A proposed deal between Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and Australian Football League side Essendon "was aborted following protests" from lawyers acting for ASADA and National Rugby League side Cronulla, according to Roy Masters of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The proposed deal would allow Bombers players to "escape doping sanctions with zero penalty, while Cronulla players would be given a minimum six-month ban." The very same day that Australian Rugby League Commision CEO Dave Smith, "learnt of a proposed preferential deal to his main competitor," he raised it with PM Julia Gillard at a pre-arranged meeting in Sydney. While Smith is now confident any discriminatory deals are off the table, "the AFL can be expected to be frustrated that 45 players from one of its most prominent clubs may be suspended for the season." ASADA Senior Counsel John Marshall, "denied such a deal would be possible but the following day provided advice to Cronulla's legal team, led by Trish Kavanagh, that this was not the case." He "was so chagrined by the revelation of a possible zero sanction to Essendon," he told Cronulla counsel that "he was withdrawing from representing ASADA, for whom he had acted for 20 years." Lawyers acting for the Sharks "are furious because the settlement could have seen the players back on the field by September." Now, however, the players are acting individually with their own lawyers, "ruling out any prompt, joint resolution" (SMH, 3/28).
GOING TO COURT: THE AGE reported sports scientist Stephen Dank "is taking NRL club Cronulla to court over allegations Sharks players were injected with horse drugs." Dank has filed a statement of claim in the New South Wales Supreme Court claiming former Cronulla Chair Damian Irvine made defamatory statements about him "to the effect that he injected Sharks players with horse drugs" (THE AGE, 3/28). In Sydney, Stuart Honeysett wrote a photograph taken by Cronulla officials of a vial marked "For Equine Use Only" during Dank's time at the Sharks "could be used as part of the club's legal defence" after the sports scientist Wednesday initiated action for defamation. A player "questioned what equine meant after a substance was administered to him" in '11 (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/28).
The Indian state of Kerala government Wednesday "offered full support" to the Kerala Cricket Association if the need arose to stage matches at Kochi for the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League that begins April 3, according to IANS. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said, "The KCA had approached us that there could arise a probability wherein Kochi could stage a few matches of the IPL." The KCA office bearers, led by Secretary T.C. Mathew, approached Chandy after reports that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had written to Indian PM Manmohan Singh "asking that Sri Lankan players and officials be excluded from IPL matches to be staged in Chennai." Mathew said that "they are ready to host matches if there are any issues." Mathew: "We have already hosted IPL matches (fourth edition) in 2011 and we have no issues in organising it this time" (IANS, 3/27).
KEEPING QUIET: The PTI reported taking a potshot at arch rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Chief M. Karunanidhi on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, Jayalalithaa on Wednesday said that "while he had demanded that India should not take part" in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, "he kept mum on Lankan cricketers playing in an IPL team owned by his family." Jayalalithaa: "Karunanidhi, who had revived the TESO, demanded that India should not take part in the CHOGM, but remained silent on Sri Lankan players in the team owned by his family. This is the height of selfishness" (PTI, 3/27).
HITTING BACK: In New Dehli, PTI wrote former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga on Wednesday "slammed IPL governing council's decision to withdraw Sri Lankan cricketers from Chennai matches of the tournament and asked the players to opt out of the entire high-profile event beginning April 3." Ranatunga: "... as far as cricketers are concerned I think if they can't play in south India (Chennai) they should play in other part either. I personally feel if players are not welcomed in one part of India they should not be part of any IPL." Ranatunga termed the decision "a political gimmick and said that the IPL governing council should have taken all the matches away from Chennai" (PTI, 3/27). Former Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan said, "It's a sad (day) for cricket as we are not allowed to play in a certain part of India. It is a government decision, if they cannot provide security for us, we have to be cautious" (PTI, 3/27).
The Philippines and Brazil have signed Memorandum of Understanding on Sports Cooperation. The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said, "The MOU will provide the Philippines and Brazil with a framework for sports cooperation through the exchange of expertise in areas such as institutional cooperation; science and technology applied to sports; sports medicine; combating doping; using sports as a tool for social inclusion; and training of sports specialists and practitioners" (XINHUA, 3/27). ... The organizer and sponsor of F1's Chinese Grand Prix "unveiled a new garment for the event's showgirls as well as a trophy, both designed by Chinese artists" (CHINA DAILY, 3/27).