Fiji’s "historic bid" for entry into the 2019 NSW Premiership is "poised for approval in a significant step" toward ultimately fielding a National Rugby League franchise, according to Dean Ritchie of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. On the back of the national team's "stunning World Cup success," Fiji's bid team has "just about secured" the necessary A$1.5M ($1.1M) needed to enter the second-tier Australian competition. Fiji powerbrokers believe the "entire process could be approved by the end of the year." All that is left is for the bid to "receive final approval from the Fijian national rugby league." Sources are "confident" the bid would be successful because the NSW Rugby League is "looking for Fiji to replicate the same on-field magic" the Papua New Guinea Hunters brought to the Queensland Cup. The A$1.5M annual amount "would pay costs for all touring teams, including airfares and accommodation." Fiji bid members have been "canvassing sponsorship opportunities in Fiji, the Pacific and Australia." There is "already work being done to find a place to set up a training facility that includes accommodation, a gymnasium and kitchen" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 11/19).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
National Basketball League Owner Larry Kestelman believes Victoria "could support three NBL sides and plans to have at least one more in the league within two years," according to Roy Ward of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Melbourne United sold out several games at Hisense Arena this season but Kestelman wants the club "to have a rival and one strong enough to compete." This has seen the league have early discussions with some Australian Football League clubs "about their interest in entering NBL sides," a notion that has been discussed before and "now has more hope of success" as football clubs are fielding AFL Women's, Super Netball and Victorian Football League Women's sides. The league has "not ruled out entering a new Melbourne team for next season" but will not "be rushed." Some reports last week said that Collingwood and Fremantle had interest in an NBL side while Richmond investigated entering a southeastern side in '15. In his "deal blueprint," Kestelman would have a southeastern suburbs NBL side and a western Melbourne NBL team "which would reach out to Geelong" (SMH, 11/19).
Former British Cycling Technical Dir and Team Sky coach Shane Sutton said that getting a therapeutic use exemption was a "legitimate means" for an athlete to "find a gain" if he or she felt 5% below his or her best, according to Tom Cary of the London TELEGRAPH. Speaking to the makers of documentary "Britain's Cycling Superheroes: The Price of Success?," Sutton insisted Team Sky never "crossed the line." However, the Australian said that it was "common practice a few years ago" for athletes to use TUEs to "find gains" if they had a "minor niggle or injury which permitted them to apply for one." Sutton added, "If you have an athlete who is 95 percent ready and that little five percent niggle or injury that is troubling him ... if you can get that TUE to get him to 100 percent, yeah of course you would in them days. The business you are in is to give you the edge on your opponent." Asked specifically whether "finding the gains might mean getting the TUE," Sutton laughed and said, "Finding the gains might be getting a TUE? Umm ... yes, because the rules allow you to do that" (TELEGRAPH, 11/18). The BBC's Dan Roan reported Team Sky has been accused of "gaming the system." British former professional cyclist David Millar told the documentary the team's use of TUEs was "incredibly disappointing." Sutton and former Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford "dismiss concerns" over an alleged "culture of fear" -- with Brailsford even suggesting the sport is at risk of going "soft" and "more likely to breed losers than winners." The documentary tells the story of the project which led to British riders delivering 38 medals in three Olympic Games and providing four of the past five winners of the Tour de France. Millar, who was banned for two years in '04 after admitting doping and now works as a pundit and anti-doping campaigner, said, "Do I think they were gaming the system? Yeah, I think that's quite obvious, I think we all know that. ... Team Sky was zero-tolerance, so you'd think that would mean you wouldn't tread into that very grey area of corticosteroid use, because it is performance-enhancing. So when I heard that, it was like, 'Seriously?' A little bit of me died to be honest with you. I thought you guys were different" (BBC, 11/18).
'ESCALATE THE MATTER': In London, Ben Rumsby reported British Cycling and other national governing bodies "could be stripped of public funding if there is any repeat" of the "Bradley Wiggins Jiffy bag scandal" under plans being drawn up by UK Anti-Doping. UKAD was on Thursday "considering changes to the country's National Anti-Doping Policy," with which all NGBs that receive exchequer and National Lottery cash must comply, following its "failure to ascertain the contents of a package sent to Britain's most decorated Olympian during the build-up to the 2011 Tour de France." UKAD CEO Nicole Sapstead said, "If we come across situations where records we think should exist don't exist, or don't exist in a proper format, we will escalate the matter to the funding body when there is one." Those bodies include UK Sport, Sport England and the other Home Country Sports Councils, which distributed millions of pounds of public money to NGBs (TELEGRAPH, 11/16).