The England and Wales Cricket Board will "demand an explanation and apology" from Australia's Channel 9 after it implied that English cricketer Kevin Pietersen "had used silicon tape on his bat to fool Hot Spot," according to Andy Wilson of the London GUARDIAN. Pietersen "took to Twitter to defend himself over the suggestion that he was one of several players seeking to cheat the decision review system, as cricket's crisis over the use of technology deepened." Those suggestions "were dismissed" by Australia captain Michael Clarke -- who described them as "quite funny" -- and later the Int'l Cricket Council. However, "it was Pietersen himself who reacted the most angrily." Pietersen tweeted, "Horrible journalism yet again!" He added, "My name brought up in hotspot crisis suggesting I use silicon to prevent nicks showing! Such hurtful lies" (GUARDIAN, 8/7).
CONFLICTING REPORTS: In London, Oliver Moody reported Pietersen's comments came after reports by Channel 9 and The Australian newspaper that the Int'l Cricket Council "is looking into claims that players have been attaching fibreglass or silicone tape to their bats to disguise thin edges." Former England captain Michael Vaughan, who once joked about Indian players using Vaseline to deceive Hot Spot, "maintained that it was the technology that was at fault, not the players." Vaughan wrote on Twitter, "Silicon tape my A***." He added, "Absolute nonsense...Hotspot looking for any excuse..." The use of Hot Spot "has been bedevilled by controversy, particularly in the present Ashes series" (LONDON TIMES, 8/7). REUTERS' Nick Mulvenney reported the ICC "has denied it is investigating players in the Ashes series" for use of silicone tape on the edge of their bats. ICC CEO Dave Richardson said in a statement, "These media reports are totally incorrect. [ICC GM] Geoff Allardice is meeting with both teams and umpires to see how we can best use the DRS and the available technology going forward in the next two test matches. It has nothing to do with any players." Australian all-rounder Steve Smith "also denied the allegations," telling a news conference that while batsmen used tape to help make their bat last longer, "that did not extend to the use of silicone." Smith said, "It's in the spirit of the game not to do that sort of thing, we haven't discussed anything about trying to cheat the system at all." Hotspot's Australian inventor, Warren Brennan, was reported in the British media "to be preparing a statement on the technology" (REUTERS, 8/7).
The Argentine FA "will allow non-season-ticket holders to attend upcoming football games, but it will continue to prevent visiting fans from attending," according to CLARIN. Starting on the third matchday of the season, clubs at all levels of Argentine football will be able to sell tickets to fans who are not season-ticket holders. The Argentine FA approved this decision late Monday night. The "measure preventing fans without season tickets from attending the first two matchdays had been taken by the AFA and government security organizations to prevent violence." This "was only carried out for two matchdays." AFA VP Luis Segura said, "They are going to once again sell tickets to the local public. Like anything that happens in society, what can put an end to the violence is the people. If there are no problems, visiting fans will also be able to return" (CLARIN, 8/6).
Spanish sports organization AGM Sports, which "helps student-athletes all over the world obtain high-quality education in the U.S.," has announced that it will provide 116 student-athletes with scholarships for U.S. universities in '13-14, according to MARCA. The 116 scholarships will add to the organization's 241 students currently "immersed in the U.S. university system." For the upcoming school year, AGM Sports has $7.9M worth of scholarships, with $2.9M going to the 116 new students (an average of $23,000 per scholarship) while the remaining $5M-plus will be distributed among the current U.S. students. AGM Sports Dir General Gonzalo Corrales said, "Studying in the U.S., where one can combine high-level athletics with University academics, is the best option for young people from Spain who see an uncertain future in our country, where the level of youth unemployment is among the highest in the world." To date, AGM Sports has helped more than 600 student-athletes attend U.S. colleges at a value of more than $28M. Tennis and football are the two most popular sports for the Spanish student-athletes who go to the U.S. -- "52 tennis players will join 126 current tennis players in the U.S., while 15 footballers will join the current group of 48 already attending U.S. colleges" (MARCA, 8/7).
New South Wales Minister for Sport Graham Annesley will be given a briefing from Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority officials on Thursday on their progress, a day after the six-month mark for the investigation into the "darkest day in Australian sport," according to Adrian Proszenko of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Wednesday marked six months since "the Australian Crime Commission's probe into sport, drugs and potential links to crime." Annesley said, "I raised that the states weren't getting enough feedback, and they said they were happy to meet with me at any time. I'm hoping I will get more of an idea about where it's all up to, but I don't know how much they'll be prepared to tell me." Annesley said that "he was frustrated with the time the investigation was taking." Annesley: "It's always too long when innocent people have been suspected of not being innocent" (SMH, 8/8). In Sydney, Chip Le Grand wrote Australian Football League club Essendon President Paul Little "has urged the AFL to clear his players from the taint of doping allegations" and expressed frustration at ASADA's 400-page "work in progress" currently being examined by league and club lawyers. Little, who has read the confidential report, "expressed confidence that no Essendon player would be charged with a doping offence as a result of ASADA's six-month, ongoing investigation into the club's supplement program" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/8). THE AUSTRALIAN also reported NSW Supreme Court judge Lucy McCallum Wednesday warned sports scientist Stephen Dank, the man at the center of the ongoing ASADA drug investigation, to carefully consider his numerous defamation claims, telling him he had launched "something of a juggernaut." In an interlocutory or provisional judgment handed down Wednesday, McCallum ordered that proceedings Dank "brought against two medical professionals, endocrinologist Kenneth Ho and leading Melbourne sports doctor Peter Larkins, be struck out." McCallum also ruled that Dank "had to pay legal costs" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/8).
TAKING OFFENSE: In Sydney, Sam Lienert wrote AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou described as "offensive" the suggestion by former Essendon player Tim Watson that the AFL "had already decided to punish the Bombers." Demetriou returned from the U.S. on Wednesday "and hit out at Watson, father of Bombers captain Jobe, for saying the AFL had been conditioning the public to expect the club to be stripped of premiership points." Demetriou: "To suggest that the AFL commission would somehow predetermine an outcome is just offensive and it's completely wrong" (SMH, 8/8).
The Indian Badminton League, set to begin on Wednesday, "has generated a lot of buzz and excitement," according to Vinay Nayudu of the TIMES OF INDIA. There have been controversies too, "with players being miffed over not being informed about the reduction of their base prices at the auction." Former world No.1 badminton player PRAKASH PADUKONE, however, feels that "this was bound to happen with the League in its birth year." Padukone, who was India's first All England champion in '80, said that "players need to perform to prove their worth in the lucrative IBL."
Q: Do you think the IBL is a welcome development? Prakash Padukone: IBL is definitely the best thing to have happened for Indian badminton, if administered properly. It will certainly add to the popularity of the sport besides bringing in more money for the players.
Q: Some players have expressed disappointment about the way auctions took place... Padukone: There is bound to be disappointment as this is the inaugural year. Players are still not fully aware of the rules. Organizers on their part should also take the help of people who have organized similar events and make the League more transparent.
Q: Is the media gag on players ahead of the League a good sign? Padukone: If it is true, then it is both good and bad for IBL. Good because there will be no controversies but bad because players will not be able to give interviews to the press and express their views regarding the matches, which is not what the organizers would want (TIMES OF INDIA, 8/5).
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to grant interim stay to a Bombay High Court verdict declaring as illegal and unconstitutional the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s two-member probe panel "set up to look into spot-fixing and betting charges" in the Indian Premier League tournament. A bench of justices A.K. Patnaik and J.S. Khehar, however, agreed to hear BCCI's "petition challenging the high court’s judgement and issued notice on its plea." The bench asked Cricket Association of Bihar, on whose plea the high court had delivered its verdict, "to file its response on BCCI’s petition within two weeks and posted the matter for hearing" on Aug. 29 (PTI, 8/7). ... The All India Football Federation "is set to form a two-member committee to help the I-League clubs fulfil the mandatory 'A' criteria necessary for the compliance of club licensing system" (THE HINDU, 8/7). ... Int'l Association of Athletics Federations President Lamine Diack said that Usain Bolt "leads an overwhelming majority of clean athletes, and a series of recent doping cases is not damaging athletics." Diack said that "the IAAF has been a pioneer in the fight against substance abuse and will continue to take appropriate measures against offenders" (DPA, 8/6). ... Former Indian cricket captain Anil Kumble on Wednesday hoped that "the law government is trying to enact to deal with match and spot-fixing will act as a deterrent to the menace." Kumble said, "The government is making efforts to put in place the new stand-alone law to deal with 'unfair cricket practices' and I only hope it acts a deterrent to curb the menace" (PTI, 8/7).