As many as 28 players on every Australian Football League club list "could be hair-tested for drug use this off-season after changes to the leagues illicit drug code," according to Jon Ralph of the HERALD SUN. The league has told clubs that 18 players from every club "will be hair-tested" -- up from 12 last year-- with clubs "able to pay for testing of 10 more players." That extra hair-testing would cost A$200 ($187) for each test. Hair-testing comes after players "return from off-season holidays, and can establish drug use dating back three months." Positive hair-tests "do not result in a drug strike but see players target-tested in the subsequent season." Those players "are also subjected to an increased level of counselling with AFL medical officials." It comes as it was confirmed the AFL "has already alerted many clubs about their specific drugs profile after changes to the illicit drugs policy" (HERALD SUN, 9/12).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The standoff between the A-League and its referees "is continuing a month before the start of the new season, with the Football Federation claiming a deal over their contracts had been done, only for the referees to deny it," according to Tom Smithies of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. After weeks of talks over what the match officials have termed "antiquated" conditions, with the threat of senior officials being excluded from the competition's kickoff next month, A-League President Damien De Bohun released a statement saying that "agreement had been reached with all the match officials on a variety of issues." However, sports lawyer Tony Dempsey, speaking on behalf of the trade body formed by the referees to advance their interests, later issued a denial, saying, "No deal has yet been done. We are considering all legal options" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/11).
The LPGA Evian Championship has "built a reputation among pros for its first-class presentation and amenities, but now there’s a whole new standard to measure up to in its first year as an officially designated major," according to Randall Mell of GOLF CHANNEL. For a "number of years now, this event has felt like a major for the Europeans in the LPGA ranks," but there still is "scrutiny over whether this starlet will be a supreme enough examination to be worthy of its new status." The event, founded in '94, became a co-sanctioned LPGA event in '00, with the LPGA "announcing two years ago that it would be a major." The purse is "impressive" at $3.25M, equaling the U.S. Women’s Open as the "richest on tour." The largest "question looming over Evian’s worthiness as a major is the redesign of the Evian Resort Golf Club" in Evian-les-Bains, France. It was an $8M "undertaking over the last year," and now is a "different and more substantial test that architect Steve Smyers and European Golf Design created in their collaborative effort." Early reviews are that the course is "another year from being what Evian and the architects imagined." The event's elevation to major championship status is the result of Groupe Danone CEO Franck Riboud -- whose company owns Evian -- and his "ambitious vision," as well as LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan’s "bold leadership." Whan said, "I grinded over this a long time. If you asked me before I became commissioner how I would stand on designating a fifth major, I probably wouldn’t have been in favor of it." He added, "There was a list of 10 things I really thought kept this tournament from being a legitimate major. ... To Evian’s credit, we knocked all 10 off the list" (GOLF CHANNEL, 9/10).
RISK & REWARD: GOLF DIGEST's Ron Sirak wrote if there is "one thing Riboud has proven over the years ... it's that money is no object." Smyers and his crew from European Golf Design "literally worked under the snow and in a little more than 13 months." One thing Smyers has done is "open up the sightlines for the fans," as trees were removed, spectator mounds "were created and bleachers have been eliminated." But Sirak wrote, "Make no mistake about it, there is a lot of risk involved in the Evian Championship. Not everyone liked the idea of a fifth major, saying it messes with the history books." Some felt that with the Ricoh Women's British Open "already in Europe, a new major -- if there were to be one -- should go to Asia" (GOLF DIGEST, 9/9).
MAJOR IMPLICATIONS: GOLF CHANNEL's Mell noted to accommodate Evian as a major, the LPGA "moved the event to September, spreading out its biggest events with the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, the Wegmans LPGA Championship in early June, the U.S. Women’s Open in late June and both the Ricoh Women’s British Open and Solheim Cup in August." Golfer Angela Stanford said of it being the fifth major, “I’m OK with it. But you’re talking to someone who hasn’t won a major. It just gives me another chance" (GOLF CHANNEL, 9/10).
The National Rugby League wants to "ban agents from approaching juniors until they turn 18," according to Chris Garry of the COURIER MAIL. A document compiled by NRL COO Jim Doyle, dubbed the "Doyle Dossier," reveals a "major push from NRL clubs to ban contact with agents until the player is officially an adult." There is "growing unrest from NRL clubs at the influence agents hold over their players." Doyle's Elite Pathway Update dossier reveals NRL clubs see "player managers as a 'threat' and claim they are affecting the welfare of teenagers." Until this year, there were "few rules governing an agent’s approach to a talented junior." The NRL this season ruled that a junior "must be 15 before contact with an agent was allowed, a law which was widely accepted by player managers" (COURIER MAIL, 9/12).
The J. League "will adopt a two-stage format with postseason play to determine the league champion" starting in '15 (KYODO, 9/11). ... India "has refused visa to Pakistani team, Faisalabad Wolves," to participate in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament scheduled to begin on Tuesday. A government source said, "As a matter of abundance precaution and caution in terms of safety and security, the government did not give green signal for the cricket team’s visit" (PTI, 9/11).