Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Ashes re-cremated – no sign of any Phoenix

December 28, 2021

I am relatively neutral when it comes to Australia versus England. But last night’s annihilation of England by Australia in the 3rd Test was both wonderful to watch for the debut performance by Scott Boland and a cringing embarrassment for any supporter of English Test cricket.

The Ashes of English cricket from 1882 have been re-cremated. (Is that possible?)

When will the Phoenix rise?

Certainly not until Cricket England gives value to red-ball cricket again.


 

 

The Ashes: England in a panic with team selection for 3rd test

December 25, 2021

Team selections were announced for the 3rd test starting tomorrow.

Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.

England: Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Jimmy Anderson.

That England needed to make changes was inevitable. But there is a hint of panic in the changes made.

That Rory Burns needed to be dropped and replaced by Zak Crawley (for want of anybody else) was unavoidable. That Ollie Pope also needed to be left out was also inevitable but Bairstow rather than Lawrence as his replacement is questionable. Mark Wood comes in instead of Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson is retained. Ollie Robinson is also retained and Jack Leach replaces Chris Woakes(!). Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad have been taking wickets (3 and 2 )and their batting is not negligible.

Woakes also averages 54.28 away from home and 55.61 in Australia while Broad averages 37.88 in Australia.”

The paradoxical thing is that there is now a longer tail but the bowling attack has simultaneously been weakened. And the batting remains just as vulnerable.

The line between winning and losing can be very thin. Of course a hundred by someone (Root or Buttler for example) together with a Ben Stokes blitz is all that is needed for a huge batting success. That may still happen but there is panic showing in the England camp.


The real reason why India was eliminated from the T20 World Cup

November 8, 2021

India will play its last, inconsequential match against Namibia today and then they will all go home.

For the first time in about 9 years India has failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.

There will be much analysis by idiot experts and expert idiots, by journalists and sociologists, by coaches and hangers-on, by talk-show hosts and politicians, by pundits and imams, by celebrities and other ignoramuses, and sometimes by the knowledgeable. We will hear variously that:

    1. the IPL is prioritised over playing for the country,
    2. the BCCI failed,
    3. the BCCI is only interested in money
    4. Ravi Shastri had no interest,
    5. there is too much cricket,
    6. team selection was wrong,
    7. the timing was wrong for the tournament,
    8. it was not an auspicious time,
    9. the batsmen failed,
    10. the bowlers had too much to do
    11. it was bad luck or bad karma
    12. India team players are not hungry enough,
    13. the matches were fixed,
    14. Virat Kohli is well past it,
    15. Rishab Pant is a buffoon,
    16. Harthik Pandya is crude and over-rated,
    17. …………

The real reasons claimed might seem quite simple. (more…)

Selective memories: Both Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson were doped to their eyeballs but only Johnson is demonised

August 9, 2021

So another Olympic Games is over. A year late and with no spectators but pretty well organised (with a few minor hiccups). It confirmed my experience of superb Japanese planning and meticulous implementation as long as the plan is in force. It is when circumstances (accidents, weather) disturb the plan that the Japanese are not at their best. But the disturbances were relatively minor.

I suppose I am getting blase and cynical. The opening and closing ceremonies did not move me as they used to do in my youth. In fact I fell asleep watching the closing ceremony. (In my defense, it was after Sunday lunch).

Most of what I watched had Swedish commentary on the Swedish TV channels or English commentary on a well-known sports channel. The commentators did not distinguish themselves. The proportion of inane comments was very high and the proportion of ignorant comments was unfortunately even higher. Clearly they were sticking to their pre-prepared notes and had not the wherewithal to think on the fly and describe real events which deviated from their scripts.

The sight of men pretending to be women and competing against women in a few instances was not pretty.

I was particularly irritated by some of the hushed and reverent comments about Carl Lewis. Maybe they should have done their homework a little better. Like all history, Olympic history is just a story. What is generally forgotten by the predominant narrative today is that during the 1970s and 1980s the US cheated just as much as the Russians or East Germans did. Or as the Chinese did in the 1990s and later.

Carl Lewis was not quite the hero he was, and still is, made out to be. He was just as much a cheater as Ben Johnson ever was. 

Whether then, or even now where healthy athletes are provided exemptions from their home sports bodies and are allowed to take asthma medicines, cheating is always acceptable as long as it is not discovered.

This is an article from 2003.

 

Lewis joins Hall of Shame

ATHLETICS/US drugs scandal: The shocking revelation that Carl Lewis won two Olympic gold medals in 1988 when he should have been serving a drugs ban means the first three men who crossed the line in that 100 metres race in Seoul have now been implicated in major doping scandals.

The world knows Canada’s Ben Johnson, the first to break the tape, failed a drugs test. What has only now emerged is that, when the gold medal went to the second-place finisher Lewis, the American should not have been there because he had tested positive for banned stimulants at the US Olympic trials two months earlier. It means that the rightful winner should have been Britain’s Linford Christie, a man who himself had a narrow escape in Seoul and has a colourful doping history.

They were not the only runners in that race with drug-tainted histories. Dennis Mitchell, who would also have benefited if Lewis had not been there, by finishing third instead of fourth, had problems with the dope-busters.

But I like sports and watching sports. And I remain in my delusional narrative that Olympic victors are largely clean.


FIFA goes from corruption to idiocy

November 3, 2016

FIFA now goes from the heights of corruption to the depths of idiocy. Why is a Senegalese with little common sense now the Secretary General of FIFA? Of course she is a woman and a Muslim and supremely correct politically. But not very sensible. Clearly – with her UN experience – she is very well trained in “world government” idiocy.

She wants to ban the poppy. If she thinks the poppy is a religious or political statement then she is an idiot.

BBCThe Football Associations of England and Scotland say they will defy a ban on players wearing poppies when the teams meet on Armistice Day. The FAs will let players wear black armbands with poppy emblems and are willing to accept any punishment.

Fifa general secretary Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura told BBC Sport “any kind of sanction” could follow. World football’s governing body prohibits political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called the rule “outrageous”.

What the new FIFA Secretary General has not the intelligence to understand is that she is herself a political statement of the worst kind.

Samoura  - the politically correct face of FIFA

Samoura – the politically correct face of FIFA

FIFA:The FIFA Council today appointed Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura of Senegal as FIFA Secretary General (SG). Ms Samoura is a 21-year veteran of United Nations programmes who is currently the UN’s Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria. The announcement was made by FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico City.

“Fatma is a woman with international experience and vision who has worked on some of the most challenging issues of our time,” President Infantino said. “She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform. Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation.”

As required under FIFA statutes, Ms Samoura will undergo an eligibility check administered by the independent Review Committee, per Article 37 of the FIFA Statutes. Ms Samoura will assume the role of FIFA Secretary General before mid-June.

The FIFA eligibility check does not check for stupidity.


 

When “star” athletes are permitted to dope and get a dispensation to cheat

September 25, 2016

UPDATE: Guardian article (see below).


Following on from my previous post, the BBC had this today. It reduces even further the very little confidence I have in WADA and the way in which the “sporting establishment” have permitted “stars” to cheat.

Of course these doped up athletes could do nothing wrong because they were officially permitted to “do wrong”.

Legal but unfair.

Compliant but unethical.

BBC: 

Sir Bradley Wiggins has insisted he was not trying to gain an “unfair advantage” from being allowed to use a banned steroid before major races. 

The Olympic cyclist told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show he took the powerful anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone for allergies and respiratory problems.

Sir Bradley said he sought therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to “put himself back on a level playing field”.

TUEs allow the use of banned substances if athletes have genuine medical need.

Sir Bradley’s TUEs were approved by British authorities and cycling’s world governing body, the UCI.

What is worse is the manner in which the licence to dope is justified:

Sir Hugh Robertson, vice-chairman of the British Olympic Association, told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek:Whatever you think about whether he should have been allowed to do this, the fact is the anti-doping rules at the time allowed him to do so”.

If Bradley Wiggins had not been a star, and from a “sporting power”, I wonder if he would have got dispensation to cheat.


Epilog: 26th September

The article in today’s Guardian is more of the same but it seems pretty clear that Bradley Wiggins was given official sanction to “cheat” by the UK cycling authorities.

Guardian: …… which invited more questions than it answered in dealing with the trio of therapeutic use exemptions granted to Wiggins in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to allow him to take the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone, for legitimate medical reasons before his biggest races of the season. …….

…….. “This was to cure a medical condition. This wasn’t about trying to find a way to gain an unfair advantage; this was about putting myself back on a level playing field in order to compete at the highest level,” Wiggins said, explaining why he had received an injection for 40mg of triamcinolone just before his triumphant 2012 Tour.

He said he had “really struggled” with respiratory problems in the run-up to the 2012 Tour one of the high points even among so many in that golden summer for British sport. But he did not really explain how that tallied with the account he gave in 2012 in his autobiography.

Then, Wiggins said: “I’d done all the work, I was fine-tuned. I was ready to go. My body was in good shape. I’m in the form of my life. I was only ill once or twice with minor colds, and I barely lost a day’s training from it.” 

Nor did he really manage to explain the contradiction between the “no needles” rhetoric espoused in the same book and the fact he received injections of a powerful drug just before the biggest races of his life; nor the fact that he has never discussed the TUEs in any of his books or since. His contention that he believed questions on needles to refer exclusively to doping is similarly hard to countenance.

It is time for WADA to be open about all athletes who have TUE’s. It’s difficult not to be cynical.


 

Remarkable how so many top athletes take asthma medication

September 23, 2016

When top athletes get out of breath while competing it is called “Exercise Induced Asthma”. Getting out of breath is surely a consequence of the athlete’s physical condition and it seems to me that EIA is an entirely invented medical condition. This allows them to get a “therapeutic use exemption” (TUE) and then use asthma medicine to improve their breathing. The TUE is effectively being used as a doping licence. Why inventing a “medical condition” and then using drugs is not considered cheating is beyond me.

tue-doping-licence

tue-doping-licence

Daily Mail: Six more Team GB athletes have had their medical data leaked by a group of Russian hackers calling themselves the Fancy Bears. In the latest batch of data stolen from the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Fancy Bears list the therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) granted to 41 athletes.

The British athletes were revealed as sprinter Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, sailors Sophie Ainsworth and Saskia Clark, rower Richard Chambers, cyclist Steve Cummings and gymnast Nile Wilson. As with the vast majority of the previous batches, all six of these athletes have been allowed to take medication for their asthma via inhalers.

The drugs in question have since been removed from WADA’s banned list and therefore no longer need any special permission for their use.

Among the international athletes in this batch – the largest so far – are Swiss cycling star Fabian Cancellara, American golfer Patrick Reed and US distance runner Galen Rupp. 

Team GB now accounts for 23 of the 107 athletes named by the Fancy Bears, with top names such as Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins among those targeted. 

Under pressure from out of breath athletes and their trainers, these asthma inhalers are no longer banned.  WADA may as well remove all restrictions on all drugs.

I find WADA hypocritical. The acronym could just be for the “World Approved Drugs Association”.


“Therapeutic Use Exemptions” just a euphemism for legalised drug use by athletes

September 14, 2016

Of course, the Western media attack the messenger rather than the message when Russian hackers reveal that top US athletes (Venus and Serena Williams and teenage gymnast Simone Biles) have also been taking banned drugs. Of course the athletes involved claim that they never broke any rules and all their use of banned drugs were permitted and justified by genuine medical conditions. They all had “Therapeutic Use Exemptions” (TUE’s). Of course the Western media and sports authorities blame the Russians and imply that the revelations are all politically motivated.

Simon Biles took banned substances for ADHD. Is ADHD a “medical condition” or a genetic condition? Why only for ADHD? Why not permit drugs to compensate for any genetic condition? For any perceived “medical condition”, is it “fair” to other athletes that a natural or temporary disability be mitigated for some athletes by the use of drugs. Even if an athlete is genuinely sick, and therefore temporarily at a disadvantage, is it fair for that athlete to compete at all if drugs are used to overcome the disability? What if the drugs overcompensate for the disability? Why not then, permit drug use to compensate for all genetic disadvantages? All Usain Bolt’s rivals should then have been allowed performance enhancing drugs to give them a chance.

Radar: Serena Williams and Simone Biles tested positive for banned substances, but doping agents let them of the hook! That’s the suggestion of bombshell new medical records released by a Russian hacker group.

Hacking group Tsar Team, also known as Fancy Bear, infiltrated the the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) athlete database and released files that show tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and teenage Olympian Biles all “received medical exemptions to use banned drugs,” according to The New York Times.

The hackers penetrated the database and managed to get hold of records that detailed “Therapeutic Use Exemptions” (TUEs). TUEs permit the using of banned substances due to athletes’ “verified medical needs,” the BBC reported.

Permitted doping is often exploited by national teams and their administrators. It has long been suspected that Norwegian skiers – who completely dominate the world of long distance skiing – have a very sophisticated system of using drugs – within the regulations – to give their athletes an advantage.

FasterSkier:As Norwegian skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby has decided to appeal his doping ban to the Swiss Supreme Court, stories have emerged suggesting that the Norwegian Ski Federation recommended that healthy skiers use salbutamol nebulizers – the same drug and method Sundby was issued a two-month ban for – as preventative therapy to maximize performance.

That suggests that a number of Norwegian athletes might have engaged in the same behavior which got Sundby in trouble in the first place. No other doping cases are known to exist from the Norwegian team. However, the International Ski Federation (FIS) rules mean that if an athlete had been caught with high levels of salbutamol like Sundby, it may have been kept quiet. After Sundby’s ban, men’s national team coach Tor Arne Hetland told FasterSkier that “we will not do the same mistake again.”

But what of the past? Norway’s TV2 talked with several cross-country skiers who say they were told by the national team to use nebulizers, even though they did not have asthma. A nebulizer delivers beta-2 agonists, drugs which help relax muscles in the airways. Such medications are banned for use by athletes up until a threshold dose.

TV2 would not reveal the identity of the athletes, but reported that one said they were “mildly surprised” to be offered the drugs even though they were not having difficulty breathing. In the same piece, national team director Vidar Løfshus said that this constituted “preventative care” to make sure that no athletes had airway obstructions.

It makes no sense to me that some privileged athletes are allowed legally to use drugs to compensate for some perceived “disabling conditions”. Either competition must be all drug-free or it must be without any restrictions for performance enhancing drugs. Of course the Olympics have, in reality, been PharmaGames for at least 4 decades. Baseball and American Football and weightlifting and wrestling and swimming are all sports where you have to be an expert in using the rules. In these and other sports, it has been common practice to to use drugs without breaking the regulations for quite a long time.

pharmagames

I am afraid the Western media do protest too much.


India celebrates individuals wildly but the Olympic record is shameful

August 26, 2016

The two Indian medal winners surely deserve all the celebration and adulation they are now receiving. They have overcome corruption and incompetence and indifference that is endemic of the state government and sports organisation in every sport except cricket. To participate in the Olympics is itself a battle won for individual athletes.

But 2 medals (one silver and one bronze) from a population of 1.2 billion is a shameful indictment of the organisation and administration of sports.

The difference between India and China is stark.

India China olympic record

Sports Ministers in every State are pathetic. Sporting associations are riddled with incompetence and nepotism and corruption.

Winning medals wins no votes.


 

and lo, the EU led all the rest ….

August 19, 2016

The EU lives in false glories. Excluding Brexit, of course.

Table by Euro Informationen

EU at the Olympics

It reminds me of the Soviet Union

euccp image nccg-org


 


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