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Volume 10 No. 24

Leagues and Governing Bodies

On the brink of its world championships in Moscow, the Int'l Association of Athletics Federations announced Thursday that it "will reintroduce four-year bans for serious doping violations and pushed the World Anti-Doping Agency to do likewise," according to David Wharton of the L.A. TIMES. Member federations, voting at the IAAF congress, "supported the federation's leadership in asking the WADA for tougher sanctions." The IAAF "has vowed to enforce the bans even if other sports refuse." In a statement, the IAAF council said, "The IAAF will not stint in its resolve to do everything in its power to eradicate cheating" (L.A. TIMES, 8/8). In London, Rick Boradbent reported the IAAF said that it was concerned WADA "would implement a watered down four-year ban that pandered to sceptical sports." The body stated that "it would go it alone if that proved the case." WADA "is due to vote on four-year bans in November." IAAF Council Member Helmut Digel said, "If WADA is only following some federations, who have their doubts, we have to take care of our own fate" (LONDON TIMES, 8/8).

TIMING IS KEY: BLOOMBERG's Danielle Rossingh wrote the IAAF had been forced to halve its four-year ban for first-time drugs violations in '95 "under pressure from some major track governing bodies which were concerned a longer suspension would violate national laws." That meant some athletes caught doping "had been able to sit out their bans without missing an Olympic Games." The IAAF’s decision comes two days before the start of the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, "and follows a series of high-profile cases that have shaken the sport in the past two months." On July 14, U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay and Jamaica's Asafa Powell, the fastest and fourth-fastest men in the world this season, respectively, said that they would not compete in Moscow "after testing positive for banned substances" (BLOOMBERG, 8/8). 

Up to 10 Australian Football League clubs -- the most on record in the same season -- "have forecast a financial loss this year," according to Greg Denham of THE AUSTRALIAN. While the overall profitability of the 18 clubs has been estimated at amounting to a combined A$5M ($4.6M), "the figure will be inflated by powerhouse clubs -- Collingwood, West Coast and Hawthorn." Club CEOs were "informed of their overall financial state of play by the AFL at a two-day conference in Victoria" that ended Thursday. The only clubs that have "budgeted for a profit this year are the Magpies, Eagles, Hawks, Geelong, North Melbourne, Fremantle, Richmond and Essendon." The "most disturbing data received was the record overall debt now carried by the clubs." The AFL revealed that "combined club debt had jumped" from about A$50M last year to A$95M. The overall debt figure includes A$9M owed to the AFL, and A$31M owed to banks, "which has significantly decreased in recent years" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/9).

Replay technology Hot Spot will "continue to be used for the remainder of the Ashes series despite an admission" Thursday from the Int'l Cricket Council that the technology had "not performed as effectively" as in past series, according to the London TELEGRAPH. The Decision Review System, "and most significantly Hot Spot, has come under intense review during the series which will resume with the fourth Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street" Friday. Amid the controversy the ICC has flown ICC GM Geoff Allardice to "speak to both teams in discussions described as 'very constructive.'" Allardice: "We acknowledge that the DRS has not performed as effectively during the past three Tests as it has in other series. It was very encouraging to hear both teams reiterate their support for the use of DRS. Some of the ideas that were suggested during the meetings could improve the system, and will be considered further by the ICC" (TELEGRAPH, 8/8). REUTERS' Tony Jimenez reported Allardice pledged that "the ICC would continue to do all it could to make DRS better, and how the third umpire interprets what the system produces." Allardice said, "Technology is evolving. During the (third) test at Old Trafford we conducted a trial where a TV umpire accessed replays using a multi-channel monitor system with its own operator and recording device. The aim was to get more replay angles to the umpire faster so he will be able to make more accurate decisions and minimize delays to the game. The feedback from this trial has been very positive and we now need to consider how this technology could be most effectively used as part of the DRS system" (REUTERS, 8/8).

INVENTOR REPORTEDLY CONCERNED: The AFP reported Australian TV channel Channel Nine on Thursday "repeated claims that cricketers are using silicone tape on bats" to cheat Hot Spot readings, saying that "the inventor has raised concerns" with the sport's authorities. The channel "unleashed a storm of controversy when it alleged on Wednesday that players in the current Ashes series were using the tape on their bats to avoid nicks being detected by the thermal imaging system." The ICC said that the claims "were incorrect and it was not investigating any alleged attempts by players to 'cheat' Hot Spot." Channel Nine "renewed its allegations on its evening news bulletin on Thursday," saying Hot Spot inventor Warren Brennan had raised "serious concerns" with the ICC about flaws with the system. Channel Nine said, "He [Brennan] fears that (silicone) tape used on bats can fool the technology. In short, an edge simply won't show up." Channel Nine said that "as of late Thursday Brennan was refusing all interviews" (AFP, 8/8).

COOK LAUGHS OFF CLAIMS: In London, Richard Hobson reported England captain Alastair Cook "became the latest England player to laugh off reports that batsmen are using silicone tape to prevent Hot Spot from detecting edges." Cook added his voice to the call from the England and Wales Cricket Board for an apology from Channel Nine. Cook: "Both sides have laughed at it, certainly we have in our dressing room. We think it is a strange story because it is just so blatantly untrue." Brennan said in '11 that he knew Hot Spot was "not 100 per cent accurate." Brennan said, "Over the years, we have found that occasionally we do not get hot spots when we are expecting them, particularly on the faint edges" (LONDON TIMES, 8/8).

HEAT ON ICC: In Sydney, Andrew Wu reported the ICC will decide "whether the controversial Hot Spot technology remains in place for the return Ashes series in Australia." Hot Spot and the decision review system "will be high on the agenda" for the ICC's chief execs' committee when it meets next month. The committee "will then make a recommendation to the ICC board, which has the power to decide whether Hot Spot remains in use in the DRS" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/9).

HAWK-EYE FOUNDER CHIMES IN: In London, Owen Gibson reported football goal line technology Hawk-Eye founder Paul Hawkins, who created the technology to "provide broadcasters with a computer system" that could determine whether leg-before-wicket decisions were correct and has gone on to utilize it in tennis and other sports, said that cricket "had perhaps adopted the technology without sufficient trials." Hawkins: "What cricket hasn't done as much as other sports is test anything. This [football's Goal Decision System] has been very, very heavily tested whereas cricket hasn't really undergone any testing. It's almost like it has tested it in live conditions so they are inheriting broadcast technology rather than developing officiating technology." Hawkins, who last year sold Hawk-Eye to Sony and is working to develop systems to help baseball and U.S. football officials in the U.S., said that "technology developed for broadcasters was necessarily different to that designed to aid officials." Hawkins said, "Hot Spot is a fantastic piece of technology and has been great for viewers and in a broadcast world things that work often really add to the broadcast whereas the requirements for officiating obviously are different" (GUARDIAN, 8/8).

The Australian Rugby Union is "open to an overhaul of Super Rugby that would see more trans-Tasman derbies and up to two Argentinian teams included in the competition," according to Georgina Robinson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Super Rugby's governing body, SANZAR, is "under pressure to include a sixth South African team in the competition from 2016 and believes the best way of doing so is to cut the current three-conference system down to two conferences that would not play each other until a finals series." One conference would "include the current Australian and New Zealand teams and the other would include six South African teams and up to two sides from Argentina." While Australia "might have preferred to stay with the current three conference model during previous discussions, the prospect of less travel and more marketable derby-style matches between New Zealand and Australian sides has the ARU looking closely at the proposal." It is becoming "less and less likely that Super Rugby in its current format will exist beyond the next Rugby World Cup." Its new shape is "expected to be decided on by the SANZAR nations and Argentina by the end of this year" (SMH, 8/8).

Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier said that "the costs of competing in Formula 1 must be brought down in order to safeguard the future of the current grid," according to Noble & Tremayne of AUTOSPORT. Boullier believes that 80% of teams are in favor of negotiating ways to reduce expenditure, "but that a select few teams are preventing a consensus and creating an effective impasse." That means smaller teams -- including Lotus -- "face a financial deficit that they cannot plug indefinitely." Boullier said, "The problem is that some teams -- like Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes -- can still afford the old way and can spend a lot on the car; we can't. To keep teams competitive, we need to keep a minimum budget with our resources, but this limit is above the revenue stream so we need our shareholders to bridge the gap" (AUTOSPORT, 8/8).

A district court on Thursday sentenced former Korean Basketball League coach Kang Dong-hee to 10 months behind bars "for fixing games," according to YONHAP.  Kang "was found guilty of taking cash" worth 47M won ($42,000) from gambling brokers to fix four games during the '10-11 season of the KBL while heading the Dongbu Promy. It marks the first time that a coach from one of four professional sports in South Korea "has received a prison term for fixing games, dealing another blow to the country's sporting world which has been tainted by a series of similar rigging scandals." In the same ruling, "the man who paid Kang through brokers to fix the games was sentenced to one year and four months in prison" (YONHAP, 8/8).

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association "is to launch a betting investigation into two Shanghai Masters qualifying matches" that were played in Doncaster, England Tuesday, according to Hector Nunns of the LONDON TIMES. Bookmakers "suspended betting for the contests" between Thailand's world No. 92 Passakorn Suwannawat and Egypt's Mohamed Khairy, and the one involving Thailand's world No. 75 Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon and Scotland's world No. 113 Ross Muir. Unusually large sums of money "were placed on Muir and Khairy to win" -- and both did. It "was Khairy's first professional victory." Aware of the speculation, the WPBSA "had switched the Thirapongpaiboon-Muir match to a TV table to allow post-match analysis." In a statement, the WPBSA said, "The WPBSA are liaising with the Gambling Commission to establish the available facts surrounding betting on these matches. A decision will then be made on any further action required" (THE TIMES, 8/7).

Members of the National Cricket Academy sub-committee "were in for a rude shock" when it was intimated that the Board of Control for Cricket in India has lost Rs 50 crore ($8M) on "a dubious land deal and it is now mulling on initiating criminal proceedings against those involved in the mess" (PTI, 8/8). ... Hockey India on Thursday gave associate membership to Bengal Hockey Association, which was under suspension, "after the state body promised to get its house in order in six months time" (PTI, 8/8).