F1 owners CVC Capital Partners "are to sell a large part" of their controlling 35.5% stake in the sport as they "face up to life after" CEO Bernie Ecclestone, according to Paul Weaver of the London GUARDIAN. The new investors will “have a view on the value of the sport,” according to an insider. Decision makers at CVC have decided that Ecclestone "must go even if he wins his court case in Munich, where he is fighting bribery charges." They are convinced that Ecclestone, who will be 84 in October, "will continue to be an embarrassment, with HM Revenue and Customs likely to ask further questions about his complex tax affairs, which formed the basis of a Panorama investigation." The identity of Ecclestone’s successor "is unknown," but reports that it could be Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner "are wide of the mark." It is felt that he "does not have the corporate background that is required for the job" (GUARDIAN, 7/3).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) "has revealed plans to tighten up anti-doping controls at this year's Tour de France," which begins on Saturday in Leeds, according to the London INDEPENDENT. Those plans "consist of a new agreement" between the Agence Francaise de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation, the independent body mandated by the UCI to carry out the fight against doping in cycling. Riders participating in the Tour de France "will undergo a number of stringent checks, including blood checks for all ahead of the race." In addition, the UCI "has confirmed that certain riders will be target-tested as part of a joint decision between the CADF and AFLD." Some blood samples "will also be kept, possibly for several years to leave the possibility open for re-testing with developing technology." One of UCI President Brian Cookson's key pledges after replacing Pat McQuaid in September "was to make cycling's anti-doping programme completely independent of the UCI." This latest news "will be seen as a step in the right direction towards that aim" (INDEPENDENT, 7/3). REUTERS' Julien Pretot reported the agreement "is an extension of the one that was in place for last year's race, which implies blood tests on every rider before the start as well as targeted testing during the race." There "was no positive test on the 2013 Tour de France" after 622 -- 443 blood and 179 urine -- were collected during the three-week race (REUTERS, 7/3).
The National Rugby League has been left "red-faced after they were forced to cancel the release of their end-of-season schedule at the last minute due to player welfare oversights," according to Ben Horne of the CANBERRA TIMES. There were "at least two instances -- involving Wests Tigers and Manly -- where clubs were given only a four-day turnaround between matches," something which is "unacceptable under the game's collective bargaining agreement." The NRL announced that the schedule for the final six rounds of the regular season "had now been completed and would be released on Friday." But clubs had been promoting that they would "go live to members and fans on social media at 11am on Thursday with details of the previously unlisted dates and kick-off times between rounds 21-26." As late as 10:50am local time on Thursday, an "urgent memo was issued by the NRL for clubs to refrain from releasing details of the proposed draw." South Sydney had "already emailed members with what they thought was the final product." Nonetheless, "it was an embarrassing delay" (CANBERRA TIMES, 7/3).
BROADCASTING ISSUES: In Sydney, Brad Walter wrote at the "heart of the problem is the way the broadcasters choose the matches, Channel Nine getting the first, second and fourth picks and Fox Sports having the third, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth." Under the previous TV agreement, the NRL would "devise a draw based on the requests of clubs but leave just the kick-off times to be determined by the broadcasters." The current A$1B ($930,000) deal gives Nine and Fox Sports almost total say. Nine "initially wanted the round-23 match between Parramatta and Canterbury at ANZ Stadium" to be played on Thursday, Aug. 14, but Eels officials complained that their team would have "only three days to prepare as they were playing in Darwin the previous Saturday and then hosting an NRL fan day before returning to Sydney." As a result, the Eels-Bulldogs match will now be played on Aug. 15, after Nine agreed to "swap it with the South Sydney-Brisbane game" (SMH, 7/4).
PLAYERS MISBEHAVING: In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported the NRL's salary cap changes for next year include a "no dickheads policy" that allows clubs to "sack misbehaving players without being financially penalised for doing so." Cronulla had to make the "agonising decision to get rid of their star playmaker, Todd Carney, after he was embroiled in another controversy, this time a lewd photo that went viral." Under the "no dickheads policy," players can be terminated "only in consultation with the integrity unit to ensure clubs do not abuse the rule to get rid of underperformers" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/3).
Australian Football League side Essendon Chair Paul Little has described as "worse than irresponsible" comments by the AFL's most senior medical official warning of an "increased cancer risk to players exposed to the club's 2012 season supplement program," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. Little on Thursday contacted AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan to "voice his concerns" about Dr. Peter Harcourt's comments at an anti-doping conference in Europe in which he claimed that players had "'passively' accepted the injections regime" and were facing "potential hormonal issues or cancers" as a consequence. Little said that the club "was now seeking advice from other medical experts to ease the concerns of players and their families" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/3). In Melbourne, Samantha Lane reported the "surfacing of Harcourt's conference address triggered a stinging public rebuke" from acting AFLPA CEO Ian Prendergast on Thursday, that was "subsequently followed up behind closed doors." The talks "involved AFL integrity officer Brett Clothier and AFLPA legal representative Brett Murphy, but while acknowledging there had been follow-up, AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said the league had no comment" (THE AGE, 7/3).
The Cambodian Basketball League, "set to roll" at the indoor hall of the Olympic Stadium on Saturday, "will have 10 teams in the fray instead of the initially planned 12," according to HS Manjunath of the PHNOM PENH POST. The number of competing teams "has been kept at 10 to enhance the qualitative level of each roster so that the intensity of competition also increases." Under a newly introduced tournament stipulation to boost local talent, "every team must have at least three Cambodian players in its ranks." The Cambodian Basketball Federation "has maintained that shifting the venue this season from Beeline Arena situated in the outskirts of Phnom Penh to a centrally located Olympic Stadium should be of great convenience to players, officials and fans" (PHNOM PENH POST, 7/3).