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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

England's women rugby players are to be paid for the first time following the team's World Cup success in what has been described as a "significant step forward" for the women's game, according to Claire Duffin of the London TELEGRAPH. Twenty players "have been handed professional contracts, allowing them to train full time." The squad "included a plumber, a vet, a lifeguard, several teachers and students, who all trained in their spare time for no pay." Twelve of the women involved in the successful Rugby World Cup squad, including captain Katy Mclean, "are among the women to be given contracts, which will start next month." They "are all now expected to give up their day jobs" (TELEGRAPH, 8/25). The BBC reported the RFU said that "the one-year contracts would be awarded on an annual basis." All 20 contracted players "will train full-time at Twickenham and at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford." They will compete in the '14-15 IRB Women's Sevens World Series, "at which England will attempt to qualify for the Rio Olympics on behalf of Great Britain." Danielle Waterman "gave up her job at an RFU academy for 16-18-year-olds in Gloucester last November to focus on the World Cup." She said, "These contracts haven't happened overnight. The RFU has been working towards this for at least as long as I've been involved with England, which is 11 years." Their training program, led by Sevens coach Simon Middleton and RFU Women's Performance Head Nicola Ponsford, "will include strength and conditioning work, as well as medical, nutritional, lifestyle and psychological support." Ponsford "declined to reveal how much players would be paid," but said that "those giving up their jobs would receive adequate financial support" (BBC, 8/26). In London, Sarah Ebner wrote Ponsford admitted that "some may not find this to be financially rewarding." Ponsford: "I would say that some of them may face a drop in their salary. Essentially what this does is allow them to live, train and compete effectively." Ponsford admitted that there was a "certain amount of nervousness" about people giving up their jobs for full-time sport. Ponsford: "It’s almost a leap of faith from both sides" (LONDON TIMES, 8/25).

Bundesliga ticket prices "have risen by up to 51 percent for the cheapest standing season ticket over the past 10 years," according to Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN. Cheap standing tickets "are a major Bundesliga draw, enabling fans from throughout Europe to regularly attend matches in Germany's top division." But the cost of such tickets "is continuing to increase," and the "11 Freunde" report showed that the cost of terrace season tickets has passed the €200 ($264) mark, "increasing at a rate above inflation over the decade." A season ticket for Dortmund's Südtribüne (South Stand) currently costs €204 ($269), with prices up 38% over the 10-year period. At Schalke, prices have gone up 51%, with the Royal Blues now charging €190.5 ($251). Similar price hikes "apply to the cheapest seats," with Dortmund's prices having gone up by 22% to around €450 ($594) and Schalke close to €450 -- 73% more than 10 seasons ago (ESPN, 8/25). 11 FREUNDE's Arne Steding reported from '98-13, single game standing tickets at Borussia Dortmund "have increased by 90%." Single game seating tickets "have seen an even bigger jump" with up to 139%. The average salary in Germany "has increased by 43% over the same period, with pensions seeing only a 16% boost" (11 FREUNDE, 8/25).

Source: 11 FREUNDE

Source: 11 FREUNDE

Australian Football League Side Essendon "rejected an AFL proposal that would have enabled players accused of doping to voluntarily stand down from club duties and reduce any future ban," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. The suggestion of Essendon players taking out “insurance’’ against future penalties imposed by anti-doping authorities "was put last Thursday" to club President Paul Little by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, "ostensibly" with Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority support. Under the terms discussed, 34 current and former Essendon players accused of taking a banned peptide "would begin a self-imposed suspension after the club’s final match for the season and remain away from the club until mid-January." In a "carefully worded statement," Little confirmed he had met with McLachlan "but denied that a ¬≠Cronulla-style deal was offered." Little said, "A number of things were discussed but no offer was put to the club concerning any arrangements about players making admissions in return for agreed sanctions" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/26). In Sydney, McDonald & Honeysett wrote several former Cronulla players "are poised to begin legal action against the club over its 2011 supplements program once the World Anti-Doping Agency signs off on the year-long bans imposed last Friday." At least two players -- concerned about the health implications of the peptides they were exposed to and the financial implications of the bans -- "engaged lawyers to start litigation against the Sharks." But first "the players want to see if WADA confirms the sanctions" handed down by ASADA (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/26). Also in Sydney, Caroline Wilson wrote the Essendon board "has not yet formally discussed the outcome of a voluntary stand-down of its players, several of whom have left the club but all of whom are still being represented by Queen's Counsel David Grace." McLachlan "denied he had specifically discussed player sanctions with Little" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/25).

PLAYERS 'DUPED': In Melbourne, Brad Walters wrote NRL CEO Dave Smith and his ASADA counterpart, Ben McDevitt, said past and present Cronulla players were "duped" into taking performance-enhancing drugs while at the club in '11. But "if so, by whom?" While the players had always maintained they did not take prohibited substances, 12 members of the Sharks' '11 squad on Friday accepted backdated one-year suspensions for "unknowingly and unwittingly" using the banned peptide CJC-1295 and growth hormone GHRP-6 during a four-week period in '11. However, Cronulla officials "are yet to publicly acknowledge that those substances were part of a doping regime at the club in 2011 and no one at the Sharks, the NRL or ASADA has explained who was in charge of that program or how the substances were sourced and administered" (THE AGE, 8/25).

The PGA Tour announced the grand opening of The Presidents Cup 2015 offices within the G-Tower Building, located in the Songdo Int'l Business District in Incheon City. PGA Tour VP & Exec Dir of The Presidents Cup Matt Kamienski relocated to Korea to lead the organizational efforts of the event, which will be played in Asia for the first time in its history in Oct. '15. Kamienski served as exec director of the '11 event in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and the '13 event in Dublin/Columbus, Ohio. Joining Kamienski as tournament director is Wonsup Mike Kim. Kim began his career in the golf industry as a sports reporter with the Munwha Daily News before taking a position with IMG Korea as a director in its golf division (PGA Tour). ... Sydney's indigenous stars "may have been racially vilified in two separate incidents on Sunday," as Australian Football League side Western Bulldogs canceled the membership of a fan for "alleged racist taunts directed towards Lance Franklin and Adam Goodes." As Franklin publicly applauded fans for reporting abuse to Etihad Stadium authorities, the Bulldogs "launched an investigation into a second member over another matter" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/25). ... Basketball Federation of India Associate Secretary Ashok Rangeen said that FIBA "would review its ban on turbans" at a session in Seville, Spain, on Aug. 27 and, in the meantime, has allowed Sikh players to wear slightly-modified headgear during the interim period (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 8/23).