Ireland, France and South Africa all "promised millions in the bank," great stadiums and "the best tournament ever" before "figuratively plucking on the emotional heartstrings as they sought to earn the right to host" the 2023 Rugby World Cup, according to Mitch Phillips of REUTERS. Ireland, which has never been the main host, is the bookmaker’s favorite, ahead of South Africa, which hosted a tournament "against an extraordinary emotional, social and political backdrop" in '95. France was "the outsider ahead of Monday's presentations in London." The host nation for the 10th edition of the event will be announced on Nov. 15, though it would be a "huge surprise" if the World Rugby Council were to "go against the World Cup board," which will declare its recommended candidate on Oct. 31. The 2015 World Cup in England "set records in terms of ticket sales, TV viewing figures and income" but Japan, the host of the first Asian World Cup in '19, "will make much less money." Consequently, "cash was a big feature" of all three '23 bids, "with each making a big issue of their governmental financial securities and guaranteed profits, as well as great existing stadiums and minimal travel" -- meaning points of difference "needed to be found elsewhere" (REUTERS, 9/25).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The Int'l Cricket Council "looks set to allow countries to choose whether Test matches last four or five days," according to Elizabeth Ammon of the LONDON TIMES. There is "general support across the national boards for the introduction of four-day Tests," although it is understood that there is no agreement within the BCCI on its stance because of "fears on the impact" on TV revenue. However, it is anticipated that there would be "almost universal support for an approach that gives some flexibility on the length of Tests, allowing bigger, money-making series such as the Ashes to remain as five-day Tests." It is understood that the England & Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia favor this approach. The ICC board will meet in October and is "likely to give the go-ahead" to South Africa's proposed four-day Test match against Zimbabwe, starting on Boxing Day, "as a trial." The board will also be discussing the int'l schedule from '20 onward (LONDON TIMES, 9/25).
WADA will begin an audit of Russia's anti-doping program this week as it "prepares to make a recommendation on whether to reinstate the Russian agency," the organization said on Sunday, according to Gene Cherry of REUTERS. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has been suspended by WADA since a report published in Nov. '15, led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, "found evidence of state-sponsored doping and accused it of systematically violating anti-doping regulations." WADA's compliance review committee will hold a special meeting on Oct. 24 to hear a report on the audit, the anti-doping agency said in a statement after its exec board met in Paris. The review committee will then make a recommendation at WADA's board meeting in November on whether to reinstate RUSADA (REUTERS, 9/24). The AFP reported WADA's exec committee said that it was emphasizing three points:
- The responsible authorities for anti-doping in Russia must "publically accept the reported outcomes of the McLaren Investigation."
- The Russian Government "must provide access for appropriate entities to the stored urine samples in the Moscow Laboratory." These samples are "sealed off" due to a federal investigation.
- WADA must audit RUSADA this week (AFP, 9/25).
The National Rugby League lifted a year-long betting ban on Holden Cup matches "to allow wagering on the competition's grand final." The "one-off reintroduction of betting on the National Youth Competition" means bookmakers will be allowed to offer markets on the U20 "showpiece" between Parramatta and Manly. League Central "cracked down on a number of exotic betting options offered on NRL matches and outlawed all wagering on underage matches" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 9/25).
Caulfield Cup-winning trainer Ciaron Maher has had his license suspended for six months and been fined A$75,000 ($59,500) after he admitted that he "ought to have known that five horses that he prepared were owned by convicted conman Peter Foster." Maher claimed that he did not know about Foster's involvement in the horses "but admitted he should have asked more questions about the bona fides of them, especially group 1 winner Azkadellia." Maher pleaded guilty to a charge of "conduct prejudicial to the image, interests or welfare of racing" (SMH, 9/25).
All racehorses "are likely to be fitted with a GPS-style tracking device as racing explores the next generation of technology for the sport." British Horseracing Authority CEO Nick Rust said that the implementation of such a "whereabouts" scheme was a "natural evolution for the industry." He stressed that work on the project, "which has yet to be costed, is at an early stage, but could start to be phased in within two years" (LONDON TIMES, 9/25).