Tennis "is preparing to go Twenty20 with a blast of quick, made-for-television sets starring the best players in the world," according to Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. The event "is backed by the wealth of princes and governments across the Middle East and Asia and is to be installed by the end of the year in an effort to derive the maximum benefit from its present golden age." A November launch "is being readied for the International Premier Tennis League," a city-based franchise league that "will showcase not only those winning today’s grand-slam tournaments, but also past stars." The inaugural league "will be played from late November until just before Christmas, with players criss-crossing Asia, as matches are played on a home-and-away basis." A number of the present crop of top names "are already contracted to the IPTL and they will be auctioned" -- in much "the same way as the Indian Premier League operates in cricket." The "brainchild of the IPTL" is Globosport Managing Dir Mahesh Bhupathi. The company is promoted as India’s top sports, entertainment and new media conglomerate. The idea is that "each league franchise would have a minimum of six players" categorized as "marquee." The "salary band for each team is likely to be set between" $4M-$10M (LONDON TIMES, 4/1).
BIG NAMES: The London DAILY MAIL reported Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams "are among the leading players being lined up" for the new Twenty20-style Asian tennis league. Murray "has traditionally held his offseason training block on the Florida coast at that time of year but would have to make new plans if he decides to compete in Asia." Roger Federer "cannot take part this year due to a clash with his exhibition tour in South America but could sign up next year if the league proves to be a success" (DAILY MAIL, 4/1).
The game time of German players in the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) "has increase from 17.13% in '06 to 31.19% this season" due to a newly introduced "German quota," according to Michael Reinsch of the FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG. Since the start of '12-13 season, the 12-man roster of a BBL club "has to include a minimum of six German players." Back in '06, this number "was only two." A total of 108 roster openings in the league are reserved for German players. League President Thomas Braumann said, "Real German heros are still missing." But German national team coach Frank Menz "promised that it will happen." No talented player "has to go to a U.S. college anymore to play in the Bundesliga." The reason is that "talent is scouted earlier, and clubs have to have two full-time youth coaches" (FAZ, 3/29).
The Indian Sports Ministry directed the National Anti-Doping Agency "to immediately carry out dope tests on star boxer Vijender Singh, who has been accused of consuming heroin by Punjab Police," according to the PTI. Almost a month after Vijender's name surfaced in the drug scandal, the Sports Ministry stepped in to clear the issue "by subjecting the ace pugilist to dope tests." A press release issued by the Sports Ministry said, "Such reports in respect of a sporting icon are disturbing and may have a debilitating influence on other sportspersons in the country." Vijender "has denied having consumed heroin" and could not immeditialy be reached for comments (PTI, 4/1). The PTI also reported Indian boxing coach G. S. Sandhu "advised Vijender to give samples of his hair and blood to the investigating agencies." Punjab Police "have collected the hair and blood samples of boxer Ram Singh, a sparring partner of Vijender, in the drug haul case." Police had claimed Vijender and Ram Singh allegedly procured the drug from alleged drug dealers Anoop Singh Kahlon and Rocky for personal consumption as "fun" (PTI, 4/1).
IMAGE TAINTED: IANS reported Singh's alleged involvement in drugs will hit his "iconic" image and hamper the growth of boxing in the country. Vijender "has been the face of Indian boxing ever since he won a historic Bronze" at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 2010 Asian Games gold medallist boxer Vikas Krishan said, "He was a role model for some of the boxers. If the drug reports are true, it is bound to have a negative impact on the current and future boxers. It is going to have a bearing on India's image in the boxing world as well." India Amateur Boxing Federation "is reluctant to comment on the issue." IABF President Abhishek Matoria said, "We take the police's claims seriously, but it is still not the final word" (IANS, 4/1).
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed -- but not denied -- speculation that supermarket chain Sainsbury CEO Justin King "could take over his place in the driving seat of Formula One," according to Christian Sylt of the London GUARDIAN. King "is a motor racing fan, and there has been regular speculation that he could be a candidate to take over the wheel of Formula One." Ecclestone: "I've no idea whether the boss of a company like Sainsbury's could do my job. Maybe he could." King has insisted that "he has no plans to leave Sainsbury" but the speculation about him joining F1 has been fueled by questions over Ecclestone's future. Ecclestone is 82 and no successor "has been formally groomed to take over from him." This is not the first time that a retailer "has been linked with a top job at Formula One." Former Marks & Spencer CEO Stuart Rose "was tipped to take over" as chairman in '11 after German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was arrested. However, "he ended up being replaced" by CVC co-Founder Donald Mackenzie (GUARDIAN, 4/1).