UK Sport has announced that British Basketball "has been stripped of all Olympic funding after failing to meet its targets," according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. The sport "had won a reprieve last year but neither the men's nor women's team succeeded in meeting the target of qualifying for the world championships." Funding "has also been withdrawn" from synchronized swimming, water polo and weightlifting, while a number of sports "have had their funding increased." UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said, "This is a very significant point on our journey to Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. There is a clear understanding now that our investment is based on merit and must be aligned behind our best medal prospects. To continue funding sports where the evidence is telling us they cannot win a medal by 2020 would be a high risk strategy that compromises opportunities elsewhere" (PA, 2/4).
PERCEIVED BIAS: In London, Ben Rumsby reported like last year, basketball "will be offered the opportunity to earn a reprieve when UK Sport invites it to make representations in the coming weeks." British Basketball claimed UK Sport's system has a "bias" against team sports and that the decision will leave everyone involved in the sport "aghast." British Basketball Performance Chair Roger Moreland said, "The basketball community at home and abroad will be aghast that this can happen again. It seems every barrier to progress for basketball originates in Britain; the very country that should be embracing the progress its basketball teams have achieved" (TELEGRAPH, 2/4). TSN reported NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last month that the London Olympics were a "lost opportunity" and questioned "why the government wasn't backing basketball" (TSN, 2/4).
MORE SPORTS AFFECTED: The BBC reported three Paralympic sports -- wheelchair fencing, goalball and five-a-side football -- "have suffered the same fate." British men's basketball captain Drew Sullivan "hit out at the news on Twitter," accusing the decision-makers of "not having a clue." British Swimming was "equally upset with the decision to cut funding to synchornised swimming and water polo." British Swimming CEO David Sparkes called it "an extremely dark day for women's sport in this country" and said the announcement "could well signal the death of these historic Olympic sports in Britain" (BBC, 2/4).
England & Wales Cricket Board Chair Giles Clarke said that an "overhaul of the International Cricket Council will give countries greater financial security," according to the BBC. ICC members will decide on Saturday "whether to give more power to the 'Big Three' of England, India and Australia." Clarke: "If anyone thinks that international cricket was working, well they are mistaken. If the status quo was so successful, why were so many countries in a perilous financial state?" Pakistan and South Africa have "already registered their opposition in advance of Saturday's meeting in Singapore to discuss -- and possibly vote on -- the proposals." Clarke is "adamant changes are necessary and says all countries will profit financially if England, India and Australia are given more power to negotiate broadcasting and marketing deals on behalf of the ICC" (BBC, 2/4).
Formula E "has committed to paying" at least $24.3M to motorsports governing body FIA over the next 10 years, according to Christian Sylt of AUTOWEEK. The series' launch this September "comes at just the right time for the FIA," as its latest accounts show that it made a net loss of $3.4M on total revenue of $81.5M in '12. Formula E's payment includes a $4.2M share of the proceeds from an estimated $21M investment in December "in Formula E's Hong Kong-based parent company Formula E Holdings (FEH)." The investment "was made by Causeway Media Partners," an investment fund founded by venture capitalist Bob Higgins along with NBA Celtics Managing Partner & CEO Wyc Grousbeck and Celtics investor Mark Wan. The group joins Spanish businessman Enrique Banuelos and Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, the "majority shareholders of FEH." A summary of a '12 agreement between the FIA and Formula E also "reveals that the FIA will receive fees of $67,000 from each of the 10 teams and $135,000 per race which 'should generate an additional revenue of $2 million for the FIA in 2014'" (AUTOWEEK, 2/3).
THE HEAT IS ON: In Miami, Douglas Hanks reported Formula E is "pursuing Miami for an updated version of the Grand Prix races that used to roar through downtown." FEH is "rolling out a series of races for the Formula E’s debut season, and Miami has been tentatively slated for March 14, 2015." However, FEH first "must win city approval for the event" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/3).
F1 drivers "think that the new generation of cars are too slow at the moment, even if they are still hugely challenging to drive," according to Jonathan Noble of AUTOSPORT. The first experience of the turbo V6 machines at Jerez last week showed that "although the new engines are still delivering plenty of horsepower, they are lacking in cornering speed." Sauber driver Adrian Sutil said, "We have lost downforce, around 20-30 percent from last year, and now also the tires are one step harder. It makes it more difficult all the time. ... From the engine side it is very powerful. ... But from the aerodynamics, I think we have to step up a little bit, because F1 should also be quick in the corners" (AUTOSPORT, 2/4).
DOUBLE POINTS: For CITY AM, Christian Sylt wrote F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that "he introduced controversial rules to award double points for the last race of the season in order to help Ferrari compete." Ecclestone said of Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, "He was talking about it and I said, 'It is very simple why we got that [rule]. It is because you aren't performing. If you were doing what you should be doing there wouldn't be any need for it.' He said, 'I know, I know'" (CITY AM, 2/4).
Community sporting groups "will receive an operational funding boost" of more than A$330,000 ($295,000) when the ACT government's Sports & Recreation Grants Program is announced on Wednesday, according to Chris Wilson of the CANBERRA TIMES. Touch Football ACT, a major benefactor of the funding increase, "intends to start an inaugural women's tournament to run in conjunction with a men's rugby league competition, the George Tooke Shield." Of the 56 community sporting organizations to receive A$1.67M in operational funding as part of the program, ACT Ice Skating is the only organization to lose funding (down from A$5,000 to A$3,500) because it received a bonus grant last year. The big winners are Pedal Power ACT (up from A$22,000 to A$90,000), Touch Football ACT and Netball ACT (both up from A$38,000 to A$70,000). The program totals A$2.7M (CANBERRA TIMES, 2/5).
Kenyan athletes might be locked out of int'l championships after a 12-member probe committee appointed by the government to look into doping allegations ran out of funds. Professor Moni Wekesa, who chairs the committee appointed by Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, confirmed that they "have no money to continue with the work" (XINHUA, 2/4). ... The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's Melbourne office "has been reduced from three full-time investigators to one." ASADA, which had doubled its investigative team from six to 12 to cope with cases from National Rugby League sides Essendon and Cronulla, "has lost two of the three investigators who worked on the Essendon case." One's contract expired at the end of '13, while another investigator "left and took up a position in Britain" (THE AGE, 2/5). ... Malaysian Youth & Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin wants the FA of Malaysia "to go after the big fish as well." He commended FAM for slapping a RM5,000 ($1,500) fine on the 17 Kuala Lumpur players found guilty of match-fixing but said that "that should not be the end of the matter." Jamaluddin: "The players were wrong, but FAM must also act against senior officers of the Kuala Lumpur Football Association who exposed their players to bookies, leaving them with no choice but to cooperate" (THE STAR, 2/4).