Posts filed under ‘Other’
Drugs in sport is the current hot topic around the world at the moment and that doesn’t look likely to change in the near future. The Athletics Diamond league started last week and British 800m runner Lynsey Sharp was quoted as saying it was ‘a huge problem’ in her sport. She added ‘There’s a lot of people being caught but its nothing compared to the amount of people getting away with it.’
Currently in Athletics there are 24o men and women banned from the sport from 52 countries. The latest facing a ban is Turkey’s Olympic 1500m Champion Asli Cakir Alptekin who was charged a fortnight ago and if found guilty faces a lifetime ban. She was previously banned in 2004 for failing a drugs test. Which has many asking the question, should athletes caught doping be allowed to compete again.
India currently leads the world in terms of the most athletes from one country being banned with 51 athletes on the current list. India is far from being a major nation when it comes to athletics, but their 4 x 400m relay team won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, subsequently three of the winning four runners have failed drugs tests. More concerning is the fact that 11 athletes were caught for doping at the National Schools Championships.
As a developing nation the authorities have stated that they believe that the number is so high as athletes had unknowingly taken banned substances often at the behest of their coaches. The reason these athletes eat what the coaches tell them to eat is the fear of being replaced on the team or in the program should they refuse, and to be thrown out would bring dishonour to their families and community. If that is so then the coaches are the ones who should face lifetime bans.
In second place is Russia with 38 athletes being blacklisted. This figure is believed to be so high as there has been a real clampdown in Russia as they are the host nation of the World Athletics Championships later this year.
The President of Russian Athletics, Valentin Balakhnichyov expects more suspensions to follow before the Championships. ‘Its simple arithmetic: the more you test, the more people are likely to get caught. Together with the Russian anti-doping agency, we do more drugs tests than any other country in the world. Last year we conducted 3,500 tests and this year we plan to do over 4,000 tests in and out of competition.’ He is quoted as saying.
Interestingly it is Kenya who come in third equal on the table of shame with 13 athletes banned, the same as the Ukraine and just one ahead of the USA. The issue here is there is no Kenyan anti doping agency and only one laboratory for testing in the whole of the African continent, and that is in South Africa, which has led John Fahey the President of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) to describe Kenya as ‘a location of choice for dopers.’ The Kenyan authorities disagree and state that 90 per cent of the tests in which their athletes have tested positive, it has been because they have been taking medication which has contained banned drugs.
It was in fact the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) that collected some of these positive tests on the Kenyans after being asked to administer tests at the Olympic trials.
The USA tested 488 athletes last year and they were tested 1,542 times. Where a few eyebrows have been raised is in relation to the athletes who have been caught up in the testing and in some cases found guilty. Sixty four year old Masters runner Roger Wenzel being one to be suspended for taking a prohibited stimulant. Then there is the relatively unknown long distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein who was tested by USADA 21 times in 2012. There have been some high profile athletes snared in their net of testing, and that includes sprinter Shawn Crawford.
Despite athletes regularly being caught many question the uniformity of the testing and whether all nations are following the same guidelines. Will doping ever be stamped out completely that is unlikely, but hopefully progress is being made to limit it. One big positive from an Australian perspective is that there are currently no Australian athletes on the banned list for the sport of Athletics.
It is the way of the world today, that we pay more than a product is worth without complaining. In many of the places we visit the service is nothing short of dreadful, but rather than say anything about it, we simply no longer leave a tip.
It has long been said that money is the root of all evil, but is it just money. As many sports fans will state if someone is prepared to pay a player a certain amount of money for him to play for them, you can’t blame the player.
However what the club or sporting organisation can do is stipulate certain standards and expectations to be met in order for that money to be received.
It is a very sad state of affairs when you have professional clubs signing contracts with players where the player in question only has to do a very limited number of public appearances. Does that mean that once said player has played ‘x’ amount of games he has fulfilled his public appearance quota? There is another team playing in a national competition where all of the players collectively only have to make a predetermined number of media appearances and so many public appearances. This was part of their collective bargaining agreement. This beggars belief, and it is no surprise that the team’s profile is extremely low and many children would not even be able to name more than a handful of players.It would be interesting to know what the players sponsors felt about this agreement.
Being a professional athlete is a job of that there is no doubt, but it is also a privilege, and with it comes responsibilities, and many of those are to do with ensuring the future of the game and the team you play for.
We can take this a step further to sport at the semi professional level. Frequently in one particular sport players will tell you that they are good enough to take the step up to being a full time professional. On ability many of them are. On attitude many are not.
Those who listen t the show regularly will recall when we had Ian Thacker on as guest. Ian is the head of the Ace Cricket academy at the University of Western Australia, and has been running the academy for the past ten years. When asked what was the biggest change he had seen in that time, without pausing he said it was the level of fitness in the young players. The same is true in so many sports, the levels of fitness do not match the talent; few willing to put in extra sessions in their own time away from their club’s two sessions a week.
Just as there is a responsibility being a full time athlete so too are there expectations being a first team player in a semi-professional team. In Europe you would never find a player on a semi professional contract taking a holiday during the season. Once you sign that contract you have committed yourself to that club for the next six to eight months, to be at training on every possible occasion, and when not able to attend work in your own time. You have also made a commitment to be available for selection, barring injury, every week of the season.
If players no longer live up to these expectations, is it any wonder that those who pay to watch them bemoan the standards? Is it the players fault? Won’t a player always push to see what he can get away with? Why have clubs allowed the standards that served them so well for so many years to drop? Are the professional outfits the ones setting the guidelines and as they let their players get away with more so it filters down the chain?
The answers are not simple, but the issues need to be addressed. There is a feeling that the wheel of acceptance from fans is slowly beginning to turn. If that is indeed the case then it surely must benefit all involved in sport. Club performances will improve and players will in fact be more prepared to make that next step up to a higher level. In the end only time will tell if this is the case.
There is one code of football we rarely mention on this site, or on the show, but in light of the comments made by a man who is highly respected in Australian sport we felt we had to on this occasion.
There is no doubt that AFL coach Kevin Sheedy has opened a hornet’s nest with his comments over the weekend after Greater Western Sydney Giants could only attract 5,830 people to its home match against Adelaide Crows, an all time low crowd not seen in AFL since 1996.
For those who missed his poor attempt at an explanation for such a poor crowd he said that his club lacked ‘the recruiting officer called the immigration department recruiting fans for the West Sydney Wanderers’.
His comments apart from being highly offensive to the inhabitants of Western Sydney will have in fact done his future crowd projections even more harm, but they also say so much more.
Three sports went head to head in Western Sydney, Rugby League, Football and AFL. All three codes invested heavily in this market and it became like a race to the North pole, the code that could boast success first it was felt would hold the keys to being the number one sport in Australia in the next 5-10 years. Of the three codes Football and the AFL are believed to have invested the most, although neither code is willing to reveal exactly how much their push for ascendancy has cost.
One thing is for sure AFL never expected Western Sydney Wanderers to take off the way it did, and Sheedy’s comments reflect that. He would have been led to believe that his club and his code would be the number one sport in that region. It won’t be, it will most likely never rise higher than third in the pecking order between these three codes. Football’s success lies purely and simply in the fact that it is a world game, and no matter what country you come from this one or overseas you can relate to it; and are more likely to have played it at some stage in your life. Rugby League is second to none when it comes to involving the community and that is why they build loyalty. They will not splash the money the way AFL and Football have but rest assured with time they will grow a loyal supporter base.
For years AFL’s monitoring of its participation rates have been skewed, a result of not only counting regular registered participants in their participation numbers, as per Football and Rugby League. If all codes were forced to monitor participation figures the same way Sheedy’s angst may be better explained. One thing is for sure his comments show that in Western Sydney the battle of the codes is well and truly being lost, and we would hazard a guess outside of Victoria although not as apparent, at junior levels the same would be true.
You only have to stand outside of Subiaco oval on a match day to see the age of the supporters filing in and how large a percentage are female to know that the youth of Australia are focussed on other sports. The times are definitely changing and that realisation has finally hit Mr Sheedy, which may explain his ill advised comments.
Despite tough economic times some people know no end to their generosity.
When we were searching for sponsors for our Super Rugby coverage of the Emirates Western Force’s Australian conference matches on the station, one individual who wished to remain anonymous bought the air time and donated it to the Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Research Foundation.
The goal is for us to raise as much money as we can for this extremely worthwhile charity. The patron of the Charity former Australian cricketer Justin Langer kindly gave up his time to record the message asking for donations.
Progress has been steady but we are asking as many people as possible to help support this charity drive. It is a great cause and was a wonderful gesture from our very kind sponsor. $10 will help, and if you can’t afford that please share this link with as many people as possible.
New Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver was quoted last week as saying he was surprised to hear Waratahs fans booing their team. He believed this was something that was alien to Australian sport, fans booing the team they support when they under perform.
“They’re demanding not only success, but they demand a style of play which delivers an entertainment package, if you like, that is competitive with what they can get elsewhere.” Pulver was quoted as saying.
He is absolutely correct in his assessment. Times have changed. It used to be great to stand at the bar with a player from your top local sporting team and having too many beers with them and then wobbling off home, with them in an equally wobbly state. With Rugby Union moving into the professional era all of that changed, as it had as salaries rose in other sporting codes. Fans no longer wanted to see the players they paid to watch, their heroes, having a beer. They expect them to be clean living and in peak condition when they run out on the pitch, if they are to deserve the wages they now demand.
Rugby Union in Australia has a far better pricing policy than many of the other sporting codes in Australia, but once again the more you ask your fans to pay to support their team, the louder their voice will be when that team under performs. Which seems entirely fair, but few administrators seem to realise this, as they bury their heads in the accounts and search desperately to not only attract the best players but be competitive and turn a profit. The fans are the lifeblood of every club and when they have bought their ticket they feel they have invested in that club, and if the team does not achieve what it should, understandably want heir voice to be heard.
Pulver seems to understand this. He went on to say “you need a successful team to generate support, or you need to play a very attractive style of whatever game it is.” he said and looked at the success of the A League’s new team Western Sydney Wanderers, ”The Wanderers’ success in terms of fan support has come on the back of an outstanding result on the field.”
It is undoubtedly a tough task running any sporting organisation today, and in Australia with so many codes of football to choose from, it is vital that you offer entertainment at an affordable price and engage your fans. Some clubs in each code do it better than others. The next few years will see those who fail in these areas facing the biggest challenges ever. The good news for Rugby Union is the new CEO seems to understand what is needed to restore the game to the highs it enjoyed a decade ago.
There were many in sport who thought that the pulling down of the Iron Curtain in the Eastern Bloc countries would mean the end of or at least the reduction of drugs being used to enhance performance in sport, but it would appear that is far from the case. Maybe the rewards afforded our successful athletes is simply worth the risk.
The World Athletics Championships are due to be hosted in Russia later this year but it would appear they are not going to be held without questions posed. Already Britain’s head coach Peter Eriksson has raised the question as to why and how as many as 30 Russian athletes are serving bans for drug offences.
Former European long jump champion Tatyana Kotova and 2005 Hammer World Champion Olga Kuzenkova were caught after having their specimens re-tested earlier this year. Also caught was 1992 Olympic shot putt champion Svetlana Krivelyova whose sample dated back to her bronze medal win at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
It would appear that old habits die hard. Some cynics believe that this is the only way some of these nations can keep apace with the sports science developments globally.
One thing that is taking the gaze off of Eriksson’s enquiries has been the ‘will he, won’t he’ questions as to whether South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorious will participate. The organisers have stated that he is welcome, but many believe it would take all of the event away from the track and onto his pending court case in which he is accused of the murder of his girlfriend.
Not surprisingly Sebastian Vettel has stoked the simmering embers of Australian sporting passion, by saying Mark Webber had never supported him and did not deserve to win the Malaysian Grand Prix. Vettel had been instructed by the Red Bull team to not pass Webber but he defied the team and took the line honours. After the race he apologised to a fuming Webber, but it now appears that this may well have been a manufactured apology.
The three-time world champion effectively retracted the apology he issued to Webber and implied that Webber had been guilty of the same crime on a number of occasions.”After all that has happened the past few years, Mark didn’t deserve to win,” Vettel said.
Many experts believe that this was Vettel trying to say that his actions were payback for Webber attacking him in the British Grand Prix two years ago, on that occasion Webber was ordered not to by his team.
In truth this is where F1 as a sporting event can be called into question. We have known for years that the races are many faceted. You have the manufacturers fighting for supremacy, as well as the drivers themselves. Rarely has the question as to which is more important been brought to the fore.
Vettel is a member of the Red Bull team, and judging by the instructions given to him they see the manufacturers title as being paramount, and should one of their drivers take out the championship then that is a bonus. Vettel it would appear sees it very differently. To him the drivers championship is the most important title. Which is not surprising, after all he is a very skilled driver, and the whole aim in the sport is to prove you are the best.
For a number of years drivers have won Grand Prix events around the world because their team mate has eased up and allowed the ‘number one driver’ to win. There have also been occasions where the two work together and prevent a challenger passing so that their team mate can take the chequered flag.
Surely F1 should always be about the driver and the manufacturers championship secondary? If you agree, then maybe you can understand why Vettel passed Webber, because he wants to win, and he wants to be regarded as the best in the world.
Patience is a rare thing in modern day society where information and so much more is available at your finger tips. Is it therefore surprising that many in the UK are beginning to question what really was the legacy of the London Olympics last year? They have read about the wrangles over the use of the Olympic stadium post Games and as a result many feel that they have been conned.
The truth however is often unseen, or should we say unreported, as it does not make such sensational reading. Just over a week ago in an interview with Britain’s Independent newspaper Lord Coe assured everyone that the legacy was never planned to be immediate, but to be seen over a ten year period.
As he promised Lord Coe has started the legacy program in schools and already GBP150million a year has been allocated to primary school sport. Something he is quoted as saying was achieved with the help of David Cameron the UK’s Prime Minister, as they “bumped heads together” of various government departments to achieve such a figure.
As Lord Coe stated this is not about elite programs but about ‘giving kids quality access to sport in primary schools, where it is most needed.’
Lord Coe has made it clear that this is a ten year plan and the results will not be seen for many years to come, but they will undoubtedly soon be evident, just as the effects of stopping competitive sport in state schools in the 1980′s had a massive impact on the British sporting landscape. Successful sporting teams lift a nation, and more people participating in sport gives you a healthier nation and takes a great deal of pressure of the health systems. If Lord Coe’s legacy achieves all of this it will have been a true legacy for all of Britain.
Riding in on a wave of popularity or should that be appeal, to host the 2024 Olympic Games is Hawaii.
Although the Pacific island has not officially announced that it will be lodging a bid, they are said to be contemplating one. Many believe that the island is ideally placed to host such an event, but one has to wonder what the legacy will be in terms of the stadium use once the Olympic Circus leaves town. There is no doubt it would be incredibly popular with competitors and spectators and most likely the IOC.
When Manchester lost out on its bid to host the games to Sydney Sir Bob Scott the head of the bid accused the British of not getting behind the bid and then allegedly said that they would prefer the games to be hosted ‘on some exotic island.’ He may soon find out if that really is the case.