Clubs "have been angered" by an Australian Football League directive that "they can no longer interview potential draftees unless they notify the league in advance," according to Emma Quayle of THE AGE. In a tightening of draft rules aimed at protecting player welfare, clubs "have been warned that they risk being investigated unless they let the AFL know where and when they plan to meet with any teenage prospects." Clubs that "use aggressive interviewing techniques are on notice, with the AFL also clamping down on those who defy existing rules by conducting their own medical, physical or psychological evaluations of players." One recruiting manager said, "If I've got a player I think no one else knows about, there's no way I'm telling the AFL I'm talking to him. I'll take the fine." Under the tightened rules, clubs must email AFL Talent Academies Manager Michael Ablett before they intend to conduct any "structured" interviews. Ablett said, "We're not trying to prevent clubs from working as hard as they can or from looking for a competitive edge. This is about putting strong guidelines in place for the betterment of the players." He added, "We've been aware over the past few years that whether it be psychological, physical or medical testing, clubs have been doing things that may be outside protocol, and we're now much better resourced to take action" (THE AGE, 3/20).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
F1 team Red Bull has formally confirmed its intention "to appeal against Daniel Ricciardo's disqualification from Sunday's Australian Grand Prix," according to the London TELEGRAPH. Ricciardo "had initally thrilled his home crowd at Melbourne's Albert Park in finishing runner-up to Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, only for the stewards to later exclude him from the race classification due to a technical fuel infringement with his Red Bull." After immediately serving notice of its intention to appeal, the team "were then given 96 hours to process their application, doing so just ahead of Thursday's deadline via the Austrian motor sport federation." A hearing "will now go before the FIA's Court of Appeal at a date yet to be determined" (TELEGRAPH, 3/20). The BBC's Andrew Benson reported this year, F1 engines "must have a fuel-flow rate of no more than 100kg/h at full throttle." It is the first year of a new engine formula, which "has seen the introduction of 1.6-litre V6 hybrids with a limited fuel allowance" (BBC, 3/20).
New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league's campaign for int'l growth will not slow down under his leadership. Asked if he would continue former Commissioner David Stern's zeal for int'l growth, Silver said, "No question. And I would just say, it's not a zero sum game. Wins and losses are, but it's not as if it's China versus spending more time promoting the game in the United States. We have a terrific CEO in David Shoemaker who runs NBA China. We have 135 people on the ground there. We're probably the No. 1 sport in China right now. I wouldn't be doing my job if I weren't focused on the enormous opportunity in China." In an interview as part of the program of the IMG World Congress of Sports in Dana Point, Calif., Silver added that the league's int'l aspirations do not end at the Chinese border. Silver said, "In India, we have an owner, Vivek Ranadive, who was born in Mumbai. We have a huge opportunity in that billion-plus country." And the league has designs on more than just Asia. Silver: "I traveled last summer to our Basketball Without Borders in Johannesburg, South Africa. (We have) another big, big opportunity on that continent, so I'm very focused on international."
UK Sport officials "came out fighting" and said that "it would have been a waste of taxpayers’ money to invest in basketball," according to Broadbent & Burrows of the LONDON TIMES. It was confirmed Wednesday that basketball, women’s water polo and synchronised swimming would receive no funding for the 2016 Rio Olympics. As a result, British Swimming CEO David Sparkes "called for a Government review of the funding system for elite sport." British Basketball Performance Chair Roger Moreland "suggested that the funding system as it stands contains an implicit bias against team sports." Moreland: “Winning medals now and in the future should be celebrated, but we need to consider its impact. Basketball has a grassroots base bigger than any other British Olympic team sport. A funding system with nearly £350 million pounds available for elite sport cannot be working to the best of its ability, if it can leave sports like basketball behind.” However, UK Sport Chair Rod Carr "denied that there was any gender or class bias in any of the decisions, and said basketball, the most controversial loser, simply had no chance of winning a medal by 2024." Carr: “To carry it [funding] through to 2024 would amount to £33 million,” he said of the decision on basketball. “That’s a lot of public money with no certainty of qualifying, let alone winning a medal" (LONDON TIMES, 3/20).
V8 Supercars' controversial new restart rules "will be changed ahead of next weekend's championship round in Tasmania." The post-Safety Car procedure "was heavily criticised after its first run of the year at the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide last month." The rules force the cars "to run in single file and stay under 60km/h until the race leader chooses to hit top speed within an allocated 'acceleration zone'" (AAP, 3/20). ... New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew "has denied accusations of a 'cover-up' after revealing that All Blacks backs Cory Jane and Israel Dagg had misused sleeping pills in a 'silly' competition ahead of the quarter-final against Argentina." The abuse of prescription drugs "has been a hot issue in New Zealand" (REUTERS, 3/20). ... National Rugby League Cronulla Chair Damian Keogh "has accused Canterbury of inflating the player market and called for changes to the NRL transfer system after losing Andrew Fifita and Michael Lichaa to the Bulldogs" on respective deals worth A$850,000 ($768,000) and A$350,000 a season (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 3/20).