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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The draft F1 calendar for '14 "has been published with no Grand Prix of America in the waterfront of New Jersey but with the addition of Sochi in Russia, Mexico and Austria," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. As published, there are "21 venues on the schedule, which would add two more dates to the already gruelling 2013 roster of 19 grands prix." It is expected that not all "will make it over the line with the calendar yet to be approved by the FIA later this month." South Korea, which "has staggered onto the schedule for next month, is still there, although brought forward to the fourth race of the year." The race in Mokpo "is likely to be a makeweight, though, designed to step in if other races fail with contracts still to be signed and the circuit embroiled in a financial struggle." Meanwhile, brows "will be furrowed in Texas where the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin finds a new race in Mexico City positioned just a week before their event." Organizers in Austin "hoping for big numbers from across the Mexican border to help boost crowds now find they have a direct competitor almost on their doorstep" (LONDON TIMES, 9/5).

TEXAS TWO-STEP: A spokesperson for the Austin-based Circuit of the Americas told SBD Global that the Texas race was hoping another North American race would enhance its second running. "We believe that additional races in the Americas will only serve to raise the profile of Formula 1 racing in our region and create more opportunities for U.S. F1 fans to watch races that happen in their own time zones, which is a significant convenience. Growing the F1 fan base in North, Central and South America helps everyone connected to the sport" (HJ Mai, SBD Global). AUTOSPORT's Jonathan Noble reported "as has been widely expected, the season will start in Australia on March 16 for the traditional double-header with Malaysia" (AUTOSPORT, 9/5).

NEW PLACES: In London, Paul Weaver reported F1's "return to Mexico City for the first time in 22 years in a move that would not only delight some of the sport's most passionate fans" but also McLaren driver Sergio Pérez, who is from Guadalajara. Pérez said, "I hope to see a grand prix here soon. It would be a great opportunity for the country. There's a lot of enthusiasm for F1 in Mexico. People would love it" (GUARDIAN, 9/5). Also in London, Tom Cary reported the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place at the Black Sea resort of Sochi after next year's Winter Olympics, "is in doubt after a dispute between organisers and the national motorsports authority." The Mexican race, meanwhile, "has a lot of work to do if it is to go ahead given the state of disrepair into which the Circuit Hermanos Rodriguez has fallen" (TELEGRAPH, 9/5). In Barcelona, Raymond Blancafort reported a provisional calendar leaked by Autosport indicates that the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix will take place in Barcelona on May 11 (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 9/5).

March 16 - Australia (Melbourne)
March 23 - Malaysia (Sepang)
April 6 - China (Shanghai)
April 13 – Korea* (Korea Int'l Circuit)
April 27 – Bahrain (Sakhir)
May 11 – Spain (Barcelona)
May 25 – Monaco (Monaco)
June 8 – Canada (Montreal)
June 22 – Austria (Red Bull Ring)
July 6 – Great Britain (Silverstone)
July 20 – Germany (Hockenheim)
July 27 – Hungary (Budapest)
Aug.24 – Belgium (Spa)
Sept. 7 – Italy (Monza)
Sept. 21 – Singapore (Marina Bay)
Oct. 5 - Japan (Suzuka)
Oct.19 – Russia* (Sochi)
Oct. 26 – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
Nov. 9 – Mexico* (Mexico City)
Nov. 16 – U.S. (Circuit of the Americas)
Nov. 30 – Brazil (Interlagos)
*(subject to confirmation of track/contract)

British Olympic Association Chair Sebastian Coe and British cyclist Chris Hoy "have thrown their weight behind" British Cycling President Brian Cookson's bid to become Int'l Cycling Union president, according to the PA. Coe "has written to all the UCI federation chiefs expressing his support for Cookson," who is challenging the incumbent, Ireland's Pat McQuaid, in an election that has already "become a bitter contest." Hoy has said Cookson would be a "fantastic president" to take the sport into a new era. The election contest "is still in dispute after McQuaid failed to attract a nomination from either his home country, Ireland, or Switzerland, where he lives" (PA, 9/4). VELO NATION reported Cookson "has secured the vote of another delegate, with two of the three Oceania votes now pledged to him." Cycling Australia recently said that "it would support him." New Zealand "has now also come on board, with its board announcing that it had also decided to endorse him after listening to a presentation by him in Sydney at the weekend." The third Oceania federation, Fiji, "is yet to make its intentions known" (VELO NATION, 9/5).

OLYMPIC QUESTION: ROAD reported McQuaid said that cycling "will not be represented in the IOC if Cookson is elected." If McQuaid is ousted "he will lose the post on the IOC" that he has held since '10, and would not automatically be "replaced with another UCI delegate." McQuaid: "The statement [from Coe] doesn't change the fact that Brian has no influence within the IOC and no one within the cycling family is going to be fooled into thinking otherwise" (ROAD, 9/5).

Pressure is intensifying on the Australian Football League "to resolve the last outstanding dispute in the Essendon supplements saga, with a Supreme Court judge urging it to consider club doctor Bruce Reid's push for an independent hearing of charges against him," according to Pia Akerman of THE AUSTRALIAN. Reid has launched action in the Victorian Supreme Court in a bid to block the AFL from hearing the charge that "he brought the game into disrepute through his alleged involvement in allowing players to be administered with exotic and potentially risky supplements." Lawyers for the respected medico Thursday "blasted the AFL and its chairman Mike Fitzpatrick at the case's first hearing," accusing the league of showing malevolence and a "hunger for conviction" against Reid throughout the Essendon inquiry. Judge David Beach questioned the AFL's barrister Jeff Gleeson on why the AFL refused to have the charge heard by an independent arbiter, given its commission would be criticized as a "kangaroo court" if Reid eventually lost. Beach said, "It's a once-in-a-generation case" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/6). In Canberra, Adam Cooper wrote senior coach James Hird, assistant coach Mark Thompson and Football Manager Danny Corcoran all accepted penalties, but Reid's barrister, Ross Gillies, said that there was more at stake for Reid "given his role and reputation as a medical practitioner." Gillies: "It's fundamentally an allegation that he hasn't done enough to protect his patients, a serious allegation against a doctor" (CANBERRA TIMES, 9/5). Also in Canberra, Jon Tuxworth wrote a ruling on whether Hird retains his Australian Capital Territory Sports Hall of Fame status could be weeks away, "with the board deferring a decision to seek further advice." The board debated the situation for 45 minutes on Thursday "but voted unanimously to put a final call on hold until it knows the full story behind the Bombers supplements saga" (CANBERRA TIMES, 9/6).

The Int'l Cricket Council is "looking for an alternative base to move the office out of Dubai," according to Vijay Tagore of the MUMBAI MIRROR. Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan "is known to strongly dislike the swanky two-storied building." As ICC watchers put it, "he hates going there." Srinivasan and England and Wales Cricket Board President Giles Clarke had suggested "a shift to a city like Hong Kong." Recently, ICC VP Mustafa Kamal suggested that "Singapore could be an ideal option." At a recent function of the Asian Cricket Council, Kamal "virtually endorsed Singapore." Kamal: "Location-wise, Singapore is a good place. The government is also keen to support cricket here. The ICC board is seriously thinking about relocating to Singapore and a decision will be made soon." Singapore Cricket Association President Imran Hamid, "who is also a director of the ICC, went further." Hamid: "We're making earnest efforts to see this happen. Singapore satisfies all the requirements to base the organization here." The ICC "has engaged Ernst & Young to do a survey and suggest the best possible places for the relocation" (MUMBAI MIRROR, 9/5).

The Int'l Cricket Council has been dealing with the "controversial technology" of its replay system, the Decision Review System. ICC GM of Cricket GEOFF ALLARDICE "goes candid" on the technology and "how it can be improved to get more correct umpiring decisions" in a recent Q&A with Makarand Waingankar of the TIMES OF INDIA.

Q: With reference to the Ashes series, what's ICC's take on the DRS?
Geoff Allardice: The aim of the DRS is to increase the number of correct umpiring decisions. During the Ashes Tests, this percentage increased from 92.2% to 97.3% after using DRS, which is consistent with its overall performance.

Q:  Most top former players feel that the DRS should be left to the field umpires, without having any limitations on reviews. What do you think?
Allardice: The ICC hasn't dismissed the idea of using an umpire review model in the future, particularly as technology improves. For that, though, it has to show an improvement on the player review model that is currently being used. We have tried giving control to the umpires, in the Super Series in 2005 for example, and we saw that the umpires would either review every decision and slow down the game, or selectively review decisions and miss correcting an error.

Q: The players feel the percentage of human error is growing at an alarming rate. Could this be attributed to heavy load of work on umpires?
Allardice: The ICC's statistics do not suggest that the number of umpiring errors is growing at an "alarming rate." The decisions are now being dissected by broadcast technology that gets better every year, and analyzed by media and social media, magnifying the impact of every error . Even with this analysis, the quality of the umpiring decisions remains at a remarkably high level (TIMES OF INDIA, 9/5).

DRS SUPPORT: The PTI reported former ICC President Ehsan Mani "has backed the decision of the sport's governing body to persist" with the DRS, which, according to him, "has helped in reducing the mistakes of umpires." Mani: "I think they are only minor issues now related to the technology use in the DRS but they are not serious enough to warrant suspending the use of the UDRS." Mani said that "he had no doubt that DRS would only get better with time." Mani: "Overall you look at the results produced by using the DRS it has improved the accuracy of umpiring decisions by around 95 percent which is a huge step forward" (PTI, 9/5).

Every National Rugby League player and official "is on notice to behave during their clubs' traditional Mad Monday celebrations this season," according to David Riccio of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. After the battering the game received following the Canterbury Bulldogs’ end-of-season embarrassment last year, NRL Integrity Unit COO Jim Doyle "has moved to ensure this year's Mad Monday is void of a similar scandal." In an email sent to all 16 NRL club CEOs, Doyle "strongly reminded every club and their players they must adhere to the NRL's strict code of conduct, while also warning of the use of social media, including Twitter and Facebook." Doyle wrote, "As we are all no doubt aware, there have been various issues over the years with respect to incidents occurring out of 'Mad Monday' celebrations that have had a negative impact on our brand and reputation." In a recent interview, new Canterbury CEO Raelene Castle said that "she had no intention of cancelling this year's Mad Monday once the Dogs bow out of the finals race." Castle: "I'd be a brave girl to come in here and say we're not having a Mad Monday" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/6).

NRL NINES: In Auckland, Steve Deane reported "the prospect of a booze-fuelled Wellington Sevens-style crowd marauding around Mt Eden and Sandringham hasn't gone down well with the Eden Park Residents' Association." However, NRL Nines promoter Dean Lonergan insisted that "locals have nothing to fear from an event that is aiming to attract 96,000 spectators over two days each February." Association President Mark Donnelly said, "Two full days would create a number of issues. We've seen the problems in the past with alcohol consumption over long periods of time, both with one-day cricket and double-header league." Lonergan insisted that the family-friendly nature of the event, cheap food and water options and a hard line on excessive alcohol consumption "would ensure crowd behaviour issues were minimised." Lonergan: "We always want people to have fun but don't tell me for one second that getting pissed as a rat is having fun. You end up with a hangover the next day and people end up doing things that they regret" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 9/5).

The Rio de Janeiro doping control laboratory which had its accreditation revoked last month by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a "hugely embarrassing blow for Brazilian authorities" failed a "blind" quality assessment test, according to David Owen of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. WADA has never "revealed details of the alleged shortcomings that prompted it to act at such a sensitive moment less than 10 months before the 2014 FIFA World Cup." The latest problem related to a "blind" test, according to "a well-placed source." Under WADA's External Quality Assessment Scheme, urine and blood samples are "distributed periodically by WADA to accredited labs to be tested for the presence -- or absence -- of prohibited substances." In a "blind" test, the laboratory knows that the sample "has been supplied under the EQAS scheme, but not what substance it might contain" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 9/4).

The NBA on Thursday launched a youth basketball campaign across Canada in a "bid to capitalise on the country's growing interest in the game" (REUTERS, 9/5). ... Tenri University in Japan "on Thursday announced its elite judo program will cease activities until it takes steps to prevent physical abuse." A day after judo department head Shozo Fujii stepped down, both Tenri Manager Saburo Tosa and team captain, 73 kg world champion Shohei Ono, "also resigned from their posts" (KYODO, 9/5). ... Force India Team Chief Vijay Mallya has warned F1 bosses that "handing race seats to 'pay drivers' is bad for the sport and sends the wrong signal." Mallya, who co-owns the Silverstone-based outfit, said that "he does not believe in recruiting drivers purely based on what kind of budget they can bring the team in advertising revenue" (AFP, 9/5). ... As many as 11 athletes "are awaiting ratification of their National records" by the Athletic Federation of India since April last year. To date, "16 new marks have been established" either in recognized domestic meets or in int'l competition that includes Olympics and World Championships. But "the official recognition is still awaited" (THE HINDU, 9/5).