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Volume 10 No. 25

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Cuba has announced that its athletes will "be able to sign contracts with foreign professional sports leagues," according to Eva Saiz of EL PAIS. Following the Cuban national baseball tournament, the law "will go into effect in November for baseball players" and on Jan. 1 for all other Cuban athletes. The Cuban government's approved measures "will mean an economic improvement for athletes and coaches." The decision "is looking to decrease the number of defections, especially to the U.S. to play in the MLB." The new law will allow "athletes to sign contracts with foreign leagues as long as they are in Cuba for annual national tournaments." The regulation "is considered one of the most radical economic reforms that the Cuban government has made in recent months." Cuban athletes will "keep their earnings from contracts with foreign leagues as long as they pay taxes on the island and athletes will be guaranteed compensation from the state for accomplishments in national and int'l competitions, in addition to a pension when they conclude their athletic careers." Various Japanese and Mexican baseball leagues "have welcomed the decision, aware that this opening could revolutionize their respective tournaments." Former Cuban Olympic baseball player Omar Linares, "who is now a coach of Mexican Baseball League side Rojos Aguilas de Veracruz," said, "I sincerely believe that this will give a great opportunity to Cuban athletes." What "remains unclear is to what degree Cuban baseball players will be able to join the MLB, taking into account the fact that embargo restrictions limit, among other things, the amount of money that can be transferred to Cuba" (EL PAIS, 9/27).

'VERY BIG IMPACT': In N.Y., Randal Archibold reported the news is "raising the prospect of a flood of new talent around the world," but possibly not much in the U.S. Cuba has long sought to "keep its athletes at home in quasi-amateur leagues, usually prohibiting them from cashing in on multimillion-dollar contracts abroad." The rule change follows a "general loosening of immigration restrictions, even allowing Cubans critical of the government to travel overseas." Analysts said that the move "was devised more to cash in on contracts in Mexico, Japan, South Korea and other countries that have more normal ties with Cuba." In Cuba, "there was a lot of talk that it would expand options for players." Most "live on state wages that pay $20 a month." Cuban baseball writer Sigfredo Barros said that overall the rule change "will have a very big impact, very positive" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/27).

U.S. POLICY NOT CHANGING: U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control spokesperson John Sullivan said, "Our policy has not changed. Cuban players need to be unblocked by a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control in order to play for the MLB. In order to qualify, the players must prove that they have permanent residency outside of Cuba" (AP, 9/27).

Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan won a third term in office Sunday "even though a Supreme Court order bars him from taking charge immediately due to a corruption scandal," according to the AFP. The 68-year-old cement tycoon, "one of the most powerful men in world cricket, was elected unopposed for another year" at the annual meeting of the BCCI in Chennai. The Supreme Court had on Friday "barred Srinivasan from taking charge until it has ruled on a petition against him over a spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League." A cricket body in the eastern state of Bihar which is not affiliated to the BCCI "had asked the court to prevent Srinivasan from heading the BCCI on moral grounds because his son-in-law had been charged in the scandal" (AFP, 9/29). IANS reported Srinivasan said that "he was not taking charge as per the directions of the Supreme Court." Srinivasan: "Leave me alone. ... I don't want to comment anything today. I have won unopposed but I am not taking charge. I have asked the new office bearers to take charge. I am awaiting the Supreme Court order. There are lot of things on me now" (IANS, 9/29).

DALMIYA LEFT OUT: The PTI reported former Int'l Cricket Council and BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya "has been left in the lurch." The veteran administrator "has been re-named as the chairman of the North East Development Committee considered to be one of the least active sub-committees." Cricket Association of Bengal joint secretaries Subir Ganguly and Sujan Mukherjee "were inducted into the all-powerful IPL governing council" and NCA sub-committees, respectively. Treasurer Biswarup Dey "has been elevated" from National Cricket Academy sub-committee to finance committee under Gokaraju Gangaraju of the Andhra Cricket Association. A senior BCCI official said, "Ideally, Mr. Dalmiya shouldn't have accepted the post of North East development committee chief. But refusing Srinivasan is rubbing him the wrong way and the consequences wouldn't be that great for Bengal cricket. But no doubt this has been humiliating for him (Dalmiya) and he knows that well" (PTI, 9/29).

British Cycling President Brian Cookson has been elected Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) president at the UCI's annual congress in Florence, Italy. Cookson won with 24 votes out of a total of 42 voting delegates, compared to 18 for outgoing UCI President Pat McQuaid. Cookson said, "I would like to thank-you for all of the trust that you have placed in me today. The real work starts now. I would call on the global cycling community to unite" (UCI). In London, Robin Scott-Elliot reported after more than four hours of "chaotic, occasionally angry and frequently confusing toing and froing among the delegates" over whether McQuaid was eligible to "even stand again for office, Cookson dramatically stood up and declared he had had enough and the vote should proceed." Inside Florence's Palazzo Vecchio, delegates from around the cycling world "argued over the election process and, at one stage, even over the method of voting, taking a vote on whether the next vote should be made in secret." There were "regular interruptions as lawyers rushed off stage" to consult the UCI's constitution (INDEPENDENT, 9/27).

ROBERTSON FIRST TO CONGRATULATE: The PA's Martyn Ziegler reported U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson "was among the first to congratulate Cookson." Robertson said, "I congratulate Brian Cookson on becoming the president of the UCI. Cycling in Britain has never been in a better place as it is right now, on both participation and elite fronts, and Brian deserves a lot of credit for that" (PA, 9/27).

ARMSTRONG REINSTATEMENT POSSIBLE: In London, William Fotheringham reported Cookson, "in his first moves as UCI president, has said that disgraced Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong might be able to return to the cycling fold if the Texan should divulge all that he knows about past doping activities." Cookson: "I hope that he is going to tell the complete truth" (GUARDIAN, 9/28). The AP's Andrew Dampf reported Armstrong "sent a one-word tweet" that said, "Hallelujah." Cookson also "wants to set up a so-called 'truth and reconciliation' commission to encourage riders, team officials and others with knowledge of cycling’s doping past to come forward." He has "warned that team managers who have been tied to or admitted doping during their careers as athletes could no longer have a place in the sport" (AP, 9/27).

'THAT'S LIFE': The BBC reported McQuaid, 64, "was seeking a third term in the role he had held" since '05. McQuaid: "That's life, that's the way it goes. Congress has decided" (BBC, 9/27).

POWER GAMES OVER: In London, Owen Slot reported the election of Cookson "may turn out to be the moment that cycling at last started to win back its credibility." McQuaid's problem was that his presidency "was rooted in the troubled past, synonymous with cycling’s ills and peppered with allegations that he was party to the cover-up and corruption that allowed the Lance Armstrong era to survive so long" (LONDON TIMES, 9/28).

VP'S APPOINTED: CYCLING NEWS reported Cookson "has announced the three vice presidents he has entrusted to help reform the sport under his watch." For the next four years, the Oceania Federation's Tracey Gaudry, the European Federation's David Lappartient and the African federation's Mohamed Wagih Azzam "will serve under Cookson" (CYCLING NEWS, 9/29).

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "has handed over a bonanza payout to Formula One’s ruling body that could be worth as much as" £170M ($274M), according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Motorsports governing body  FIA announced Friday that "it has finally approved the deal, known as the Concorde Agreement," with Ecclestone after months of delays. Ecclestone "has promised a small fortune in payments" worth $200M over the eight years of the Concorde Agreement up until '20, "as well as a cash sweetener" worth more than £3M ($4.8M) simply to sign the deal. There is also the offer of a 1% share stake in the F1 business, if and when "it is floated on the Singapore Stock Exchange." That alone could be worth $70M to the FIA at present estimates. It is a dream deal that F1 "has been sweating on and takes the sport closer to the finalising of the tripartite commercial contract." The "last piece of the jigsaw is expected to be in place by next week," because the Marussia team has "now been offered commercial terms in line with" the 10 others in the sport (LONDON TIMES, 9/28).

UAE Automobile & Touring Club President Mohammed Ben Sulayem confirmed that "he is contemplating running in the upcoming FIA presidential elections, a decision that could make the Emirati the most powerful man in world motorsports," according to Gary Meenaghan of THE NATIONAL. He is preparing to run against FIA President Jean Todt, "the Frenchman who has led the governing body for global motorsport since October 2009" (THE NATIONAL, 9/27). In Dubai, Leslie Wilson wrote while it had been widely publicized that the post would be contested by Todt and Britain's David Ward, Ben Sulayem's speculated candidacy "has added a whole new dimension to the recent developments." A spokesperson for Ben Sulayem said, "Dr. Mohammad Bin Sulayem is aware of the speculation regarding the FIA presidency and it can be confirmed that he has been contacted in recent weeks by a number of ASC's (National sporting authority) from around the world who have expressed a desire for him to run as a candidate." reported that F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "had hinted that a third contender might be waiting in the wings" (GULF NEWS, 9/26).

On Sept. 16, after a pair of National Basketball League preseason games wrapped up, "four players came into the press room at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2 in suits to announce something the nation's sport had never seen before," according to Kaz Nagatsuka of the JAPAN TIMES. They were there "to inform the media members that they had formed a players association." Toyota Motors Alvark Tokyo guard Yusuke Okada "proposed the idea and is the president of the group, which is officially called the Japan Basketball Players Association." The JBPA will start with Japanese players in the NBL, "which enters its inaugural season as it reconfigures from its predecessor, the Japan Basketball League." The '13-14 campaign of the new circuit tipped off Saturday. Okada said that the "majority of the Japanese players in the NBL agreed to join the JBPA and would do so beginning this season." Okada emphasized that the players did not establish the JBPA "in order to negotiate work circumstances including their salaries," therefore it is not a labor union. It "is registered as a general incorporated association, which legally has no rights to argue on labor disputes." Okada: "We thought we needed to change our ways of thinking. We players have to be involved in making Japan's basketball scene better" (JAPAN TIMES, 9/27).

Int'l Cricket Council CEO Dave Richardson said that the ICC "does not like the current dispute" between the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Cricket South Africa (PTI, 9/29). ... Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland "is confident the substantial revamp of the domestic one-day series into a month-long carnival-style tournament will spark a resurgence in support for the beleagured form of the game" (THE AGE, 9/29). ... Nigeria Basketball Federation President Tijani Umar said that Nigeria could make improvement in its basketball "if adequate funds were provided" (XINHUA, 9/29).