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Volume 10 No. 25

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The Spanish Basketball League (ACB) and Spain's Association of Professional Basketball Players (ABP) will meet Friday at 1pm local time at Spain's Super Sports Council (CSD) to "try to reach an agreement and avoid an indefinite strike," according to Díaz-Guerra & Llorens of AS. CSD President Miguel Cardenal will be in charge of "mediating the situation." A meeting Thursday morning that was attended by ABP President José Luis Llorente and ABP Secretary General Rafa Jofresa "could cancel the strike" (AS, 5/22). LIBERTAD DIGITAL reported Llorente assured that "after months of negotiations, nothing was left except to call for a strike." Llorente: "We do not have anything left besides calling a strike after months of negotiating. We will see if they meet our demands, especially with players' guaranteed salaries and with clubs' contracts. Clubs that do not meet them will be sanctioned" (LIBERTAD DIGITAL, 5/23).

Thirty-eight-year-old Indian doubles tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi, who has "a strong head for business," is pushing ahead with his Asian tennis league project, according to Christopher Clarey of the NEW YORK TIMES. Bhupathi believes that Asia "is under-served by high-level tennis and that many players, despite their long, grueling seasons, are genuinely prepared to surrender some well-earned rest in the quest for more earnings." On Friday, in Paris, he and his partners plan to introduce to the public the Int'l Premier Tennis League, or IPTL, "with the intention of starting play" in late '14. It is to be a team tennis league with franchises in six "as-yet-unspecified Asian cities." It is "modeled in part on something relatively new" (the Indian Premier League in cricket, which began in '08) and on something relatively old (World Team Tennis, the U.S. league founded in '73). The IPTL "appears to have a surprising level of preliminary support" from major stars. Bhupathi said that "those who have committed to the project include Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka." Bhupathi said that he expects Murray and Djokovic to have an equity stake in the league, "and that investors include former players like Justin Gimelstob, a member of the A.T.P. board, and Boris Becker." The cities "being considered for franchises are Singapore, Tokyo, Mumbai, Delhi, Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul, Dubai, Jakarta and Doha, Qatar" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/23).

The latest in a series of scandals to engulf the Indian Premier League deepened on Thursday, as police investigating betting corruption allegations "moved to question the chief executive of one of the event’s leading teams," according to James Crabtree of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Mumbai police officers travelled to the southern city of Chennai to "issue a summons" to Chennai Super Kings CEO Gurunath Meiyappan over "alleged links to one of the figures arrested during the probe." A Chennai Super Kings spokesperson "declined to comment," but the development "brings the police investigation closer to the heart of the IPL’s senior management." The Chennai team is controlled by powerful business and cricket mogul N. Srinivasan, who is also Meiyappan’s father-in-law. Srinivasan also heads the the Board of Control for Cricket in India (FT, 5/23). The PTI reported police said that the call records of Randhawa, son of late wrestler-actor Dara Singh, who was arrested in the IPL betting case on Tuesday, "indicated he had made several calls to Chennai and some to Meiyappan." An officer involved in the probe said, "Vindoo made several calls to Meiyappan of the Chennai IPL. We may call the person in question to ascertain the reasons why these frequent calls were made." The actor "was arrested for his alleged association with bookies." Vindoo, winner of reality TV show Bigg Boss season 3, "was allegedly in touch with some bookies held in the scandal." He also reportedly "admitted to having facilitated the escape of two bookies," Pawan Jaipur and Sanjay Jaipur to Dubai (PTI, 5/23).

NEW LEGISLATION: The PTI also reported the Union Law Ministry "is mulling a new anti-fixing legislation." Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said, "We are in touch with the Home Ministry and the Law Ministry to work out the law. We will consult the Attorney General before moving forward. It is necessary that there is a law or a deterrent. There is no guarantee that this is not happening in other sports. Who knows it might have started in other sports as well" (PTI, 5/23).

UEFA has recommended a minimum 10-match ban "for racist abuse by players" beginning next season and "increased the punishment for verbally or physically attacking match officials," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. The sanction for insulting an official "was raised" from a two-match ban to three and for assaulting an official from 10 to 15. The new regulations for discriminatory behavior by spectators "will result in a partial stadium closure for a first offence and a full closure for a repeat offence" coupled with a €50,000 ($64,500) fine. The proposals agreed by the exec committee "will be ratified" by UEFA’s Congress Friday (LONDON TIMES, 5/23).

BLOOD TESTING: The BBC reported UEFA "will also carry out blood testing in more competitions" next season, and "consider using biological passports." In February, Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger said that he had asked UEFA several times "to implement new drug-testing procedures." Wenger: "When you have a doping control at UEFA, they do not take blood, they take only urine. I have asked many times [at UEFA meetings] in Geneva [for that to be changed]." Previously, blood testing "has only taken place at European Championships" (BBC, 5/23).

PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION: In London, Owen Gibson reported UEFA "is set to award a place in the Champions League to the winners of the Europa League" beginning in the '14-15 season, in order to "make the competition more attractive." Other plans being considered include "whether to award a fifth Champions League place to clubs in the big European leagues and to expand the number of Europa League places on offer" (GUARDIAN, 5/23).

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that "giving anabolic steroids to horses will soon become a criminal offence" in the UAE. Sheikh Mohammed: "I have, in light of the unfortunate recent event, directed that a decree be issued making, with immediate effect, the import, sale, purchase or use of anabolic steroids in horse sports a criminal offence under the UAE penal laws" (BBC, 5/23). ... The Sports Authority of India’s "timely intervention has paved the way for the country’s participation" in the Deaflympics at Sofia, Bulgaria, after the athletes "were left to fend for themselves following bitter infighting between two rival factions" (PTI, 5/23). ... The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Wednesday claimed it had no "direct" communication from Sahara on the latter’s decision to pull out from the Indian Premier League next season, but "triggered a war of words with the latter responding strongly" (THE HINDU, 5/23).