SBD/Issue 87/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • NFL, NFLPA Reach Agreement On Tougher Drug-Testing Policy

    Goodell Says League Is Ahead
    Of The Pack On Drug Testing
    The NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to a series of modifications to their drug-testing policy and program on anabolic steroids and related substances, including the addition of EPO to the banned substance list. The deal, effective immediately, also calls for an increase in the number of players randomly tested each week during the preseason, regular season and postseason from seven to ten per team. The number of offseason tests was increased from a maximum of two per player to six. Players suspended for violating the steroid or substance abuse policy will now forfeit a prorated portion of their signing bonus in addition to their base salary. The league also committed at least $500,000 in grant aid to the UCLA Olympic testing lab towards the development of new HGH testing measures, as well as a $1.2M grant to help stop steroid use in high schools (NFL). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “The NFL is ahead of the pack on this, and going after the players’ bonuses sends a powerful message” (USA TODAY, 1/25). In N.Y., Hank Gola notes the NFL will be the first pro U.S. league to regularly test for EPO (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/25). NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw said that as soon as next season, players who test positive “could also be barred from consideration for postseason awards” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/25).

    REAX FROM ANTI-DOPING COMMUNITY: In Charlotte, Charles Chandler reports in a front-page piece that the league “made no commitment to participate in HGH blood tests if they become available later this year as expected” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/25). While WADA member Gary Wadler praised the changes, he believes there should be a provision allowing for blood samples to be frozen until a reliable HGH test is developed. But Upshaw said, “What use would it be for you to find something out two or three years from now and we’ve already played games? We have 25[%] turnover each year. What good is that? It’s almost like changing the speed-limit sign after you’ve passed” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/25). Penn State Univ.’s Charles Yesalis said that the enhancements “won’t mean much until the NFL contracts with an outside agency to create a transparent testing system.” Yesalis: “We only know about the positive tests we’re allowed to know about. ... Until that changes, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the other moves they make.” Yesalis added the $500,000 grant for an improved HGH test is “unbelievably inadequate” (Baltimore SUN, 1/25). WADA Chair Dick Pound: “Four games for steroids. Frankly, that is not serious.” Upshaw responded, “The record speaks volumes about what we have done in the NFL. We also have a union that protects and defends our players, which is what is (lacking) in the Pound arena” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/25).

    Bruener Does Not Believe NFL
    Has Problem With Illegal Substances
    REAX FROM THE HILL: U.S. House Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, “I am encouraged that the NFL is taking additional steps. I think more needs to be done to discourage the use of [HGH], and I look forward to continuing to work with the NFL and other sports leagues on that issue.” Ranking minority member Tom Davis (R-VA) said, “These changes show what sports leagues and their players’ associations can accomplish when they set their minds to eradicating steroids from their sports” (Mult., 1/25).

    PLAYER REAX: Patriots LB and union rep Don Davis said, “The NFL players wanted the steroids out of the league. That was our goal 10 years ago, and we’re still going strong now” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/25). Colts DE Dwight Freeney, who was randomly tested yesterday, said, “Whenever you can catch some cheaters, it makes my job easier. ... Anything you can do for the integrity of this game is good” (USA TODAY, 1/25). Texans TE and union rep Mark Bruener “doesn’t believe the league has a problem with illegal supplements,” but he said, “In professional sports, one headline about a player in a negative light paints a broad stroke. That can be unfair to the other players, but that's how it is. So with these new policies, we can be proactive in working toward a drug-free league” (USA TODAY, 1/25).

    Print | Tags: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Leagues and Governing Bodies, New England Patriots, NFL
  • Did PGA Tour Cost The International Lucrative Title Sponsor?

    Source Says Int’l Had Deal
    With Sponsor To Up Purse To $10M
    Jack Vickers, Founder of the PGA Tour’s International, negotiated a deal last year “with a corporate sponsor that would have raised the International’s purse to an unprecedented $10[M],” according to Tim Rosaforte of GOLF WORLD. However, sources said that the PGA Tour was “uncomfortable with the amount, stall[ing] Vickers long enough that he lost the contract.” The tournament remains without a title sponsor. A PGA Tour official “disputes the story, claiming the title sponsor deal was only discussed, never finalized.” The official said, “Overall (the deal) would have (cost about) $20[M] a year. There’s not a company out there that could commit to that level of sponsorship.” Rosaforte noted a press conference scheduled for January 17 with the Tour and International officials “was abruptly canceled, but sources say it would have dealt with the tournament’s unhappiness with its new date.” The tourney will be held July 5-8, a move up in the schedule from its traditional date in late July or early August (GOLF WORLD, 1/26 issue). In Boulder, Gary Baines reported tournament officials are negotiating “with a potential title sponsor,” with an announcement coming soon “regarding whether the tournament will go forward.” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem “had a hand in bringing the parties together” (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 1/24).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, PGA Tour
  • Roush Declares “War” On Toyota As He Nears Deal With FSG

    Roush Feels Toyota Could Have Negative
    Impact On Financial Landscape Of NASCAR

    Roush Racing Owner Jack Roush is “worried [that Toyota] will outspend everybody and change the financial landscape” for NASCAR teams and sponsors, according to Richard Durrett of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Roush: “We’re going to war with them.” Roush noted that he joined engine programs with fellow Ford team Robert Yates Racing in ‘04 “to prepare for Toyota, Honda or any other manufacturer that might ‘buy their way into the sport.’” Roush said that if Toyota teams “offered to double” his drivers’ salaries, he would “have difficulty keeping them.” He said 90% of his funding comes from sponsors and prize money and 10% from the manufacturer, and if Toyota “contributes 50[%] to its team — a figure Toyota has adamantly denied — it could force Ford, Chevy and Dodge to support fewer teams rather than try to keep up with Toyota” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/25).

    RED SOX EFFECT: Roush is in negotiations to sell 25-50% of his team to Red Sox Owner John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group (FSG), and he said that the “infusion of cash would help Roush Racing compete with the arrival of Toyota.” Roush added that the partnership with FSG would give NASCAR and his sponsors “a greater presence” in the Northeast (N.Y. TIMES, 1/25). Roush: “Part of the reason I’m doing it is so we can stand the pressure of having a round of negotiations with sponsors that may not be rich enough to cover everything we’re spending (and) to negotiate with our drivers in the face of offers” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/25). USA TODAY’s Ryan & Livingstone note Roush has “committed to invest an extra” $10M in his Nextel Cup teams (USA TODAY, 1/25).

    OTHERS NOT TOO WORRIED: Toyota Motorsports USA National Motorsports Manager Les Unger said of Roush’s comments on the company’s spending on its NASCAR teams, “We have been interested in what the other manufacturers are spending and have been trying to gauge those numbers, but they’re impossible to get. Therefore, I don’t know how people can claim that Toyota is outspending the competition without knowing what the other manufacturers spend.” Nextel Cup team owner Rick Hendrick added, “I don’t see Toyota being any more a threat than any of the other teams” (USA TODAY, 1/25). Team owner Joe Gibbs: “It will be good for our sport. We thrive on competition” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/25). ESPN’s Tim Cowlishaw noted Roush “didn’t have a problem with money being an issue when he had five drivers in the Chase two years ago, when Roush Racing had more money ... than just about all the race teams in the Nextel Cup circuit. Now all of a sudden money’s an issue because Toyota’s coming in? ... These were pretty ill-advised comments by Jack Roush” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 1/25).

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, DaimlerChrysler, ESPN, Honda, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NASCAR, Nextel, Toyota, Walt Disney
  • Reyna Becomes Second Big-Name Player To Join MLS This Month

    MLS Red Bulls
    Officially Sign Reyna
    Former U.S. national team MF Claudio Reyna officially joined the MLS Red Bulls yesterday, “filling one of the team’s two designated player spots,” according to Lisa Kennelly of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Contract terms were not disclosed, but Reyna “acknowledged it was a multiyear deal.” Reyna is the “second big-name star to join MLS this month,” after Real Madrid MF David Beckham signed a five-year deal with the Galaxy. Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena said, “The addition of Beckham and Reyna into this league is an incredible infusion of talent” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/25).

    BECKS EFFECT: Fire President & CEO John Guppy said that the team “likely will play host” to the Beckham-led Galaxy at Toyota Park in September or October. In the two weeks after the Beckham announcement, the team renewed 30% of its season-ticket holders and sold over 200 new packages (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/24).

    ALL-STAR GAME: Scottish Premier League club Celtic FC will play the MLS All-Star team this summer at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the Rapids’ new stadium opening this season. The event will “likely to take place in late July or early August” (DENVER POST, 1/25).

    Print | Tags: AEG, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Dallas Stars, Dicks Sporting Goods, English Premier League, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New York Red Bulls, Southwest Sports Group, Toyota
  • Columnists Sound Off On NHL All-Star Festivities

    American Airlines Center, which hosted this week’s NHL All-Star festivities, “wasn’t packed for Tuesday’s skills competition,” and the “late-arriving crowd” for last night’s All-Star Game “didn’t feel much different ... than a regular-season Stars crowd,” according to Jean-Jacques Taylor of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB for years “formed the big four of professional sports,” but Taylor writes, “Now, I’m not really sure where hockey fits into the mix. It’s certainly behind the other three sports, but it’s also behind college football and basketball, golf and NASCAR. And it will stay that way unless [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman makes some significant changes” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/25).

    SCHEDULE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, on not changing the unbalanced schedule: “We’re in the middle of a three-year rotation and to force the change before we finish the cycle probably would be unfair to some of the teams. So the notion is we have one more year of this and then we’ll make whatever change everybody’s comfortable with” (“Mike and the Mad Dog,” YES Network, 1/24).

    Some Criticize Bettman After
    BOG’s Scheduling Vote
    BETTMAN TO BLAME? In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch writes what frustrated “most everybody” about the NHL governors rejecting changes to the schedule this week “was the lack of leadership shown by Bettman after two-thirds of the 30 governors agreed change was needed, then stayed within the status quo.” When the governors fail twice “on a resolution to produce a schedule that fans can embrace, you have to question Bettman’s leadership” (OTTAWA SUN, 1/25). In Ft. Worth, Jim Reeves writes Bettman is “supposed to be the commissioner for the entire league, not just 11 provincial thinking owners concerned with only their own interests. He needs to act in the best interests of the league, not just a few teams” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/25). But in Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes, “This time, it’s not really his fault.” Bettman “works at the pleasure of his employees, the club owners, and ... they call the shots.” The success or failure of Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello — who voted against the changes –- are “based on selling tickets, sponsorship and local television, not on whether the [Blue Jackets] struggle or thrive” (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/25).

    MINORITY REPORT: Bettman, “opening a luncheon this week on diversity in hockey, proudly made note of 39 cities offering inner-city programs with the help of the league.” But he said that he is “not satisfied with the number of minorities in the NHL — currently 31,” or about 5% of all players (AP, 1/25).

    Print | Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NASCAR, NBA, New Jersey Devils, NFL, NHL, Southwest Sports Group, YankeeNets
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