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Volume 6 No. 214

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Mercedes has been found guilty in the "Tyregate" case, but the slap on the wrist delivered Friday by the Int'l Tribunal "was hardly approval for the prosecution of the team by the FIA," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Costs "were shared equally between Mercedes and Pirelli," which were both reprimanded for their part in an illegal 600-mile tire test session last month, and the FIA. The tribunal, headed by Tribunal President Edwin Glasgow, found that the FIA had given "qualified approval" for the test, a mitigating factor at the center of the seven-hour inquiry Thursday in Paris. The tribunal found that Mercedes had broken article 22.4 of the FIA's sporting regulations by running a current '13 car in the test and that Mercedes did "obtain some material advantage" which "at least potentially gave an unfair sporting advantage." The five judges qualified their guilty verdict by finding that "neither Mercedes nor Pirelli were trying intentionally to gain an advantage or that they acted in bad faith" (LONDON TIMES, 6/21). In London, Tom Cary wrote the judging panel also ruled that Mercedes "had no reason to believe that approval had not been given" given the advice it had received from FIA Race Dir Charlie Whiting and senior lawyer Sebastien Bernard. The FIA "responded to the verdict in a separate statement in which the body expressed hope that lessons can be learned." The statement said, "The FIA wishes that lessons are learnt from this case and from the decision handed down. To this end, the FIA will make sure, in association with all F1 teams, that its control of the testings is strengthened" (TELEGRAPH, 6/21).

THE PUNISHMENT: REUTERS' Alan Baldwin wrote the tribunal "ordered the British-based team to miss a three-day young driver test scheduled for Silverstone in July." The tribunal had the power to impose a heavy fine, dock points or even ban Mercedes from the world championship -- "although that was never a likely option for one of the sport's major players who are currently third overall." Champions Red Bull, who had protested to the FIA at last month's Monaco Grand Prix when they found out Mercedes had used its current car and drivers in the test, "had indicated they wanted to see a tough response." After the hearing, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said, "Usually if you commit a sporting offense there's a sporting penalty that goes with it" (REUTERS, 6/21).

ACCEPTING THE DECISION: The BBC's Andrew Benson wrote Mercedes said it "acknowledges and accepts the decision" of the FIA Int'l Tribunal. In the best interests of the sport, the team does not intend to avail itself of any right to appeal the decision." The tribunal said it was "unable to express any opinion" as to whether testing carried out by Ferrari with a two-year-old car in '12 and '13 was "properly authorised." But it said it was "equally unsatisfactory" that Whiting had given his consent to this even though the tribunal "had no evidence before it which indicates his opinion had in fact been wrong." The decision to split the costs equally suggests that "the tribunal felt the FIA was not completely blameless in the episode" (BBC, 6/21). In London, Simon Cass wrote the decision certainly places the focus on F1's rule makers, the FIA, "to tighten up the regulations regarding in-season testing given that the leniency of the verdict on the int'l tribunal points to the fact there are significant loopholes which need to be addressed." The lack of a draconian punishment "certainly suggests the int'l tribunal was sympathetic to the apparent inconsistencies in the rules" (DAILY MAIL, 6/21).

RED BULL THREAT: SPORT BILD's Bianca Garloff reported Red Bull Motorsports Dir Helmut Marko revealed his dislike of Mercedes' punishment in the tire test scandal. Marko: "That's a joke. We expected a tougher punishment." The other F1 teams "have not issued official statements so far." However, a Ferrari spokesperson said, "We are disappointed that Mercedes pointed the finger at us in its defense" (SPORT BILD, 6/21). In London, Kevin Eason reported Red Bull is "threatening to take the law into their own hands as a direct challenge to the authority of the FIA." Red Bull execs "are considering boycotting the young drivers’ test to set up their own private session in a mirror of the Mercedes case." A private test "would breach the FIA rulebook," but Red Bull said that they "would take the risk of a reprimand -- the punishment meted out to Mercedes -- for the benefit of three days of testing" (LONDON TIMES, 6/24).

The Interior Ministry said that "Spanish police have taken 84 people into custody and seized more than 70,000 doses of illegal doping products imported from Greece, China and Portugal," according to Rodrigo de Miguel of REUTERS. The Ministry's statement said that "police seized anabolic steroids, growth hormone and the blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) destined for gyms and private dwellings in Valencia, Catalonia, Andalusia, Madrid, the Basque Country and Asturias" (REUTERS, 6/23).

The Australian Football League "is confident the investigation into Essendon's supplements scandal will be resolved well before the finals series," according to the AAP. One of "the worst possible scenarios for the league is that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority hands down its findings during September, with Essendon still in premiership contention." AFL COO Gillon McLachlan said on Sunday that "was unlikely to happen." McLachlan: "This issue has to be brought to a head before the finals … I believe with some degree of confidence that will be done" (AAP, 6/24).

Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic has revealed for the first time that he is "struggling to cope with the ban imposed on his father and coach and has slammed the ATP over its handling of the issue," according to Liam Fitzgibbon of AAP. It comes as officials announced that John Tomic's tour suspension "will remain in place until at least May." As he prepares to play at Wimbledon without his father by his side, Bernard Tomic said that the ATP "has not fully considered his welfare by implementing the ban." He said, ''Truly, from my side, they're not doing the right thing. As a player, they should be protecting me and doing the best for me. He is my coach and I've lost a coach now that should be traveling with me on the tournaments and going to my matches and it's difficult." John Tomic's tour credentials "have been suspended since he was charged with assaulting Bernard's former training partner, Frenchman Thomas Drouet," during the Madrid Masters. Under ATP rules, "it is up to individual tournaments" to decide if John Tomic "can attend events as a spectator" (AAP, 6/24).