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Volume 6 No. 211

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The Austrian National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) "is planning to conduct around 500 blood tests annually," according to the KURIER. NADA's goal for '14 "is to expand its biological passport program." The program "is expected to include blood profiles and steroid profiles of 80-100 of Austria's elite athletes." In addition, the number of blood tests "is expected to increase to 500 per year." Federal and state goverments "have increased the agency's funding" by another €200,000 ($276,000) to conduct the increased number of tests. In '13, the NADA "was able to increase its number of tests by about 3.5% in comparison to the previous year." The agency conducted a total of 1,740 tests (1,362 urine tests, 378 blood tests) in '13 (KURIER, 3/21).

Nearly "two years of wrangling and negotiation will come to an end this week with the announcement of the successor to the Heineken Cup, an elite competition which is likely to be called the European Rugby Champions Cup," according to Steve James of the London TELEGRAPH. It had "been hoped that final agreement would have been made at the end of last week, but the finer details, especially the division of revenue among the RaboDirect Pro12 teams, have taken longer than expected." Crucially, agreement between the "rival broadcasters, Sky and BT, appears to have been reached on the key issue of screening games involving English clubs, where more viewers are guaranteed." On Wednesday, a meeting will be held in Dublin of the shareholders of European Rugby Cup Limited, and on Thursday a board meeting. With the TV deal "hopefully completed by then, it is likely that ERC will release money owed to clubs for participating in this year's competition." ERC had been "withholding the money for fear of litigation from Sky" (TELEGRAPH, 3/24).

Years of dispute between two Indonesian national sports bodies have "pushed the Sports Ministry to step in to lay down clear boundaries of authority over the country's developments in sports, which has become a major problem among the two organizations," according to Ami Afriatni of the JAKARTA GLOBE. On Thursday, the ministry "officially announced a regulation, signed March 10, that will provide a guideline for the National Sports Committee (KONI) and Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) in working together in further developing the nation’s sports programs." Indonesia Youth & Sports Minister Roy Suryo said that the new rule is "expected to mend the rift between the two sporting bodies as the minister has little time remaining in his term" (JAKARTA GLOBE, 3/22).

Anticipation around Indian Super League football "seems to be building with the organisers receiving positive response from about 30 interested parties," according to the PTI. Tournament organizer IMG-Reliance said in a statement, "In terms of the numbers, this is by far the highest level of interest that any similar franchise-based sports property has garnered in India." Some of the "big names from the country's corporate world, Bollywood biggies and present sports team owners have come forward with a wish to be part of the event that promises big-ticket action." The nine cities "in the reckoning" are Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. Eight "will be shortlisted." Sources indicated "each team will have to present a robust business plan that includes developing grassroots talent in their city and having an academy by the next five years." The ISL also "aims to reach to one million school kids in the country." It was "also said that each of the franchise owners" will have to spend Rs 2 crore ($327,000) on "grassroot development every year" (PTI, 3/23).

A rookie draft "is being considered" by the National Rugby League and "will be discussed further by a new panel set up to review the salary cap each season," according to Brad Walter of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The draft for players with limited or no NRL experience "is one of several key proposals on the table after a wide-ranging review of the cap which has already led to the establishment of an appeals process, changes to the long-serving player allowance and increases in third-party agreements and the second-tier salary cap." Others include "the introduction of a transfer window for signing players from other clubs and a salary cap for coaching staff." A draft "would not neccesarily help clubs that produce large numbers of juniors to retain them, but they would save money on development and it is expected that the NRL would take over much of the cost and responsibility for doing so." NRL officials "declined to discuss how the system they are considering would work until an announcement on salary cap changes next month" (SMH, 3/24).

Red Bull Founder & Owner Dietrich Mateschitz "has joined the critics of F1's new rules and regulations," according to the SID. Mateschitz said that "F1 should again be turned into what it was: the pinnacle of motorsports." He added that F1 "is neither intended to set new gas milage records, nor to have conversations in a whisper tone during a race." Mateschitz also thinks "it is completely preposterous that the series is almost a second slower than last year, and that the development series GP2 partially offers more motorsports and fight and almost produces similar times to F1, with only a fraction of the budget" (SID, 3/23).

The recent change of political regime in Ukraine and secession of the Crimea peninsular region to Russia are taking a toll on the country's sports industry. The future of several major sports clubs owned by tycoons linked to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych is uncertain, and so are those of two football squads in Ukraine's top tier. A FC Sevastopol spokesperson declined to comment on the financial situation or the future of the squad based in Sevastopol, a city that is home to a Russian navy base in Crimea. However, the president of Sevastopol already left the exec committee of the Ukrainian Football Federation. A spokesperson for another Crimean squad, Tavria, said that pulling out of the Ukrainian league and joining the Russian league is not an issue that could be resolved overnight. The spokesperson said, "We are determined to do everything we can to finish this season in the Ukrainian league." Meanwhile, financial reasons could prevent Tavria from finishing the season at all. Crimea's first Deputy PM Rustam Temirgaliyev was quoted by R-Sport as saying that funding for the squad has been cut. "Tavria's sponsor is a well-known Ukrainian tycoon who is now having problems with the law," he said, apparently referring to Dmitry Firtash, who was recently detained in Vienna and is being held for possible extradition to the U.S. under a corruption investigation. Firtash is not the only Ukrainian football club owner who has faced problems after Yanukovych's regime collapsed. Another entrepreneur close to Yanukovych was Metallist Kharkov Owner and President Sergei Kurchenko. Ukrainian authorities have recently issued an int'l arrest warrant for Kurchenko, who left the country in late February, his whereabouts being unknown ever since. He is being suspected of misappropriation of funds. As the financial prospects of the club became unclear, several major players and coach Miron Markevich left the squad. Kurchenko's disappearance has also had an impact on Ukraine's decision to pull out of hosting EuroBasket 2015, recently announced by the organizational committee. Kurchenko had reportedly planned to invest about $45M in preparations for the event. While no one has stepped in to replace him, the government does not have enough cash to foot the bill. At the same time, nearly all foreign players left FC Chernomorets Odessa, owned by oligarch Leonid Klimov, a member of Yanukovych's Party of Regions. A source familiar with the situation in Ukrainian football told SBD Global that the budget of Chernomorets had been substantially reduced and the squad could cease to exist this coming summer, while the future of four more first-tier football clubs owned by people associated with the Party of Regions is up in the clouds. Meanwhile, the situation with Olympic sports funded by the government, unlike football, basketball and ice hockey, which attracted private investors, is even more difficult as the government is planning a set of austerity measures.
Vladimir Kozlov is a writer in Moscow.

Under the Australian Football League's increased focus on integrity, clubs "are required to register the personal details of recruiting scouts working as little as a few hours a week with the league." The AFL "will also start cross-checking which paid club staff also have roles with state league and junior clubs, as it begins a review of the national talent pathway program" (THE AGE, 3/24). ... Malaysia's Youth and Sports Ministry "has announced that Sarawak will host aquatic events during the 2017 SEA Games" (THE STAR, 3/23).