U.S. CAN KEEP TESTS: Federal investigators can keep using the names and urine samples of about 100 major leaguers who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

After agreeing to reconsider its own December 2006 ruling granting access to the evidence, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to affirm two parts of its decision in three consolidated cases, which overturned rulings by U.S. District Judges Susan Illston in San Francisco and James Mahan in Las Vegas that barred authorities from accessing the names.

Access to the names could bolster the perjury case against Barry Bonds, who is charged with lying to a grand jury about whether he used steroids.

CANO, YANKEES CLOSE: Robinson Cano and the New York Yankees were nearing agreement Thursday on a $30 million, four-year contract, a departure from the team's stance against giving multiyear contracts to young players. Cano's deal would include two option years, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The 25-year-old second baseman, eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, could become a free agent after the 2012 season. In other action, the Dodgers hired longtime major league infielder Jose Vizcaino as a special assistant Thursday ... Rod Barajas joined the Toronto Blue Jays a season later than expected. The catcher agreed to a $1.2 million, one-year contract Thursday with an option for 2009.


U.S. ROSTER NAMED: Veterans Landon Donovan and Taylor Twellman were among 21 players called to training camp by U.S. national coach Bob Bradley. The camp will be in preparation for a Feb. 6 match with archrival Mexico in Houston. All 21 players on the Carson roster trained in early January before the Americans beat Sweden 2-0 in an exhibition game.

Auto racing

MONTE CARLO RALLY: Four-time world champion Sebastien Loeb of France took the lead Thursday in the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally. Loeb, looking for a record fifth Monte Carlo title, won the second stage to take a 12.7-second lead over Citroen teammate Dani Sordo, the first-stage winner. The four-day rally continues through Sunday.

Figure skating

BELBIN-AGOSTO LEAD: Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto took a big step toward a record-tying fifth title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday, winning the original dance. But Agosto was annoyed when he came off the ice, unhappy with himself for an obvious footwork error at the end of the program. Belbin and Agosto still earned the highest score for the original dance, 64.29. With a total score of 106.15, they're almost three points ahead of training partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White going into the free dance Saturday.