The Royal & Ancient "has defended its continued stance in allowing men-only clubs to stage the Open Championship," according to James Corrigan of the London TELEGRAPH. R&A CEO Peter Dawson claimed the governing body would be “bullying” if it insisted courses such as Muirfield, this year’s venue, admitted female members. The Open is "the only one of the four majors to be played at single-sex clubs" after Augusta’s recent election of two females. Dawson welcomed Augusta’s decision as "a positive move for golf," but refused to cast men-only clubs "in a negative light." Dawson: "To think the R&A might say to Muirfield, ‘You are not going to have the Open any more unless you change your policy’ is frankly a bullying position that we would never take." There are nine courses on the Open roster, three of which (Muirfield, Royal St. George’s and Royal Troon) do not have any female members. However, Dawson "was keen to point out" that only 1% of the golf clubs in Great Britain are single-sex and, to his knowledge, "there are no clubs which do not allow women to play their courses." The trio of male-only Open courses "all allow women to play as guests or visitors." Dawson "is expecting criticism" during the Open week in July, but believes the issue will be overblown by "the chattering classes." (TELEGRAPH, 4/24).
THE GREAT DEBATE: In London, Ewan Murray wrote the establishment of gender-specific clubs happened during a time when "golf and society were far more male-dominated environments than they are today." Elsewhere, "life has moved on." Dawson: "My personal position is that I totally believe in equality, but I do also believe that there are times when men need to socialize with men and women need to socialize with women. I think that reflects majority opinion and I don't think there's much wrong with that as long as nobody is disadvantaged by it" (GUARDIAN, 4/23).
FIFA "has imposed a worldwide ban on 23 players and one official found guilty of match-fixing" by the Lebanon FA, according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. The global ban "follows sanctions imposed by the Lebanese FA in February against those involved in the scandal." It "handed out various penalties to the 24 including life bans for defender Ramez Dayoub and forward Mahmoud El-Ali, following allegations that international and regional games were rigged." The Lebanese "conducted a two-month investigation involving over 60 witnesses," which was led by West Asian Football Federation General Secretary Fadi Zreiqat, who said the "international and club games were targeted by fixers" (REUTERS, 4/24).
Spain's Commission of Education and Sport has ratified the project for the new Antidoping Law, which is hoped to be presented on May 9 to continue its urgent processing in the Senate, according to J.A. Ezquerro of AS. The objective is to have the law passed by June, before the IOC decides which city will host the 2020 Olympic Games. Madrid is one of three finalists to be named the host city, which will be announced on Sept. 7 (AS, 4/24).
The British Horseracing Authority said on Wednesday that Godolphin stables trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, "who has admitted using banned steroids to dope racehorses," will face a Disciplinary Panel in London on Thursday, according to Martyn Herman of REUTERS. Eleven horses based at Newmarket in southern England tested positive for steroids, including stanozolol -- "the substance used by disgraced Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson at the 1988 Seoul Olympics." Announcing the date for the disciplinary hearing, the BHA said that Al Zarooni "had also admitted administering prohibited substances to four other horses under his care, in addition to the 11 that were tested positive" (REUTERS, 4/24). In Abu Dhabi, Geoffrey Riddle wrote Al Zarooni "has already admitted culpability, a suspension at least the equal to the 12 months handed to trainer Howard Johnson" in '11 for giving three horses anabolic steroids would appear likely. British Equine Veterinary Association CEO David Mountford said, "The rules are fairly clear, and I think most trainers would be aware of those rules" (THE NATIONAL, 4/24).
STATING THEIR CASE: In London, Andy Stephens wrote racing's ruling body and trainers united Tuesday to strongly deny that the sport is tainted by drugs after revelations that 11 horses trained by Al Zarooni for Sheikh Mohammed, "the most powerful owner in the world, had tested positive for anabolic steroids." The National Trainers' Federation admitted that it was "shocked" at the news of positive tests but insisted that it was an isolated episode (THE TIMES, 4/24). In a separate article, Riddle wrote the Emirates Racing Authority "remain convinced that their drug-detection procedures are effective" despite horses under the care of Al Zarooni returning positive samples in England. Drug testing of horses "is carried out by the ERA on all race winners and that net is widened to horses placed in Group and Listed races" (THE NATIONAL, 4/23).
The Qatar Stars League will offer supporters "the ability to purchase tickets online with the option of printing tickets at home or receiving their ticket via a smart phone for every game and every club" (GULF TIMES, 4/23). ... The Board of Control for Cricket in India-appointed disciplinary committee that is looking into the alleged financial irregularities by the suspended Indian Premier League Commissioner Lalit Modi, "would be completing its investigation by this month end, a move being objected to by the defence" (PTI, 4/24).