Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 10 No. 22

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Omega Pharma-Quick-Step pro cycling team billionaire sponsor Zdenek Bakala, who sponsors cyclist Mark Cavendish's new team, is "poised to invest more than €20M ($25M) in the restructuring of European cycling based on a Champions League model," according to Jeremy Whittle of the LONDON TIMES. The Czech entrepreneur who made his fortune in coal mining, "announced his plans to transform cycling" by '16 in a press briefing in Brussels, Belgium behind the Manifesto for Credible Cycling. Discussions between Bakala and many of cycling’s leading teams "have been going on for about nine months and were initiated before the Lance Armstrong scandal plunged the European professional cycling scene into crisis" (LONDON TIMES, 11/12).

CYCLING WEEKLY's Gregor Brown reported that Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed that it "signed an initial agreement with private investors" to begin a new pro cycling league." Bakala, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, has "joined with eight to nine teams," including Omega Pharma, BMC Racing, Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale. He has "won over" UCI President Pat McQuaid, former UCI President Hein Verbruggen and former ProTour Manager Alain Rumpf. The UCI "confirmed it signed a Memorandum of Understanding" with Bakala and Dutch businessman Bessel Kok and is entering into "extensive dialogue with the teams and race organisers" (CYCLING WEEKLY, 11/12). VELO NEWS' Neal Rogers reported that while the UCI acknowledged discussions with Bakala and Kok are in place, the federation stated that no agreement has been reached on reforms to the pro road calendar, “and as such, any media reports about the future of the calendar are pure speculation at this stage.” The UCI said it would retain full control over a potential new race calendar, including “sporting and technical elements” (VELO NEWS, 11/10).'s Simon MacMichael reported that Bakala acknowledged that to date "no discussions had been held" with Tour de France organizer ASO. No discussions have taken place with other major races including Paris-Nice, Paris Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which also owns a significant stake in the Vuelta, or RCS Sport, which owns the Giro d’Italia, Milan-San Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro di Lombardia, among others (, 11/11).

World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey said that "sports is struggling with cheating," and "drugmakers must do more to help authorities stop dopers," according to Torsoli & Rossingh of BLOOMBERG. Fahey told reporters during a press conference in Paris Monday: "We are getting better, but doping is still out there, and more than I wish it was." He added that sports "isn't cleaner" after the Armstrong case. Fahey said that "large drugmakers and smaller biotechnology companies need to get more involved to help find ways to stop athletes from improperly using medicines to cheat" (BLOOMBERG, 11/12).

F1 management is “considering creating an American version of GP2 or GP3 in order to drive popularity of the sport in the U.S.," which this weekend hosts its first F1 race in five years, according to Reid & Sylt of ESPN F1. Company documents show that it has “the working title of the 'Americas Series' and, if given the green light, will feature races in the U.S., Canada and Brazil.” The aim is “to stimulate the development of grassroots motorsports in these countries and generate publicity for F1, so that it eventually attracts more local drivers.” There are “no American drivers currently competing in the sport.” F1 documents show that “management believes that it will eventually be able to develop its business in North and South America to a level comparable with that in its traditional European base.” A GP2 Asia winter series “was launched in '08, but its last season was in '11.” Since GP2 launched in ‘05 it “has been a major success story in producing F1 talent” (, 11/12).

New Zealand's National Basketball League has been boosted by the "reintroduction of two major teams," according to Kris Shannon of the APNZ. The Auckland Pirates and Waikato Pistons will "take their place in next season's competition," with the Pirates' inclusion "coming mere days after Basketball Auckland announced the team's withdrawal." The NBL was at risk of facing a season without teams in three of the country's four biggest cities. Now, with the Pistons back after a year in exile, due to financial reasons, "next season's competition is suddenly shaping as the strongest in recent years." Off the court, however, Basketball Auckland "raised serious questions about the league's financial model when it withdrew the defending champion Pirates." Basketball Auckland Chair Chris Ford hinted at potential backers "coming out of the woodwork" when the withdrawal was made public. His prediction has proven true, with NBL Chair Sam Rossiter-Stead confirming the Pirates "have moved away from Basketball Auckland and will operate independently under new ownership" (APNZ, 11/11).

NFL China Managing Dir Richard Young said that the NFL is "enjoying rapid growth in China, but it will not stage a game there until the fan base reaches a tipping point to avoid damaging its brand equity," according to REUTERS. Rated by Forbes as the world's richest professional sports league, the NFL is still "playing catch-up in China." Young conceded that the league had "dropped the ball by getting there late," but stated he is "comfortable with the growth in popularity of American football across China's major cities." Young added that the NFL had not been "proactive enough when it first looked at developing the game overseas and particularly in China, though it had since ramped up its efforts." Young said, "What would we do differently? Start earlier" (REUTERS, 11/10).