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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Formula E is expected to debut in ’14 and hopes to change the perception of electric cars, which have a stigma of being impractical, slow and only a limited range, but so far the pitch isn't working on the F1 circuit's big boss. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone seems skeptical of motorsports governing body FIA’s new all-electric racing series and called it “a bit of a joke.” Ecclestone reckons that Formula E is politically driven by people who “thought they ought to do something in motorsports.” So, how do you attract the average motorsports fan who loves the roar of a powerful engine and the distinctive smell of burning gasoline to watch, as Ecclestone described it, a “little car, which doesn’t make any noise?” One way is to use a veteran racecar manufacturer such as McLaren to provide the drivetrain and electronics for the new series. McLaren Racing Managing Dir Jonathan Neale said, “I think it’s a great opportunity for McLaren Electronics to use a lot of the know-how that we have. To have high-performance electric vehicles racing in city centers will attract a lot of people. It will entice people to look at racing and the high technology aspects and see what great leverage there is for racing pushing relevant technologies.”

KEEPING THE F1 FEEL: Formula E cars will look very similar to the single-seat, open-wheel F1 cars. The similarity between Formula E and F1 could become the new racing series’ downfall, as F1 is “moving to be a much more energy constraint series,” Neale said. “We move from V8 to V6 technology next year, direct injected, turbo charged and with a much more powerful energy recovery and energy storage system, which is much more relevant to the automotive manufacturers. We will continue to push in that direction, we will be limited on the amount of fuel flow that can happen.” While Neale does not see Formula E as a competitor to F1 in the short term, he said he sees “the nature of Formula E and the direction that Formula One is going as congruent.” Formula E is still a work and progress and nothing has been firmed up yet, however, the series has already two confirmed host cities, Rio de Janeiro and Rome, as well as one confirmed team, Drayson Racing. Lotus F1 Team Principal Éric Boullier said that it is too early to make any predictions, but “being involved in my previous life in many different racing series, I didn’t see many of them surviving, so let’s wait and see." Meanwhile, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag did not respond to requests for comment on Ecclestone's remarks or the latest plans for the series.

Indian boxers "may swing back into action soon" with the Int'l Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) "showing signs of relenting to requests from the country's Olympic bosses that the players' future should not be harmed," according to Narayan Swamy of the TIMES OF INDIA. A teleconference held between IOC member in India Randhir Singh and AIBA President Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu on Tuesday "has paved the way for the boxers to return to mainstream." Wu apparently "agreed that boxers could not be held responsible for the Indian federation's faults." He reportedly assured Randhir that "he would take steps to reverse the ban." Randhir "will officially seek a rollback of the January decision, which slammed the door on Indian boxers and coaches from global meets" (TIMES OF INDIA, 2/20). REUTERS' Sudipto Ganguly reported the AIBA "suspended the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation in early December for 'possible manipulation' of its elections, in the wake of a wider Olympic ban that has sent shockwaves through sport in the South Asian country." Indian Bronze Medal middleweight Vijender Singh, whose helped raise boxing's profile in India, "was glad to hear news of a development." Vijender said, "We never stopped training, hoping there will be some solution some day" (REUTERS, 2/20).

Asian Football Confederation acting President Zhang Jilong warned that "the 'cancer' of football match-fixing is a pandemic, which is too big for one organisation to tackle alone," as the regional body and INTERPOL kicked off a two-day seminar on the issue Wednesday, according to Siva Sithraputhran of REUTERS. Zhang said that "cooperation was required to tackle the problem." He said, "We are ready to work hand in hand to eradicate this cancer from the game. Match-fixing is too complicated and widespread for one organization to fight it alone. No continent is now left untouched by this disease. Match-fixing is now a pandemic in the world football" (REUTERS, 2/20).

Australian Rugby League Commission Chair John Grant "praised the way" new CEO Dave Smith "has handled the code's reaction to the drug and match-fixing scandal that has enveloped Australian sport," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Grant said that "the game will do whatever it can to support" any National Rugby League side damaged by the saga. Grant also endorsed the sport's drug-testing regime and revealed that "the game had planned to set up an integrity unit long before the recent dramas." The Australian Crime Commission report has taken its toll on the clubs. Cronulla "has been among the hardest hit." The Sharks "lost a potential ground sponsor and appear likely to enter the season without a major or sleeve sponsor," costing the club upwards of A$1M ($1.03M). Asked whether the commission could dip into its cash reserves to help clubs, Grant said that "it would do whatever was necessary to ensure they were sustainable." He said, "I think that applies irrespective of this issue or any other issue" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/21).

The first row of the new F1 season "did not take long coming," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. The covers "had only just been pulled" from the Williams FW35 car -- the last of the new cars to be unveiled for the '13 season -- when "it was promptly declared illegal" by motorsports governing body FIA. Caterham followed with a warning that it, too, was "breaking the rules as teams lined up at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya for the first day of the second official preseason test." Teams almost "expect a run-in of some kind with the FIA in these weeks of the phoney war before the first grand prix of the year as their highly-paid engineers seek ways to exploit the rules to the limits and beyond." Both teams "were in trouble for the design of their new exhaust systems." Williams issued a statement: "The team spoke with the FIA [Tuesday] morning, which is when they gave us their view. The team are now seeking further clarification on this and a decision as to whether this design will be carried forward will be made before the first race." Caterham’s statement added: "We are continuing to evaluate a range of options at the preseason tests as per our normal program" (LONDON TIMES, 2/19).