Australian Football League Essendon coach James Hird is suing the league, "lodging a claim with the Victorian Supreme Court that he has been denied natural justice in a season-long doping probe," according to Samantha Lane of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Hird is also demanding that the case be heard by an independent tribunal instead of the league's ''conflicted'' commission. Plans for "the extraordinary step are to be executed" on Thursday, the day after the Essendon coach -- charged "with bringing the game into disrepute over the Bombers' 2011-12 supplements program" -- claimed he was being ''ambushed'' by the AFL. Hird's legal team was "not surprised by the AFL's decision to publish the details of charges against Essendon" and "resolved that court action was necessary" (SMH, 8/21). In Melbourne, Jake Niall reported the AFL wanted Essendon "to accept a series of penalties which included exclusion from the 2013 finals, the loss of draft picks for two years, a fine" of more than A$2.5M ($11.8M) and a 12-month suspension for Hird. Central to the disagreement over penalties "has been Hird’s unwillingness to suffer a penalty that would imply he supported the inadvertent doping of players" (THE AGE, 8/22).
POWDER KEG: Also in Melbourne, Warner & Robinson reported Essendon said it never considered the proposed "deal" from the AFL because it considered the sanction "armageddon." The seven-month drug scandal "exploded" Wednesday after the AFL "chose to release its full list of charges against the Bombers." The 34-page document "revealed a litany of allegations detailing drug injections, substances brought back from China by a convicted drug dealer and claims of a health scare for Hird after he was injected with an exotic substance" (HERALD SUN, 8/21).
MEDIA WAR: In Melbourne, Spits & Murname reported that the release of the charges sparked "a fierce response from Essendon and an escalation of hostilities between one of the league’s oldest clubs and the governing body." After AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou told the media the league had an "open mind" about the outcome of a hearing into the charges, Little and Hird "later held their own media conference and read from prepared statements." The Essendon pair "claimed the charge sheet publicly released by the AFL on Wednesday was different to a revised charge sheet the club and the AFL had agreed to after a series of lengthy negotiations." Little "slammed the AFL for releasing what the Bombers claim was the original charge sheet and said the club would publish the revised charge sheet on its own website." Hird "declared he had been denied due process" and accused the AFL of running a "trial by media" against him (THE AGE, 8/21).
MYSTERY LETTER: Also in Melbourne, Peter Hanlon reported the unearthing of the "mystery letter" penned by Essendon club doctor Bruce Reid to Hird and then-football manager Paul Hamilton "has the potential to absolve the veteran medico of complicity in the initial stages of the supplements saga, and heaps further pressure on the club." The letter, written by the doctor on or about January 17, 2012, reveals Reid had "fundamental problems being club doctor" in the face of the supplements given to Essendon footballers, and that he had "no prior knowledge that they would be injected with AOD-9604 or the calf's blood extract Actovegin" (THE AGE, 8/21).
Int'l Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid "has lost Switzerland's backing for his bid to be re-elected," leaving the Irishman in what rival Brian Cookson described as "a very difficult position," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. The Swiss cycling federation confirmed on Wednesday that "it had withdrawn its nomination for McQuaid, who failed to gain backing from his own federation, for political reasons." The incumbent "still has the backing of the Thailand and Morocco federations," however these "have become the subject of controversy after the British cycling federation suggested the nominations were made after the deadline stipulated by the electoral rules" (REUTERS, 8/21). In London, Robin Scott-Elliot reported the Swiss nomination "was due to be challenged in a court in Zurich" Wednesday but that "has been cancelled." The Swiss reportedly "feared the cost of losing the case" -- some £70,000 ($109,000) -- would leave the body "facing possible bankruptcy." McQuaid believes that the legal challenge to the Swiss nomination "was instigated by" sportswear firm Skins Owner Jamie Fuller, who "helped set up and funds the Change Cycling Now pressure group." Fuller "welcomed the Swiss decision." Fuller: "This should finally signal an end to Mr. McQuaid’s quest for re-election" (INDEPENDENT, 8/21).
QUESTIONS ABOUND: In London, William Fotheringham reported in the past, the presidency "has drawn little attention." However, the campaign "is being fought against the backdrop of last year's revelations" about Lance Armstrong, and why the UCI, under McQuaid and former UCI President Hein Verbruggen, "failed to take stronger action against the Texan." The UCI received a donation of more than $100,000 from Armstrong in the early '00s. Questions linger about whether a "truth and reconciliation process should begin to clear the air over doping in cycling" (GUARDIAN, 8/21). BLOOMBERG's Ben Priechenfried reported McQuaid "faced calls to resign from Greg LeMond and other former riders" (BLOOMBERG, 8/21).
FIRING BACK: In a statement, McQuaid said, "This election will be decided by the voting delegates at the UCI Congress in Florence, Italy on September 27th despite attempts by him and those who support his campaign to eliminate me from the contest." McQuaid said that he obeyed all UCI rules and that his opponent and adversaries were content to mire the election in legal cases and legal argument in an attempt to discredit and overthrow him. McQuaid: "My other nominations from the Thai Cycling Association and the Federation Royal Marocanine are valid and were all received in accordance with the UCI rules by the designated closing date" (SBD Global).
Former Lahore City Cricket Association President Khawaja Nadeem Ahmed has said that Pakistan PM Muhammad Nawaz Sharif's concerns "are valid about foreign teams not visiting Pakistan owing to security threats" and there is a dire need to restore int'l sports activities in Pakistan to enhance the country's image. Ahmed said that the PM's concerns "were authentic on sports arenas which give a deserted look in the absence of international teams." Ahmed: "All regional cricket bodies stand united to support the Prime Minister for brining back international cricket to Pakistan and we are ready to extend all out cooperation to the Pakistan Cricket Board in this regard" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 8/21). ... New Zealand Rugby's previous payment fund of NZ$1.6M has more than doubled to NZ$3.5M as part of its "big push for double gold at the Rio Olympics, with sevens the financial winner in the new collective employment agreement." The agreement, signed by New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association, governs professional rugby from '13-15 "and includes a big windfall for the abbreviated version of the game" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 8/21). ... Despite an Anthony Milford boycott threat, Australian Rugby League Commission Chair John Grant does not believe the National Rugby League "will have to step in and settle a contract wrangle looming for the Canberra rookie sensation." Milford's manager "has threatened his charge will sit out next season if not granted a release by the Raiders on compassionate grounds." Milford "hopes to return to his sick father in Brisbane" (AAP, 8/22). ... NRL side Canberra CEO Don Furner "will renew a call for the NRL to provide a discount under the salary cap for clubs that develop their own junior players" (AAP, 8/22). ... A Delhi court on Wednesday issued "open" non-bailable warrants against three close aides of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in connection with the Indian Premier League spot-fixing scandal after the police said that "they had played a key role in the entire conspiracy" (PTI, 8/21). ... China's anti-doping authorities said Wednesday that "doping violations have increased in China ahead of this year's National Games with eight athletes testing positive in the second quarter of the year." A total of 12 positive cases "have been registered this year," already matching the number of violations in '12 (REUTERS, 8/21). ... Pakistan cricket captain Misbah-ul Haq urged his country's cricket chiefs on Wednesday "to revive plans for an IPL-style Twenty20 league to get his players sharp" for int'l competition (AFP, 8/21).