Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

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.


 

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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


 

Something rotten in the state of the Olympics

August 7, 2016

That trainers in Russia systematically doped athletes they were training is probably true.

That the Russian sports Ministry turned a blind eye to this and even helped athletes escape detection is also highly likely.

That many Russian athletes are guilty of doping is almost certainly true.

That all Russian athletes have doped is almost certainly not true.

image americablog.com

Yet the International Olympic Committee (which is considerably more corrupt than FIFA) and the International Paralympic Committee (not very much cleaner) have decided to inflict a collective punishment on all athletes from Russia. It is quite clearly a “Collective Punishment” .

In times of conflict, Collective Punishment is a war crime and outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

Collective punishment is a form of retaliation whereby a suspected perpetrator’s family members, friends, acquaintances, sect, neighbors or entire ethnic group is targeted. The punished group may often have no direct association with the other individuals or groups, or direct control over their actions. In times of war and armed conflict, collective punishment has resulted in atrocities, and is a violation of the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions. –Wikipedia

The IOC is itself rotten and no matter how widespread doping was in Russia, there is no way in which infliction of a Collective Punishment – which by definition applies to innocents as well as the guilty – can be justified. It creates new innocent victims of IOC oppression.

As if the IOC was not rotten enough and oppressive enough.


 

“Bigger, faster, stronger” tarnished by Zika, doping, corruption

August 4, 2016

The Olympic games (summer and winter) have been a high point in my sporting interests for some 50 years. But this year my usual enthusiasm is heavily subdued and my viewing will be accompanied by a very high level of cynicism. The dominating themes are Zika, doping and corruption and could completely overshadow any feats of speed or strength or skill.

Tomorrow is the official opening of the Rio Olympics. The torch arrived yesterday accompanied by demonstrations against the high cost of the games and against the rampant political corruption in Brazil. The military broke up the peaceful demonstrations with an exercise of – apparently – excessive violence. No doubt they are all on edge. Some preliminary women’s football matches were played in empty stadiums (and why on earth is football an Olympic sport?).

Some other peripheral sports, which should not be part of the Olympics (golf, tennis), have seen many of their stars pull out citing a variety of injuries and other engagements. But they are all dead scared of the Zika virus and can’t jeopardise their normal earnings. In any case there is little glory or credit in an Olympic medal for golf or tennis.

The closed shop that is the IOC, to my perception, is more corrupt than FIFA ever was. Every venue for the last 50 years has been “bought”. Corruption is endemic in the administration and in many of the sports. The boxing and wrestling and weightlifting tournaments are so “fixed” that the results are meaningless. The gymnastics championships are beset first by subjective judging and – always it seems – by politically influenced judging. Today the IOC announced that another batch of strange sports would be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Softball and skateboarding among others. Skateboarding? No doubt many thousands, if not millions, has changed hands.

It is swimming and track and field which – for me – are the essence of the Olympics. I would be quite happy to see diving and water-polo be dropped. Rowing and canoeing and sailing are probably valid disciplines but the equestrian sports are not. Trampoline gymnastics and synchronised swimming and beach volleyball are other ridiculous disciplines which have no place in the Olympics.

The sports at the Rio Olympics are:

Rio Olympic sports

Rio Olympic sports

I hope there are no catastrophes and I wish the Brazilians well. Brazil now really needs a successful games to feel good about.

No doubt I will spend many hours watching on Television. But I will not be as engaged and enthusiastic as I usually am.


 

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. – RIP

June 4, 2016

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., aka Muhammad Ali passed away last night at the age of 74.

I first saw him win the Light Heavyweight Gold medal – on film – at the Rome Olympics in 1960. We had no TV then. He has floated like a butterfly in my view of the world for over 50 years.

RIP.

“Marcellus vanquished Carthage,

Cassius laid Julius Caesar low.

And Clay will flatten Douglas Jones

with a mighty measured blow!”

1960 Olympic gold medallist

1960 Olympic gold medallist


 

Tennis players throw their matches when “they can’t play their best”

January 25, 2016

As new details emerge about strange betting patterns around a mixed doubles match in the ongoing  Australian Open, an Australian professional tennis player, Nick Lindahl (of Swedish birth) pleads guilty to corrupt betting and admits in court that he threw a match for gains to be made by betting for his opponent to win.

But some of what he revealed perhaps throws light on when top players throw matches – either directly for payment or for indirect gains from bets placed against their opponents.

First the report on the current match in the Australian Open. The statements attributed to David Marrero are more than a little weird and he has apparently been involved before with “suspicious matches”.

Yahoo SportsHow bold would a player have to be to fix a match in the middle of a match-fixing scandal? That’s the question buzzing around the Australian Open on Monday, where a suspicious mixed doubles match has reignited the match-fixing controversy that has surrounded the tournament since a joint Buzzfeed/BBC report was released last Sunday

The suspicion started when betting site Pinnacle Sports suspended betting on the match featuring Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero against Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. Large amounts of money were being placed on Kubot and Klavackova in what would normally be an obscure match, the head of the site told the New York Times

“We saw a small number of people placing a large amount of money,” he said. “In context, these matches are rather small. That means that any aggressive betting behavior is very easy to detect on our side.”

This is the first Australian Open match that Pinnacle Sports has flagged this year. Hlavackoba and Kubot won in rapid fashion, closing out the match at 6-0, 6-3. 

Arruabarrena and Marrero are each ranked No. 33 and No. 32 among doubles players on the women’s and men’s tours, respectively. Marrero was part of the team that won the 2013 ATP World Tour championship. They denied any match-fixing, saying that the reason for their unexpected loss was that Marrero has a knee injury. Then Marrero, who has played nearly 30 mixed doubles matches, gave a more bizarre answer.

“Normally, when I play, I play full power, in doubles or singles,” he said. “But when I see the lady in front of me, I feel my hand wants to play, but my head says, ‘Be careful.’ This is not a good combination.”

Arruabarrena questioned if a spectator had noticed the injury during their Saturday practice session and subsequently tipped someone off. The Times noted that this is not the first time a Marrero doubles match has raised suspicions

In the meantime, the SMH reports on Nick Lindahl’s shenanigans:

A former Australian professional tennis player has pleaded guilty in a Sydney court to a corrupt betting charge in a scheme to fix a match in Queensland. But Nick Lukas Lindahl will fight the allegation he tried to hide evidence related to match fixing.   

Lindahl, 27, was arrested by the NSW Organised Crime Squad at Liberty Grove, in Sydney’s inner west, in February last year.

His court appearance comes just days after allegations of widespread match fixing rocked the international tennis world on the eve of the Australian Open. …….

During this conversation, Lindahl was heard encouraging Mr Fox to get rid of computer data and a mobile phone app, police allege.

“Just get rid of everything … hide it,” he said.

He also spoke about how he had previously told police he had thrown matches “because that’s what tennis players do when they can’t play their best”.

Mr Fox and Mr Wolfenden have already had their matters heard before court.

Lindahl has pleaded guilty to using corrupt conduct /information to bet on an event but pleaded not guilty to concealing conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of events.

It makes a kind of sense. Players expected to win but who are either feeling out of sorts or don’t expect to progress sufficiently far to win any real prize money, have much money to win by losing unexpectedly. That of course will be one of the key criteria for a “suspicious” match. And from now on, I shall be automatically suspicious of any unexpected loss early on in a tournament.


Related: Why did Tennis Australia board members quit on eve of Australian Open?


 


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