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Volume 10 No. 22

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Shortly after releasing a report detailing rampant drug use and match-fixing across all codes, the Australian Crime Commission "found itself under siege as some of the nation's most prominent sporting identities called on the organisation to back up its claims," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. After the initial shock of the ACC's announcement wore off, "anger became the overriding emotion as the respective sports railed against the tarring of entire codes and athletes." National Rugby League Penrith GM of Football Phil Gould appeared on the Nine Network to "air his concerns." Gould said, "This report from the Crime Commission is full of words like 'may be, could be, suspected and potential.' Nobody has been named, no club has been named and no sport has been named. It's a broad-brush condemnation of Australian sport everywhere." The day culminated in seven-time premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett "voicing his displeasure at the ACC's handling of the matter." Bennett: "The game is not at fault here -- it's the agencies who started it all (Thursday) and went so public. I don't believe sport has ever been as clean as it is now across all our codes. The allegations didn't come as a shock. What came as a shock was the way we handled it. I just think we handled it very, very badly" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/9).

AFL SEEKS NAMES: In Melbourne, Caroline Wilson reported at least seven Australian Football League clubs were named in a confidential briefing to competition chiefs by the ACC as "being vulnerable to illicit drugs." As many as nine AFL clubs have been found by the ACC "to be vulnerable to illicit drug activity and therefore vulnerable to organised crime activity." One of those is Collingwood, whose CEO, Gary Pert, alerted the competition to a ''volcanic'' drug problem in the game late last year (THE AGE, 2/11). Also in Melbourne, Windley & Gullan reported the AFL has sought permission from the ACC to "reveal currently classified details" from the report. The league said that it was "still negotiating with the ACC over what could be released, to whom, and with what conditions" (HERALD SUN, 2/11). In Sydney, Greg Denham reported the AFL has "confirmed a second club is the subject of investigations" into the use of performance-enhancing drugs, but "declined to name the player involved." The AFL confirmed that Essendon was the club with "potential multiple performance-enhancing drug usage," but declined to name one player from another club identified in the ACC's report. It "is not clear" whether the individual at the second club is on a roster this season (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/11).

BLOOMBERG's Angus Whitley reported Australian PM Julia Gillard "called on sports clubs to disclose any use of banned drugs." Gillard: "Come clean. For clubs that have had problems, it's better off to step forward and be very clear about them" (BLOOMBERG, 2/10). In Melbourne, Murnane & Wilson reported the AFL Players Association will "seek clarification amid concerns that some of its players may have been the direct targets" of phone tapping from the ACC. Justice Minister Jason Clare revealed Sunday that AFL players "might have had their phones tapped" as part of the ACC's investigation. AFLPA CEO Matt Finnis said that he was "not aware of any AFL players being the direct target of phone taps, and would seek clarification" (THE AGE, 2/11). In Melbourne, Samantha Lane reported the ACC is urging domestic sporting code to "enact a landmark rule change that could imprison athletes who lie about doping for up to five years." The Australian Olympic Committee's move, which is "believed to be a world first," would make it mandatory for all future Australian Olympians to "sign a statutory declaration about doping." IOC President Jacques Rogge said that the reform "could be a template" for organizations like the AFL and NRL which have "never demanded athletes declare their doping histories -- with legal implications -- as a condition of competing." AOC President John Coates said, "I would encourage them to look at what we've done, even down at a club level" (THE AGE, 2/9).

NRL WAITS, WORRIES: In Sydney, Brad Walter reported several NRL players are "living in fear" as they wait to learn if they have been caught up in the doping scandal. A number of players, including at least one "big name," are worried they might have taken a banned substance and are "bracing themselves for the fallout" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/11). Also in Sydney, Margie McDonald reported NRL clubs "will know within 24 hours whether they are among the six being investigated," and it will be "up to them to decide whether they go public." The NRL expects to have a framework established by Tuesday so clubs can "be fed intelligence information" gathered by the ACC, mainly through telephone taps (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/11). The AAP reported ACC CEO John Lawler said that he was working with the individual codes to "work out if there was a way for full disclosure to take place." Lawler said that he was "sympathetic to clubs and players that were in the right," but the purpose of the report was intended to be an "alert" to improve safeguards against drug-taking -- a point that he felt "had been missed." It also served as "a trigger for players, coaches and individuals to come forward" (AAP, 2/11).

SCIENTIST SUES: In Sydney, Shand & McDonald reported the man at the center of the scandal, sports scientist Stephen Dank, is launching a A$10M ($10.3M) defamation suit alleging media outlets "have wrongly accused him" of selling illegal performance-enhancing drugs to footballers. Dank's lawyer, Greg Stanton, confirmed he was launching the legal action (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/11).

The fair trade regulator competition commission said that the Indian cricket board "indulged in anti-competitive practices and slapped a penalty" of Rs 52.24 crore ($9.7M) on it, according to the PTI. Claiming that the Board of Control for Cricket in India "abused its dominant position, the competition commission directed it to 'cease and desist' from any practice in future denying market access to potential competitors, including inclusion of similar clauses in any future agreement." The complainant "had alleged irregularities" in the granting of franchise rights for team ownership, media rights and awarding of sponsorship rights. Noting that BCCI's economic power is enormous "as a regulator that enables it to pick winners," the regulator said that the cricket board has gained tremendously in financial terms from the Indian Premier League cricket format. The order said, "Virtually, there is no other competitor in the market nor was anyone allowed to emerge due to BCCI's strategy of monopolizing the entire market" (PTI, 2/8).

FIFA’s adviser on ethics and transparency Mark Pieth accused UEFA of "trying to water down his reform agenda," and said that British and German leaders of the sport "were compromising their once high-minded stance on corruption," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Pieth, appointed by FIFA President Sepp Blatter to help clean up the world governing body’s sullied reputation in the wake of bribery and corruption allegations, said that UEFA members "were backtracking on recommendations such as limits to terms of office and integrity checks on nominations for senior FIFA posts." FIFA’s ethics advisory panel, the Independent Governance Committee, "issued a progress report on Friday in which it reiterated the need for these and other recommendations to be adopted." Committee Chair Pieth said he was "not happy with UEFA." Pieth pointed the finger at Britain and Germany -- both of which had "previously been in the forefront of the international clamour for FIFA reform" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/8).

BLATTER FIRES BACK: REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Blatter "took a swipe" at UEFA for what he said "were attempts to block his reform process" to make FIFA "more transparent and less prone to corruption." UEFA rejected a proposal to limit FIFA exec committee members to two four-year mandates and "called for the FIFA president to serve a maximum of 12 years instead of the eight put forward by the IGC." Blatter said that it was UEFA's job "to consult" its national associations, not to issue their "own declaration on the proposals." Blatter said, "And I'm surprised because it did not seem like a consultation, it seemed like was decision-making from UEFA where the national associations have signed a declaration against this." Blatter "was also angry that UEFA appeared to take a stand against security checks FIFA wants to introduce for anyone being elected to the executive committee, following a series of high-profile scandals involving FIFA officials." All the referees and linesmen on the FIFA list "have to have one and sign a document which is recognised by their national association." Blatter said, "So if it is good enough for FIFA referees, why should it not be the same for the FIFA executive committee and all the members of FIFA?" (REUTERS, 2/10). The AP reported Blatter expressed his surprise Sunday at public criticism of football's governing body by its own anti-corruption advisers and said that "they were sometimes working outside their mandate." Blatter said, "From time to time I realized that it is a deviation of the original objective and they are not coming with solutions, not recommendations, they are coming with decisions that we have (to take) ... and we must. But that is not what we have asked for. We have asked to give us solutions and we bring these solutions to the (FIFA) Congress" (AP, 2/10).

The Pakistan Cricket Board "was forced to postpone the Pakistan Super League T20" since several boards refused to give No Objection Certificates to their players for the cricket tournament, according to the PTI. The PCB had signed Memorandum of Understandings with several foreign players, but boards from the West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland "were the only one to issue NOCs to their respective players." A source said, "It is a fact that the PCB had signed MOUs with around 70 to 80 players from different countries including South Africa, England, Australia, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand for the PSL." The source added: "But when the board started to approach the concerned boards to issue NOCs to play in the PSL they didn't get a very good response and were downright disappointed. Only the West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland had given positive response to the PCB request" (PTI, 2/10).

PLAYERS FRUSTRATED: The PTI wrote the "sudden decision" to postpone the league "has left many players, who were stopped from playing in the Bangladesh Premier League, disappointed and upset." The PCB did not issue NOCs to around three dozen Pakistani players, "many of them notable names," in January to play in the BPL after franchises bought them "for handsome amounts in the players auction" for the league's second edition. A player said, "Now what will happen to our lost earnings? We were hoping that we will be compensated through the PSL, but now only god knows when it will be organized." The players who were not allowed to go for the BPL "lost out on earnings ranging from $280,000 to $300,000" (PTI, 2/9). The PTI reported the PCB will give a presentation to the Int'l Cricket Council and its member boards "soon on the measures taken by it" since the '09 attack on the Sri Lankan team "in a bid to impress on the other countries that security situation has improved int he country." A board member said that the PCB has hired an Army colonel who is with the Inter Services Intelligence and is a counter terrorism expert "to prepare the security brief for the ICC" and its member boards. The source said that Colonel Azam "had been given the task of working with the vigilance and security wing to prepare a comprehensive security plan for presentation" to the ICC and member boards (PTI, 2/10).

PUTTING ITS FOOT DOWN: The PTI noted Pakistan "has objected to the use of Hot Spot ball tracking technology" as well as to the appointment of umpire Steve Davis in the ongoing Test series in South Africa. The PCB has written a letter to the ICC outlining its "objection to the use of the Hot Spot technology in the first Test against South Africa." Davis was the third umpire in the First Test in Johannesburg, "and many of the referral decisions went against Pakistan (PTI, 2/10).

Qatar "has set up a new committee with wide powers to organise and monitor Qatari sports clubs to improve their performance and professionalism," according to THE PENINSULA. The decision is a step in Qatar’s preparations to host the FIFA World Cup in '22 and Doha’s plans to make a fresh bid for the Olympic Games in '24. The panel "has been given judicial powers to investigate complaints related to sports clubs, monitoring their performance and to take decisions even to dissolve a club and close down its headquarters." The panel will be chaired by Qatar Olympic Committee Secretary General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Meshaal Nasser Al Khalifa is the vice chairman. Khalil Ibrahim Al Jaber, Mohammad Saad Al Moghaisab and Ali Mohammad, Al Tamimi are the other members. The committee "will be responsible for licensing and relocation of sports clubs." It "will also decide on grievances related to the clubs." The committee "has been authorised to decide on the merger of sports clubs or to dissolve a club and set up a temporary board of directors." It also "has the powers to disband the board of directors of any sports club and appoint a temporary board of directors, in line with the provisions of the law" (THE PENINSULA, 2/10).

The Scottish FA "is suing" former Rangers Owner Craig Whyte over a £200,000 ($316,000) unpaid fine "for bringing the game into disrepute," after ignoring requests to pay for the last 10 months, according to the SCOTSMAN. Scottish football chiefs "have confirmed that a writ has been served after a string of warnings issued to the tycoon went unheeded for 10 months, and football chiefs will now go through the courts to seek payment." The Motherwell-born businessman has previously refused to pay the fine, branding it "a joke," and saying he would seek legal advice over what he called the SFA’s "defamatory statements." The SFA confirmed that the writ "had been served" to Whyte but refused to comment further (SCOTSMAN, 2/10).