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Volume 10 No. 22

Leagues and Governing Bodies

British Cycling President Brian Cookson will challenge Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid "when he stands for re-election," according to Gardner & Slot of the LONDON TIMES. McQuaid, who has led the governing body since '06, "has been widely criticised for his handling of the Lance Armstrong scandal." Cookson, 61, who has been president of British Cycling for 17 years, said, "I have the full support and nomination of my home federation, British Cycling, and I respectfully ask for the support of the national cycling federations of the world and the whole international cycling family. I am not doing this lightly as I know how much needs to be done" (LONDON TIMES, 6/4).

SURPRISE DECISION: In London, Ben Rumsby wrote Cookson said, "We must restore cycling's credibility. The first priority for the new UCI president must be to change the way that anti-doping is managed so that people can have confidence in the sport." McQuaid was taken aback Monday by Cookson's decision "to stand against him less than four months after the Briton pledged his full support to the president." McQuaid: "I'm a little bit surprised with Brian, but that's as much as I'd like to say on that. As long as it's a good campaign and a clean campaign, I have no problem with that" (LONDON TIMES, 6/4).

DISTINGUISHED RESUME: The BBC reported "Cookson became president of British Cycling" in '96 and under his leadership Great Britain has won 19 Olympic Gold Medals and 28 Paralympic Gold Medals. In '12 he also "oversaw the first British winner of the Tour de France when Sir Bradley Wiggins took the yellow jersey." He served as UCI Int'l Commissaire for 23 years between '86 and '09, helping to organize, coordinate and officiate int'l cycling races (BBC, 6/4).

Ferrari is the latest F1 team to be dragged into the Pirelli tire "'test-gate' row which escalated at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix," according to Dan Hawkins of RACE DEPARTMENT. Mercedes is under investigation by motorsports governing body FIA after it was discovered it had "taken part in a three-day testing session with Pirelli following the Spanish Grand Prix this year." Despite Ferrari joining Red Bull in leading the protests against Mercedes, the Italian manufacturer has "now been dragged into the controversy, having themselves allegedly been part of a test with Pirelli between the Bahrain and Spanish Grand Prix." Ferrari is now also facing disciplinary action, pending an FIA investigation, although it does not believe it breached any rules, "having used a two-year-old car during the tests," unlike Mercedes, which is thought to have used this year’s model (RACE DEPARTMENT, 6/3).

MONACO 'ISOLATED': ESPN reported Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said that his team "is determined to regard what happened in Monaco as an isolated incident" ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. Ferrari driver Felipe Massa "had a difficult weekend which ended when a front left suspension failure caused a big crash" at Monte Carlo's first turn -- an incident that has led to him getting a new chassis -- while Fernando Alonso was an uncompetitive seventh in the race." Domenicali said he wanted to put Monaco behind him as quickly as possible. Domenicali: "Of course we also focused on the problems we had with reliability, which absolutely had to be resolved. What is sure is that the team is completely motivated and we are determined to regard what happened in Monaco as an isolated incident" (ESPN, 6/4).

Former cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirti Azad "has urged the Union Government to take over the affairs" of the Board of Control for Cricket in India through an ordinance, according to THE HINDU. Azad "issued a hard-hitting statement that did not spare his party colleagues Arun Jaitley and Anurag Thakur." Describing the BCCI as the "Brotherhood and Cooperation in Cricket in India," Azad said, "The Union and state governments should display their strength against the united force of politicians of rival political parties who are shamelessly dominating Indian cricket, by taking immediate control of BCCI and respective state cricket-associations." He said the government takeover was necessary for "safeguarding the huge amount of BCCI money that is unsafe in the hands of some selfish individuals, who have come to seizing control of Indian cricket by employing dubious means" (THE HINDU, 6/4). The PTI reported the spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League "turned murkier with the names of global terrorist and India's most wanted man Dawood Ibrahim and his close aide Chotta Shakeel surfacing in the case." Delhi Police on Tuesday "slapped stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against all the 26 accused," including three Rajasthan Royals cricket players, and claimed bookies like Ashiwani Aggarwal were working at the behest of the Dawood gang. The police claimed that they "were armed with enough evidence and telephone intercepts to prove in the court that the bookies had made use of the underworld network in fixing IPL matches" (PTI, 6/4).

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM: In Chennai, Saad bin Jung opined the present scandal and intrigue within the BCCI "is mainly related to its prodigal child, the IPL." This tournament "was founded on more than just cricket." Conflicts of interest, multi-million dollar franchises, cheerleaders and the promise of freely available post-match "entertainment," Bollywood and cricket stars, raging TV ratings -- "the IPL fed on it all and became a raving success." Now match-fixing, betting, bookies "and the alleged involvement of players and a man related to the president himself have converted the tournament into sleaze." The "ravenous IPL continues to feed on this baseness, taking it all in, bursting at its seams." It is because IPL sleaze "has seeped so deeply into the very foundations of Indian cricket that it has become of paramount importance for the BCCI to cleanse the system from its very roots." It is time that the BCCI "severed itself from the IPL" (THE HINDU, 6/4). 

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The AFP reported the agent of Indian cricket captain M.S. Dhoni admitted Monday "that the World Cup winner had briefly held a stake in a management company that represents several other players in the national side." Rhiti Sports says on its website that "it manages Dhoni as well as all-rounders Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja," whose int'l careers depend in part on the captain who has a large influence on team selection. Rhiti said it was "greatly aggrieved at the widespread media reports regarding an alleged conflict of interest" (AFP, 6/3). The PTI reported former Indian cricketers and sports management execs feel that Dhoni "should not put himself in such a position where questions could be raised about a possible conflict of interest." Azad: "Obviously, the documents that have come out indicates that it has been a conflict of interest as far as Dhoni's involvement with Rhiti Sports is concerned." Former cricketer Chetan Chauhan said that "ethically it was not correct for Dhoni to have stakes in the company, which manages him." Chaulan: "Ethically this is not correct. It seems to be trickling down from the president. The Board officials need to take some harsh decisions and make it clear what business the players and officials can float of their own" (PTI, 6/4).

BLACK MARKET TICKETS: In Chennai, G. Viswanath wrote the Mumbai Cricket Association "has debarred senior official Ratnakar Shetty from taking part in the association's activities." Shetty "is alleged to have charged the association's office bearers of indulging in black-marketeering of tickets" for the Twenty20 int'l  between India and Pakistan (THE HINDU, 6/4). The FINANCIAL TIMES' James Crabtree wrote the scandal engulfing the IPL "took a further turn this week." N. Srinivasan "left his post grudgingly and temporarily." The decision "was an unsatisfactory fudge, however, and one typical of a cricketing establishment that shows few signs of cleaning up its sport, or the sizeable commercial operations behind it." True, Srinivasan stepped aside pending an inquiry, "but that is to be dominated by BCCI loyalists, while his interim replacement is another stalwart of the system that oversaw the current farrago." None of this "suggests a shake-up is likely." The episode also shines a light on the IPL’s management, "and one that is dispiritingly indicative of problems that plague India’s business scene more generally -- the most obvious being feeble governance." Conflicts of interest "are rife too." These two issues add up to a third: "over-centralisation of power." Just as too many Indian businesses are dominated by one powerful owner, so Srinivasan "came to hold sway at the opaque juncture of cricket's political and commercial interests" (FT, 6/4).

The NBA is betting billionaire Brooklyn Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov "can give it an advantage as the league seeks to replicate in Russia its success in China," according to Jake Rudnitsky of BLOOMBERG. NBA Int'l President Heidi Ueberroth said that the NBA hired former IMG Worldwide Exec David Watts "as London-based vice president for Russia and former Soviet states." Prokhorov said, "We would actually love to see some regular-season games played in Russia, as we have currently in London. That would be my dream." Ueberroth said, "There's enthusiasm for big global events, from the FIFA World Cup to the Sochi Olympics. Russia is a top priority market for us." CSKA Moscow VP Natalia Furaeva said that the NBA needs to start its push with a national TV contract "to increase its relevance in the Russian market," where basketball's popularity ranks behind football, ice hockey and biathlon. Furaeva: "Any cooperation is more successful when it is a two-way street. Exhibition games are definitely interesting for Russian teams and fans." Prokhorov said, "Several top members of the government who love basketball" are willing to help promote the game in Russia. Former Portland Trail Blazers President Marshall Glickman, who advises Euroleague teams including CSKA at the G2 Strategic LLC consulting group, said, "Basketball in Russia needs to develop from the grass roots because a few very wealthy people are not enough to create a market. The NBA needs a presence, to show up and play games, and to get the product in the streets and the merchandise on the shelves" (BLOOMBERG, 6/3).