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Volume 6 No. 214

Leagues and Governing Bodies

After 12 teams voted, Argentine basketball league La Liga Nacional agreed on administrative changes: the league "will close competition for two seasons and over this period will increase its size to 20 teams," according to Julián Mozo of OLE. The teams "are looking to modify the leadership of the Clubs Association (ADC)." The news is that "beginning next season, there will be no relegations for two years, and for '15, there will be 20 instead of 16 teams." The "criticisms did not take long to arrive: that the league will lose competitiveness, that the level of play will drop, that it will lose excitement." The 12 clubs that voted in favor of this decision "made a political move that, in these two years, will make profound changes that the league needs, beginning with changing the Exec Table of the ADC and continuing with professionalizing the leadership structure" (OLE, 6/5).

Delhi Police on Thursday said that Indian Premier League team Rajasthan Royals Owner Raj Kundra "has admitted placing bets on his IPL team through a bookie-friend," and that it was probing whether his actress-wife Shilpa Shetty was also into betting, according to Devesh Pandey of THE HINDU. Investigators also claimed that Kundra told them that he lost around Rs one crore ($175,690) in the past three years "in betting in IPL matches." However, police said that "they have no evidence yet to implicate Kundra in fixing matches." Kundra, a British national, was questioned for 11 hours Wednesday after cricketer Sidharth Trivedi "told police that his business partner-friend Umesh Goenka used to ask for information regarding team formation and pitches." Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said, "He (Kundra) has admitted to betting. He used to bet on his own team. We have also come to know that he has lost a lot of money in betting. He used to bet through Goenka, who is also a bookie" (THE HINDU, 6/6). NDTV's Tanima Biswas wrote sources said the Delhi Police is unlikely to book Kundra for gambling, "which is a bailable offence." The police said that "it wants to focus on establishing links between bookies and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's crime syndicate or 'D Company'" (NDTV, 6/6). In N.Y., Romit Guha wrote in addition to his co-ownership of the Rajasthan Royals, "Kundra has stakes in several Indian companies, including entertainment firm Essential Sports and Media Pvt. Ltd., interior design and construction company Kundra & Kundra, and Ashwini Steel Pvt. Ltd." The Board of Control for Cricket in India could suspend Kundra "from any activity related to the sport for as long as five years if he is found guilty of betting" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/6).

TWEETING INNOCENT: In Mumbai, Bharti Dubey wrote Shetty "has denied her involvement in IPL betting." The actor tweeted: "For those who care,my apparent involvement in betting is complete nonsense nd I have never bet on any cricket match ever.Truth will prevail." She added, "We love cricket, it's the passion for the sport that made us a part of IPL. It's extremely disheartening to keep clarifying that." Shetty also "came out in defence" of her husband Kundra. Earlier, "a bookie allegedly named her for placing bets." Reacting to this, the actor tweeted: "RR owners we are wronged and have Not done anything Wrong!! its been very upsetting.." (TIMES OF INDIA, 6/6). The BBC reported police investigating allegations of spot-fixing in the IPL cricket tournament said that "they have seized" Kundra's passport (BBC, 6/6).

EMERGENCY MEETING: The PTI reported rattled by betting charges against Kundra, the BCCI on Thursday "convened an Emergent Working Committee meeting in New Delhi on June 10 to discuss the issue and 'take action if required.'" BCCI Working Group Chief Jagmohan Dalmiya said that "the entire issue of Raj Kundra's alleged involvement in betting will come up for discussion at the meeting." The veteran administrator also said that Baroda Cricket Association's Sanjay Patel "will be the new BCCI secretary while the post of the treasurer will be announced later." He also said that no BCCI member will be part of the inquiry commission, and the two retired high court judges T. Jayaram Chouta and R. Balasubramaniam "will form the two-member commission to probe allegations against the BCCI President N. Srinivasan 's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan" and the Chennai Super Kings (PTI, 6/6). Former BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale on Thursday expressed shock over Kundra's admission to betting in T20 matches, and said that it further "shakes faith of the fans in the sport." Jagdale: "It (betting) is morally wrong since you're owning a team. Such things are not good for cricket and not good for IPL" (PTI, 6/6).

WEDDING BREAK: The PTI also reported suspended cricketer Ankeet Chavan, an accused in the IPL spot-fixing scandal, "surrendered before a Delhi court on Thursday on expiry of the one-week interim bail he was granted to solemnise his marriage" (PTI, 6/6). In a separate piece, the PTI reported former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi on Thursday "suggested that the upcoming Champions League T20 and next year's IPL should be put 'on hold' till the time the sport is completely free of corruption." Modi tweeted: "IPL 7 and current upcoming CL should be put on hold till full and complete cleansing of BCCI and IPL is done. One cannot continue to take fans for a ride" (PTI, 6/6).

SRI LANKA TAKES ACTION: The PTI also reported the Sri Lankan government "is mulling to bring a tough anti-corruption law against unfair practices in sports in the wake of spot-fixing scandals in the IPL and Bangladesh Premier League." Sri Lankan Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said, "We are bringing a law against fixing and are working on its draft. It will have strict provisions like life ban if anyone found guilty of fixing. I will send the draft to the cabinet and after its approval, it will be passed by the Parliament. The whole process will take around six months" (PTI, 6/6).

Mercedes faces "the prospect of being penalized" for its tire test with Pirelli in Barcelona last month, according to Paul Weaver of the London GUARDIAN. Motorsports governing body FIA "has referred the case to its international tribunal for further investigation following a report from the stewards of the Monaco Grand Prix." It was at Monaco, during the last race weekend, that Red Bull and Ferrari "lodged an official protest." The FIA has decided now that Mercedes -- and Pirelli -- "have a case to answer." If found guilty Mercedes "may face any one of a number of penalties including a hefty fine, a points deduction or even being thrown out of this year's championship, though that is extremely unlikely" (GUARDIAN, 6/5). In London, Kevin Eason reported a FIA statement said that Ferrari "has been cleared of any charges after carrying out a test in April after the race in Bahrain." The key difference is that Ferrari "used a two-year-old car for their test, but Mercedes used not only the car that went on to take first and fourth places in Monaco" but also had Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in the cockpit (LONDON TIMES, 6/5).

Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid announced Wednesday that he has accepted petitions from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and will "soon send it all materials in his possession regarding Lance Armstrong." McQuaid said, "The UCI will send to the USADA all tests carried out on Lance Armstrong since 1999. The first elements will be sent this week. The UCA has not protected Armstrong. The UCI has a lot to do to recover its prestige and explain its performance against doping, but to this day, the group is not the same it was 10 or 15 years ago" (AFP, 6/5). ... Adamant six weeks ago that he would sue Australian Football League CEO Andrew Demetriou for defamation, sports scientist Stephen Dank "has dropped the matter after being advised his case against the AFL boss was not strong enough" (THE AGE, 6/6). ... Pakistani cricketer Fawad Ahmed "has expressed his appreciation of and loyalty to Australia after a parliamentary law amendment paved the way for the former asylum seeker's call-up to England for an Ashes trial." Changes to Australia's Citizenship Act, intended to allow elite cricketers to benefit from expedited passport applications as those in tennis and other Olympic sports do, "passed the House of Representatives without amendment" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6/7).