88
(21) Saint Mary's (Cal) 76, Cal St.-Fullerton 57
(22) Seton Hall 84, Indiana 68
OT (23) UCLA 106, Cent. Arkansas 101
(24) West Virginia 98, American U. 64

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Former NFL player confirmed as 1st diagnosis of CTE in living patient

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Researchers in Chicago report that they have detected evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE, in a living patient for the first time.

Currently, CTE, a degenerative brain disease found in those with a history of repetitive brain trauma, can only be formally diagnosed after an autopsy. But a new study indicates researchers may be one step closer to being able to diagnose the disease while a patient is still alive by detecting deposits of tau proteins.

Scans performed on 14 retired NFL players while they were still alive indicated the presence of tau, a type of protein that clumps up over neural cells that have been damaged, according to a study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery. The protein slowly spreads throughout the brain, killing brain cells, according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

When one of the former players died, doctors were able to determine whether the "distinctive CTE pattern" that resulted in his scan actually indicated the presence of the disease. Once the man's brain was examined after his death, doctors made the official CTE diagnosis, according to the study.

The man was 59 when his brain was scanned, according to the study. Two years later, at age 61, the man's wife noticed that he had been experiencing progressive motor deficits, such as the inability to button his shirts, zip his pants or tie his shoes. Eventually, he was no longer able to feed himself. He had also developed muscle twitching in his arms and decreased muscle mass in his shoulders and arms, the study states, and in addition to what doctors presumed was CTE he also suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

In the final months of his life, the man was admitted to a nursing home for dehydration, failure to thrive, progressive dysphagia, incontinence, progressive neck and limb weakness, and slurred speech, according to the study.

The man began playing football at 11 years old and continued until he retired from the league at 33, which placed his "cumulative lifetime risk exposure" at 22 years, according to the study.

While more research is needed to corroborate the result of the exam, the ability to identify CTE in the brain of a living patient is the first step toward understanding the development of the disease and developing a cure, the researchers said.

The findings from the study also confirmed that a "fingerprint" signature of CTE that was previously reported exists, according to the study.

One of the researchers, Julian Bailes, M.D., director of neurosurgery and co-director of NorthShore University HealthSystem Neurological Institute, told ABC News that his team was "pleased " with the study.

“The importance of this one today is that this is the first time to have a scan which shows brain degeneration of CTE in a living person and then to have that person die and it correlates with the autopsy,” Bailes said, adding it’s the first such case to his knowledge.

“We realize and always want to acknowledge that this is only one and more work needs to be done to verify the correlation,” he said, adding that for now the team is “very, very pleased.”

CTE is often found in athletes, military veterans and others with a "history of repetitive brain trauma," according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

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Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer win Cy Young Awards as MLB's best pitchers

Credit: Photos by Allen Kee / ESPN Images (NEW YORK) -- The Baseball Writers Association of America named Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber and Washington Nationals hurler Max Scherzer as their Cy Young Award winners, selecting the pair as the best pitchers in either league.

Both Kluber and Scherzer had won the award previously, Kluber claiming the trophy in 2014, and Scherzer having won in 2013 and 2016.

Kluber became the 19th pitcher to win at least two Cy Young Awards when he was named the American League's winner on Wednesday night. Scherzer, named National League winner shortly afterwards, became just the 10th pitcher to win at least three. Scherzer also became just the 11th pitcher to win consecutive Cy Young Awards.

The awards are voted on by two writers in each city represented by the league.

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Ezekiel Elliott to drop appeal of six-game suspension, will return December 24

Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(DALLAS) -- Star running back Ezekiel Elliott will drop his appeal of a six-game suspension related to accusations of domestic violence, representatives for the Dallas Cowboys second-year player said Wednesday.

The decision means Elliott will sit out the full six games and return to the team on December 24 against the Seattle Seahawks. A hearing for a potential preliminary injunction had been scheduled for December 1 before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but with the case unlikely to be resolved before the NFL's postseason, Elliott will serve the ban now and return in time for possible playoff games.

"In consultation with the NFLPA and his lawyers, and after a careful deliberation and review of recent Second Circuit decisions, Mr. Elliott has decided to forgo any further appeals and will serve his remaining suspension," a statement from Elliott's agents reads. "This decision arises from a practical assessment of the current legal landscape."

"Mr. Elliott's desire for closure is in his best interests, as well as the best interests of his teammates, family and friends," the statement added. "This decision is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing, and Mr. Elliott is pleased that the legal fight mounted by he and his team resulted in disclosing many hidden truths regarding this matter as well as publicly exposing the NFL's mismanagement of its disciplinary process."

Elliott has maintained his innocence throughout the process, which began in July 2016 when a former girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in Columbus, Ohio, where he went to college. Authorities in Ohio did not press charges against Elliott, but a 13-month NFL investigation ended in the league deciding it had "persuasive evidence" to impose a six-game suspension.

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Italy fires national team soccer coach Ventura after failure to earn World Cup berth

Thomas Northcut/DigitalVision/Thinkstock(ROME) -- The Italian Football Federation announced the firing of the head coach of the national soccer team on Wednesday after he failed to guide them to next summer's World Cup.

Italy lost to Sweden, 1-0 on aggregate, in a World Cup qualifying playoff earlier this week, marking the first time the team will miss a World Cup since 1958. As a result, on Wednesday, the IFF announced that Gian Piero Ventura would not return as the national team's head coach.

The search for a successor begins immediately, with the team's next match scheduled for March 27 -- a friendly against England.

Ventura coached the Italian team for 17 matches, winning ten, drawing four and losing three. ESPN noted that his tenure ends as rumors persist about disatisfaction among some of the more experienced players.

Italian news agency ANSA quoted Renzo Ulivieri, president of the Italian Coaches' Association, as saying before Wednesday's announcement that "not going to Russia is a problem, and we're not stupid enough not to realize that."

"In view of such a result, the whole system needs to be questioned," he added. "It would have been wrong [for Ventura] to resign in the heat of the moment -- it's always best to meet first."

ESPN named Carlo Ancelotti as one of the favorites to take the job. Ancelotti has coached for AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in his career. He was fired by Bayern Munich last month.

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