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Volume 10 No. 22

Leagues and Governing Bodies

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has said the Indian Grand Prix will "probably not" happen in '14, according to Andrew Benson of the BBC. Ecclestone blamed "political" problems with the race, which has a contract to host a grand prix until '15. Indian motorsports federation President Vicky Chandhok said that Ecclestone and organizers the Jaypee Group "were trying to find a new date." Ecclestone said, "Is India going to happen next year? Probably not." Asked about the reason for his doubts, Ecclestone added, "Very political" (BBC, 7/29). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported reacting to the comment, Chandhok "confirmed next year's race was in question but said the grand prix still had a future beyond that." He said that race promoters Jaypee Sports Int'l and Ecclestone "were in talks to shift it from a late 2014 slot to early 2015 with an extension to 2016 to make up for the missed year." Chandhok said, "I work closely with both the Jaypee Group and Bernie. Apparently they are trying to find a mutually convenient date to start early in the year in 2015. With that in mind, 2014 obviously doesn't make logical sense and nobody can afford to have a late start in 2014 and then host another grand prix early 2015." There have been "bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, however, as well as concern about finances and the sport's exposure to high local taxation." Jaypee, which last month slammed the media speculation about next year's race as "totally baseless and malicious," hoped things will be sorted out. Jaypee spokesperson Askari Zaidi said, "We have not got anything in writing from the Formula One management regarding the status of the 2014 Indian Grand Prix" (REUTERS, 7/29).

PRESEASON TESTS: In Abu Dhabi, Gary Meenaghan reported the F1 "fraternity will descend on the UAE this winter ahead of next season's world championship, however whether the scheduled pre-season tests are held in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or both remains to be seen." In Budapest this weekend, the 11 F1 team managers "held a series of meetings to discuss potential dates and locations for the three tests." It "has been agreed the first test will commence in Jerez, Spain," on Jan. 27, one week later than originally planned. The more pertinent question is where the second and third tests in February will run. There "is an acceptance that they will both be held in the Middle East in order to guarantee warm track conditions" (THE NATIONAL, 7/28). REUTERS' Baldwin reported Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain "are under consideration with Dubai" -- the only circuit of the three that does not host a grand prix -- seen as the current favorite. Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn said, "Middle East tests will get the weather we need to give the engines a good work-out. So the first test will be European and second and third will be based in the Middle East." He added, "We must do both tests at the same circuit so we don't have any logistical issues" (REUTERS, 7/29).

TALKING TIRES: The BBC's Benson also reported cars could use wider tires next season "because supplier Pirelli is concerned the current dimensions will be unsafe." Tires "will be under more stress next year because the new 1.6-litre turbo engines are expected to produce more power and torque than this year's 2.4-litre V8s." Pirelli believes this means it "will have to supply tyres with a bigger 'contact patch' with the track, to reduce stress." The company "is to decide later this week whether to demand the change" (BBC, 7/29). CRAIN NEWS SERVICE's Adam Cooper reported sources close to the FIA have confirmed that Michelin "has expressed an interest in returning to Formula One racing." While it has long been assumed that Pirelli "will remain the sole supplier in 2014, and has made commercial arrangements" with both teams and Ecclestone, the bottom line is that "it has not yet signed a deal" with FIA. Nor "has the FIA yet issued an official tender for the supply contract, which it would normally be expected to do." It is believed that Michelin's formal interest "would trigger a tender, and that the FIA will go through the motions of asking all possible suppliers if they are interested before considering the offers from those who are" (CNS, 7/29).

British Olympic Association Chair Sebastian Coe "looks poised to become the most powerful man in world athletics" after Lamine Diack confirmed that he would be stepping down as president of the Int'l Association of Athletics Federations in '15 and "would be recommending a successor without the need for an election," according to Simon Hart of the London TELEGRAPH. Diack, who turned 80 in June, "did not reveal the name of his chosen heir," though Coe, with whom he has forged a close bond during their battle to ensure an athletics legacy for the Olympic stadium, "was sitting next to him in a London hotel on Saturday as the veteran Senegalese outlined his retirement plans." Coe "has made no secret of his desire to take over the running of the world governing body," though fellow IAAF VP Sergei Bubka, the pole vault world-record holder and 1980 Olympic champion, "is known to harbour similar ambitions." In keeping with IAAF tradition, Diack said that "he hoped to avoid a contested presidential election by announcing his choice as successor and asking the Congress to support his recommendation." Diack said, "I will say who must be my successor and the reason why. Then the house can decide whether they want to follow or not." History suggests Diack "will get his way since there has never been a contested election for the IAAF presidency" (TELEGRAPH, 7/27).

Though it was announced by the Argentine FA that the AFA Plus system would be ready for the upcoming season in August, it is "now estimated that AFA Plus will first be used a year from now," according to Matías Bustos Milla of CLARIN. As part of AFA Plus, each fan who wants to attend a game will have to be registered in a National Fan Register. Enrolling in the NFR will require fans to "register their name, picture, address, National Identity Document number and digital fingerprint." For those that promote it, AFA Plus "is the best tool for ending the business of fan gangs." This is "to say that six years after it was first considered, and while murders in football continue, AFA Plus still is not anything." It is "not known when it will first be used and many believe it will not serve to end the bloodshed staining football." AFA Plus project leader Fernando Casalla said, "In the first month only 400 people completed the registration. Afterward, that number increased, but we are far from what we estimated." Casalla "is right, because counting only first division clubs, there are 700,000 fans to add to the system." Because the AFA Plus card is "not only for fans, but also for venders, maintenance workers and players, the final tally will be nearly 12 million" (CLARIN, 7/29).

AFA PLUS 'UNCONSTITUTIONAL': CLARIN reported that "before AFA Plus is applied, and while it is not even clear when this will be, the system is currently a huge database." Because of this, Public Bar Association President Jorge Rizzo said, "Argentina is the only country asking for the authority to ask for people's fingerprints. Here is a civil association, the AFA, and a private business, Telecom, that are violating personal rights with the AFA Plus." Rizzo assured that "to demand this, it would have to be a law in Congress, not an AFA measure. People can request protection to avoid giving this type of information to AFA Plus administrators" (CLARIN, 7/29).

Cricket "is once again facing up to the spectre of corruption with the recent one-day international series between the West Indies and Pakistan set to be investigated over allegations of wrongdoing," according to Sam Peters of the London DAILY MAIL. Suspicious betting patterns "were identified during the low-profile five-match series, which concluded on Thursday, while unusually slow run-rates during certain overs followed by bursts of high scoring have 'set alarm bells ringing,' according to industry experts." Concerns "have been raised, in particular, around the tied third match of the series played in St. Lucia a week ago on Friday, as well as the final game, which resulted in a last-ball win for Pakistan on Thursday." One betting website "reported unusually large sums of money" -- said to run into several millions of pounds -- "being wagered between innings on a tied result during the third ODI after the West Indies were set 230 to win from 50 overs." Field placings for the final over, when No. 11 Jason Holder and fellow tail-ender Kemar Roach crashed 14 off six balls from Wahab Riaz, "will be scrutinised by officers" of the Int'l Cricket Council Anti-Corruption & Security Unit, "along with a failed run-out bid off the last delivery." ACSU officers "will also analyse patterns on spread-betting sites around the first 18 balls of the West Indies innings when only one run was scored" (DAILY MAIL, 7/29).

STRIKING BACK: The AFP reported Pakistan's cricket chief on Monday "termed fixing allegations over the team's one-day series against the West Indies as 'outrageous' adding his board had insisted on a full investigation" by the ICC. Pakistan Cricket Board interim Chair Najam Sethi "hit out at the allegations." He said, "These are outrageous claims and we have been in touch with the ICC and insist on investigation" (AFP, 7/29).

The German Tennis Federation's (DTB) advisory board "is hoping to receive financial support for its male players," according to the DPA. Board member Jürgen Weber said, "€200,000 to €300,000 ($265,000-$397,000) would already help us to finance coaches for our youth players. The DTB is unfortunately so poor that this little amount would already be a huge support. Unfortunately, we also don't get any money from the DOSB (German Olympic Sports Association)." While Germany's female players "are supported through the Porsche Team, the male players do not have such a program." Weber added, "In my opinion, Sports Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has to dig a little into his pockets. I already have had talks with him, and the minister gave me some hope" (DPA, 7/26).

The Mumbai Police on Monday "made it clear that they have not given 'clean-chit'" to former Indian Premier League Chennai Super Kings CEO Meiyappan Gurunath in the betting scandal that "rocked this year's IPL," according to THE HINDU. Meiyappan is the son in law of Board of Control for Cricket in India CEO N. Srinivasan. Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police Himanshu Roy said, "There is no question of giving a clean chit to him. We have not finished with our investigation yet and are looking for the custody of Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf to probe him for his role in the scandal. We will soon be filing a charge sheet" (THE HINDU, 7/29). The PTI reported the BCCI on Monday defended the report of its panel "which inquired into the IPL spot-fixing scandal, saying they could not depend on the police report since the two-member commission was already on the job." When asked "why the BCCI didn't wait for Mumbai and Delhi police to complete their probe before acquitting N. Srinivasan of any wrongdoing," BCCI VP Niranjan Shah said, "I think we can't depend on police report as we had already constituted a commission and whatever the commission said is final." Shah maintained that if "any one of the accused is found guilty during further investigations by the police authorities, BCCI will take immediate cognisance." Shah: "If anyone is convicted, automatically the BCCI will take notice and step in to take necessary action" (PTI, 7/29).

'ICB SHOULD WAIT': The PTI also reported the Indian Cricket Board on Monday made it clear it "does not give much importance to the verdict and would rather wait for the police probe to get over." India Sports Secretary P.K. Deb said, "The BCCI might have cleared them, but I think the Indian Cricket Board should wait for the police probe to get over" (PTI, 7/29). In a separate article, the PTI reported "cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad," training his guns at the BCCI "for handing out clean chits in the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal," on Monday asked whether "the Indian cricket board considers itself above the law." Azad: "I don’t blame (BCCI acting chief) Jagmohan Dalmiya or Srinivasan for this. The politicians are hell bent on making BCCI the next Indian Olympic Association. We have seen what happened to IOA due to political interference and now the same is happening with BCCI. While the Mumbai police and the Delhi police are investigating the case, the BCCI panel has given them a clean chit. Is BCCI above the law and constitution of the country?" (PTI, 7/29).