The NFL will help fund new research on the suspected link between sports-related concussions and long-term brain degeneration, the league announced Saturday in London.

An agreement with the London-based International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation will focus on retired jockeys, who suffer far greater rates of brain trauma than even football players. The agreement came during daylong talks convened by the NFL in London involving representatives of 15 sports leagues, including the NHL and World Rugby. The panel discussed a range of initiatives to identify, treat and prevent concussions.

Michael Turner, medical director of the Concussion Foundation, said the research starting in January would investigate the suspected link between concussions and the onset of an incurable brain degenerative disease called CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which can be definitively diagnosed only after death.

"Collaboration with the NFL will significantly accelerate the research we are doing with retired jockeys and help establish if there is any independent evidence that concussion has a long-term impact on health," Turner said.


Arrived: Steve Johnson, U.S. tennis player who advanced to his maiden ATP final by defeating Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 7-6 (4) at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. Johnson is ranked 47th in the world.

Said she's ready: Maria Sharapova, who said she's healthy enough to compete Sunday at the WTA Finals in Singapore though she hasn't played a whole match since Wimbledon.

Waffled: Alex Morgan, women's soccer star who refused to confirm Saturday that she is on the verge of joining the National Women's Soccer League's new expansion team in Orlando.

Figure Skating

15-year-old Russian wins Skate America

Russian world junior champion Evgenia Medvedeva won Skate America in Milwaukee, edging U.S. Olympian Gracie Gold in her first Grand Prix Series event.

Medvedeva, 15, fell on a double Axel combination but added double toe loops to rally. She finished with 206.01 points.

Gold scored 202.80. World silver medalist Satoko Miyahara of Japan was third with 188.07 points.

Auto racing

Weather disrupts F1 race in Texas

Lewis Hamilton slipped and skidded around the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, then retreated to wait for what he hopes will be a final charge to the Formula One championship at the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton posted the fastest time in Saturday's final practice session, before torrential rain caused officials to take the rare step of postponing qualifying until Sunday morning, before the afternoon race.


Ko leads, moves in on top ranking

Lydia Ko shot a 5-under 67 and took a four-stroke lead in the LPGA Taiwan Championship, putting the 18-year-old New Zealander in position to regain the top spot in the world ranking.

She would jump from second to first in the world with a victory or second-place finish Sunday.

Ko had a 13-under 203 total.

Stegmaier keeps lead in PGA Tour event

Brett Stegmaier birdied the final hole for a 3-under 68 and a one-stroke lead in the PGA Tour's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. He's at 13-under 68, just ahead of Morgan Hoffman (66 Saturday).


Women's tennis: Svetlana Kuznetsova swept aside Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-1 to win the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

Men's tennis: American Jack Sock reached his second ATP tour final of the season by beating second-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2 at the Stockholm Open. He will play defending champion Tomas Berdych in Sunday's final, after Berdych advanced when Marcos Baghdatis retired with a right groin injury.

Truck racing: Timothy Peters won the Truck Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the second consecutive year, taking the lead on a restart after the race was stopped for 15 minutes to clean up debris after a crash.

College basketball: Arizona freshman Ray Smith, recruited as one of the nation's top small forwards, will not play this season after tearing his right ACL in practice.


12Cristiano Ronaldo made it a dozen Saturday, scoring his 12th goal in as many Spanish League games to help Real Madrid beat Celta Vigo 3-1.