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Volume 6 No. 192

Leagues and Governing Bodies

British Gymnastics is "facing a crisis with its biggest stars," including double Olympic champion Max Whitlock, "refusing to sign World Class Performance Programme contracts and being threatened with having their funding withdrawn," according to Martha Kelner of the London GUARDIAN. An "internal power struggle" between the performance, commercial and management teams about the content of the contract has led to a "rebellion among the athletes." It is understood "almost all of the team" which won a record seven medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics "have refused to sign the contract." The entire men's artistic squad, including Whitlock, who became the first Briton to defend a world title successfully last month, has refused to sign. On the women's side, Olympic medalist Amy Tinkler and European champion Ellie Downie have not signed. British Gymnastics said in a statement that it was currently "involved in consultation" with the athletes regarding the agreements. It added, "To date, over 50% of the athletes on our World Class Performance Programme have already signed the agreement." One insider described the situation as "complete chaos, evidence of weak leadership and British Gymnastics' need for complete control over the athletes" (GUARDIAN, 11/12).

Australia's National Basketball League confirmed that some Australian Football League clubs are "keen on creating their own basketball team" to be part of the league's expansion, with two Melbourne-based AFL clubs reportedly the "front-runners," according to Ben Waterworth of FOX SPORTS. NBL Owner Larry Kestelman "wants to expand the league by up to four teams in the coming years." The league is "keen for some AFL clubs to add basketball departments so they can also run NBL teams in the coming years." Fox Footy and Fox Sports NBL commentator Dwayne Russell reported on Monday that two Melbourne-based AFL clubs were the "front-runners to enter teams into the soon-to-be-expanded NBL." Russell said that Collingwood, which already has a netball team and AFL Women's side, had "shown interest in owning a basketball team." Fremantle "also looms as a viable option" to be a second Western Australia-based NBL team "off the back of the Perth Wildcats' success," which has seen the club attract more than 15,000 fans to most home games so far this season. Russell said that he had spoken with Kestleman, who is "keen to follow a model from Europe" where football and basketball teams have one owner. Russell: "They're the one franchise (in Europe) and it works because it brings a massive membership base to a new team" (FOX SPORTS, 11/13).

The Brazilian Grand Prix is "set to fall under further scrutiny on the issue of security" after a fifth robbery attempt was made against Formula 1 personnel over the weekend in São Paulo, according to Samuel Lovett of the London INDEPENDENT. Less than 48 hours after members of the Mercedes team were robbed of their possessions at gunpoint, a car driven by Pirelli tire fitters "was targeted by thieves late on Sunday." Attempts were made by the assailants to stop the vehicle in question but the tire company's staff was "able to escape unharmed." Team members from Mercedes, Williams and Sauber were "all subject to attacks throughout the course of the event," while officials from FIA were also approached by armed robbers (INDEPENDENT, 11/13).

NO TESTS: In London, Dan Ripley reported McLaren and Pirelli "axed" a planned tire test at Interlagos following attempted robberies. McLaren was due to test for Pirelli's '18 tires on Tuesday and Wednesday at the São Paulo circuit, where British teenager Lando Norris and Stoffel Vandoorne "were due to run for the team," but security breaches around the venue have led to the running being canceled. A McLaren statement said, "We have jointly decided with Pirelli to cancel this week’s tyre test at Interlagos. The safety of our people has always been our top priority, and, given recent events, we felt that it was an unnecessary risk to proceed." Pirelli added, "Following a robbery attempt, neutralised by Pirelli security, on a Pirelli van at the Interlagos circuit last Sunday -- after a weekend where similar episodes occurred with other teams -- it has been decided to cancel the tyre test planned on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 on the Brazilian circuit with Team McLaren." Despite promised "revamped security," including police convoys for race teams, there were "multiple security issues throughout the weekend" (DAILY MAIL, 11/13).

'NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY': In London, Bec Clancy reported an F1 spokesperson said that it was "not their responsibility to deal with security, which is a matter for the track." The spokesperson added, "We are just the commercial rights holder. We sell those rights to the local promoter and it is their responsibility to organize security inside the track. I don't think it's up to us to take responsibility, but what we are emphasizing is that we are working closely with the promoter and urging them to move in certain directions. It really is something the promoter should be looking at, and looking at more closely" (LONDON TIMES, 11/13).

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton said that the move to limit drivers to just three engines next season "sucks." Drivers are limited to four engines this season "before incurring grid penalties, and the rules are cutting that back" in '18 to reduce costs. Hamilton said that reducing the number of engines would mean drivers were "able to push hard in races less often" (BBC, 11/13).

Starting next season, managers in Japan will be able to request video reviews of calls on the field of play "following a decision on Monday by Nippon Professional Baseball." Until now, video reviews "were restricted to three plays" -- balls caught against an outfield wall or fence, plays at the plate and potential home runs. Under the request system, potential home runs and safe and out calls on the bases "may be challenged" (KYODO, 11/13).

Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh said that bookmakers should not be allowed to "refuse bets on Irish horse races." Kavanagh wants bookmakers to be "compelled to lay a minimum-liability bet and has called for a radical overhaul of industry regulation." Kavanagh: "I think there is a need for an independent Gambling Commission to regulate all forms of gambling and gaming in Ireland" (LONDON TIMES, 11/13).

National Rugby League side South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson called on Rugby League Int'l Federation execs Nigel Wood and David Collier to "address a meeting of NRL clubs before the end of the World Cup and explain their plans for the sport." Richardson was responding to reports about the "emergence of a FIFA-style window on the third weekend of June next year," when NRL and Super League players could "theoretically disperse and represent their countries as footballers have for many years" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/13).