F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has "ruled out increasing the 2014 F1 calendar to more than 20 races," according to the SID. Ecclestone: "We will have 20 races, not more. And we will race in Austria. Everything else, I don't know yet. Please ask me again after the summer." On Tuesday, Red Bull announced that Austria "will return to the F1 schedule in '14." Ecclestone said that the contract with the Red Bull Ring runs through '20. The current season consists of 19 races, and next season will include the debuts of the Grand Prix of Russia in Sochi and Grand Prix of America in New Jersey. Ecclestone "did not reveal what race will be scrapped." However, it is possible that the GP of America, which was scheduled to make its debut this year, "will be postponed again due to delays in the construction of the track" (SID, 7/24).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The discussions regarding pay drivers in F1 continue "as only four teams survive without drivers that come with a suitcase full of money," according to Roger Benoit of BLICK. The drivers at Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and Toro Rosso "do not have to worry about their salaries." Except at the Red Bull development team Toro Rosso, the drivers earn CHF 10M ($10.7M) or more per year. The only other drivers in this category are McLaren's Jenson Button and Lotus' Kimi Räikkönen. Second McLaren driver Sergio Perez, however, "drives because he brings with him the Mexican Slim clan and sponsorship deals." That "is the case for many drivers in F1." Currently 10 of 22 drivers "are considered to be pay drivers" (BLICK, 7/24).
Russian President Vladimir Putin "signed into law Tuesday legislation that would ban convicted hooligans from sports events for at least six months and up to seven years," according to R-SPORT. The so-called Fan Law, which is aimed squarely at keeping the 2018 World Cup in Russia safe from hooligans, "will come into effect" on Jan. 19. Under the new law, "if someone serving a stadium ban is found at a sports event, he or she can be fined up to 25,000 rubles ($770) or detained for 15 days." Police and sports federations "will be required to keep lists of violators, while stadium owners must install CCTV systems to identify troublemakers." Federal sports ministry data shows that there "were more than 14,000 offenses committed at Russian sporting events over the last three years" (R-SPORT, 7/23).
MATCH-FIXING: R-SPORT also reported Putin signed into law on Wednesday a bill that "toughens the maximum punishment for match-fixing to seven years in prison." The law "makes it an offense for athletes, coaches and sports officials from betting on their own sports and couples possible prison time with a maximum 1 million ruble ($30,000) fine for those convicted." Match-fixing "is thought to be common in Russian football." The governor of one of the World Cup host cities, Kaliningrad, last month "admitted asking his local football team to drop points because promotion would mean the club swallowing extra state subsidies" (R-SPORT, 7/24).
World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey "has pledged to 'catch the cheats behind the cheats' by cracking down on doping violations by coaches, agents and physiotherapists," according to Matt Majendie of the London INDEPENDENT. As part of the new code by WADA, Fahey insists that athletes "will no longer be solely responsible for failed dope tests but that the entourage behind sportsmen and women would be held accountable too." Those people "had previously been untouchable" by WADA. The wider-reaching battle "has become all the more relevant following the recent failed tests of Tyson Gay and five Jamaican athletes, including the former fastest man on the planet, Asafa Powell." Powell blamed a personal trainer after testing positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrine, while Gay said, “I basically put my trust in someone and was let down” after testing positive for a still unnamed substance (INDEPENDENT, 7/24). REUTERS' Mark Lamport-Stokes reported two other important components in WADA's new code are the requirement of "full menu testing" and a proposal for bans to be doubled to four years for the more serious doping offenses. Fahey said, "Some anti-doping organizations are undertaking testing and not ticking the square for testing, say, steroids. That will be eliminated in the code. This is part of ensuring we have the best machinery to beat the cheats. The real cheats are going to get four-year bans, the ones with steroids and human growth hormone in their system, and that's a big jump from the current two years" (REUTERS, 7/24).
Following the Board of Control for Cricket in India's move to cap the age limit for domestic-level match referees at 60, "state associations are busy zeroing on former cricketers to ensure an adequate number of competent match-referees for the next domestic season," according to Indranil Basu of the TIMES OF INDIA. To qualify for the match referee's job, "one must have played at least 25 first-class matches for the respective state." According to sources, "there has been mixed reaction to the BCCI's decision to put an age cap on match referees." The Int'l Cricket Council "has no age limit." Those who don't agree with the BCCI's decision say that "there is confusion over whether the recommendation came from the BCCI umpires committee or from some other source." A source close to the development said, "It's surprising because no one knows who has recommended this change" (TIMES OF INDIA, 7/24).
Former Australian national cricket coach Mickey Arthur is confident he will reach a "fair and reasonable" settlement with Cricket Australia when conciliation talks on his unfair dismissal claim resume next week, according to Nick Mulvenney of REUTERS. The South African "was unceremoniously dumped last month, just weeks before he was due to lead Australia into an Ashes series for the first time, after a string of poor results and incidents of ill-discipline in the squad." Arthur is suing for $3.6M or reinstatement, "and more than five hours of talks at the Fair Work Commission in Sydney on Wednesday were aimed at keeping the case out of the courts." Arthur: "Although we did not come to an outcome today, I am pretty confident there was enough goodwill in the room for us to continue talks next week" (REUTERS, 7/24). IANS reported Cricket South Africa President Chris Nenzani said that "his board has addressed all the issues on the appointment of Haroon Lorgat as its chief executive with the Board of Control for Cricket in India." The BCCI was a major obstacle in Lorgat's appointment as the CSA CEO, "and threatened to pull out of the forthcoming series" in South Africa" (IANS, 7/24).
Spanish handball has "written what it hopes will be the first chapter of the story of its salvation," according to Pablo Ibáñez of EL MUNDO. Meeting at the headquarters of the Spanish Superior Sports Council (CSD), CSD President Miguel Cardenal, Spanish Handball Federation President Francisco Blázquez and members of the handball players union "stamped their signatures on a protocol that will look to guarantee economic transparency in the management of handball clubs." The "alarm sounded" on July 9 when the "disappearance of the Atlético Madrid handball club was confirmed." At a meeting on Wednesday, handball leaders agreed on a series of measures designed to guarantee the competition's viability. Blázquez said, "Today is a historic day. We have passed through very complicated situations and thanks to the intervention of the CSD we have established a protocol to try to oversee in the best way and control a little bit more of the faults that are being produced by the clubs." The agreement will put the CSD in charge of auditing clubs. The "peer committee" between the CSD and the Spanish handball league (ASOBAL) will require "clubs to pass a quarterly test with information that will allow for a budgetary execution evaluation" (EL PAIS, 7/24).
COMMEMORATIVE STAMP: During the meeting, the Spanish postal service (Correos) also presented a stamp commemorating the Spanish men's national team's 2013 World Championship. Correos President Javier Cuesta presented the stamp with Cardenal, Blázquez and Spanish Public Works Undersecretary Mario Garcés Sanagustín all in attendance. Correos' series of sports stamps started in '60 and recognizes accomplishments in Spanish sports. The commemorative stamp's postal value is €1 ($1.30) and there are 260,000 now in circulation (Correos).
Indian Badminton League organizers on Wednesday "defended their decision to slash the base price of two of the six Icon Players, Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta, who were livid that their base prices were halved at the players' auction," according to IANS. Jwala and Ashwini on Tuesday said they were "disappointed, disgusted and hurt" when their $50,000 base tags were reduced to $25,000 as they went unsold at the closed bidding Sunday. After the cut, Jwala was sold to Delhi Smashers for $31,000 while Ashwini was given to Pune Pistons for $25,000 "in the open auction." The organizers, however, announced that "they would compensate the two" by paying Jwala $19,000 and Ashwini $25,000, so that they at least get their contractual base price. Ashish Chadha, CEO of Sporty Solutionz, commercial partner of the IBL said, "I do not understand what the fuss is all about. We have been fair to them (Ashwini and Jwala) despite the fact that they went unsold in the closed auction. We have ensured they got their base price and also their icon status, so what is the big deal?" (IANS, 7/24).
The Chinese FA "called a halt to Hong Kong player Yapp Hung-fai's transfer to Guizhou Renhe Football Club on Thursday" (GLOBAL TIMES, 7/24). ... Former Cricket South Africa CEO Ali Bacher believes that "the malpractice of players interacting with bookmakers continues to take place even today." Bacher: "Salman Butt, the former Pakistani cricket captain, has recently acknowledged that he had personally interacted with bookmakers in a Test two years ago" (PTI, 7/24).