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Slowly Learning the Offside Rule has moved to a new location!
Check out www.sarahchristinerobinson.com for all of my writing.
Mervyn Westfield has been jailed for his involvement in spot fixing in a Pro40 game in September 2009. Danish Kaneria has been named as the main ‘corrupter’ in the Essex dressing room.
It is sad that in the past few months we have had to see some very young cricketers to go jail for their involvement in spot fixing. Nonetheless, there is a strong message in the jail sentences that have been handed out.
What is most worrying, however, is the comments of Westfield’s lawyer. He claims that members of the Essex dressing room frequently ‘turned a blind eye’ to Kaneria’s approaches, and never reported them until 2010 under instructions from the Professional Cricketers’ Association.
The list of names who had been approached or had heard Kaneria talking openly about fixing is astonishing: Mark Pettini (Essex captain), Paul Grayson (Essex coach), James Foster (29 at time of Westfield’s spot fixing), David Masters (31 at the time), Varun Chopra (22) and Tony Palladino (26) who finally reported him.
The list above contains some very experienced players. Pettini and Grayson certainly should have talked to anybody of some importance about Kaneria’s comments. Pettini says he had not taken the claims seriously, but surely any any claims should be worth investigating? Certainly Foster and Masters should have had enough experience between them to know that it is important to warn authorities about any spot or match fixing comments.
There are some possible reasons why Pettini, Grayson, Foster and Masters all seem to have failed in their duty to make authorities aware of Kaneria’s comments.
Maybe in 2009 the ECB were failing to provide adequate information onto cricketers and clubs on dealing with corruption.
Alternatively, Kaneria, with over 1000 First Class wickets was too good for Essex to lose.
I hope it’s not the second option. It somehow implies that experienced and important players in a team are somehow above the rest. It implies they can somehow get away with anything as long as it is kept quiet and the police and cricketing authorities do not know about it. It suggests that even the senior players in a dressing room will pretend that spot fixing is not likely to occur within their team, when the player making the comments is important to their results.
Thankfully, Palladino did do the right thing in reporting Westfield, and it has opened the door to possible, deeper corruption involving Kaneria.
The question is, why did it take so long for anyone to speak up about fixing? If somebody had got there sooner, could something have been done about Kaneria (assuming his guilt) before he ever approached the young Westfield, who was only 21 at the time?
As it is, another young cricketer with great potential is going to prison. Questions though must surely linger over why players in the Essex dressing room failed to act.
Over the last few weekends, I’ve been ridiculously excited for reasons my friends cannot comprehend – live athletics has been on the television.
Okay, so it’s the Aviva Indoor Athletics which aren’t the most important events in the world, even if they are used to get qualifying times for the World Indoors next month. And granted, the Indoors aren’t vitally important, and many great athletes won’t be there. But it’s very good preparation for London 2012 and I enjoy watching athletics. I don’t care who’s competing or where it is, as long as it’s on the TV.
Both the BBC and Channel 4 have been covering these qualifying events. The BBC covered Glasgow’s event and Channel 4 broadcast from Sheffield where Jessica Ennis got her season off to a brilliant start. This Saturday, the BBC is moving to Birmingham.
Those that read my blog will know I have been very critical of Channel 4’s athletics coverage previously. They were, and will be next time around, the broadcasters for the Athletics World Championships. There was one occasion where I was sitting watching the 2011 Worlds, when Channel 4’s coverage ended before the pole vault final had concluded because they felt they had to show Three In A Bed instead.
Channel 4 will be the broadcasters for the Paralympic Games and their promotional programmes have been nothing short of excellent. One fine programme made use of sport science technology to show how these incredible athletes use their bodies and disabilities to excel in their sports. The Paralympic Show has provided insightful interviews. The other day, I watched a ten-minute segment on Eleanor Simmonds.
Channel 4’s actual live coverage, however, is still lagging behind the BBC’s.
First, is the issue of the presenter. Channel 4 opened the Worlds with Ortis Deley, who proved to know very little about athletics and struggled with the live presenting. He was eventually dropped and exchanged for Rick Edwards.
Edwards is better than Deley. He copes with questioning his very knowledgeable guests, including Dean Macey and Kelly Sutherton and is much better at providing segways between interviews and live action. But something still feels amiss. He simply is not as natural as John Inverdale. I haven’t yet put my finger on what’s missing, but something is.
Channel 4’s coverage also struggles because of its adverts. The BBC’s programming excels because of its expert analysis from Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson between events. Channel 4 does not have time to do this because it cuts to adverts between events. Indeed, Channel 4 leaves very little time for interviews with the athletes unless they are particularly famous. They chose to interview Jessica Ennis and Dwain Chambers, but seemed to feel others were unworthy of screen time.
Channel 4’s coverage last Sunday involved the finals from a two-day event. It attempted to highlight the main action from Saturday and from Sunday morning, but actually showed very little of it. At one point, it seemed to cut suddenly from its highlights to live action because the highlights were almost shown over a race. The BBC’s programming tends to last longer than the athletics itself, allowing time for an interesting interviews and conversations between the presenters before the live actions starts, and some time at the end to sum-up.
Some of these problems will be hard for C4 to rectify. It will have adverts during the Paralympics and this may still leave insufficient time for analysis. Analysis is something athletics watchers enjoy. It’s amazing to watch in slow motion the moment in a race where Mo Farah suddenly accelerates, where you see a hurdler knock one hurdle and lose the race on the line, where you can see the 100m again, because its too fast to fully appreciate the first time around.
There is still time for Channel 4 to improve. It will be hosting the Indoor Worlds in Istanbul next month and promises over 20 hours of coverage screen across Channel 4 and More 4. It will definitely have learnt from Daegu last year, where it struggled with poor presenting. Hopefully it won’t cut out any live action to make room for repeats this time.
Ultimately though, Channel 4 has a long way to go if it wants sport coverage to rival the BBC’s. But there is still time.
Posted in athletics | Tagged athletics, athletics coverage, aviva indoor athletics, BBC, channel 4, colin jackson, daegu, denise lewis, dwain chambers, hurdles, indoor world athletics championships, istanbul, jessica ennis, john inverdale, kelly sutherton, london 2012, mo farah, olympics, ortis deley, rick edwards, sport coverage, world championships | Leave a Comment »
I’ve written on Transfer Deadline Day before, and spoken at length about how disgusting it is. To me, it’s a weird day where footballers are paraded like pigs and cows in a ring while men dressed in tweed shout ever increasing numbers at an auctioneer until finally, down goes the gavel and the pig or cow is sent to the highest bidder.
Really, I just loved the above photograph and wanted an excuse to post about it.
This post is slightly delayed, since I was out of the house when the Aviva Indoor Athletics was on in Glasgow on Saturday.
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It was the final hurrah for Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall, which would be making way for the new stadium being built for the Commonwealth Games. It was also one of the first athletics meetings of the season, with Great Britain taking on Russia, Germany, the USA and a Commonwealth elect to win the indoor trophy.
Andy Turner’s hurdles did not get the GB team off with the start they would have hoped for, and he is suffering with an Achilles injury. He hit a number of the hurdles, and limped off the track at the end of the race after finishing last.
Fortunately, that moment was one of very few low points for British team, who secured the overall team award, as well as coming away with a huge number of wins.
Jeannette Kwakye ran an incredible 60m, beating the rest of the field by two fractions of a second, and Mark Lewis-Francis edged out the ever popular Kim Collins to win his own 60m race.
There were some surprises on the day too.
Danny Talbot also left Kim Collins tailing in second to win the 200m and Margaret Adeoye set a personal best to win her own 200m race. Joe Thomas won the 800m, and it is hoped that he can now turn his successful indoor form to better times outside.
Hannah England and Helen Clitheroe finished second in the 1,500m and 3,000m respectively.
The highlight of the meet was Mo Farah’s 1,500m. He fought a close battle with Kenya’s Agustine Choge, overtaking him on the last lap to secure a personal best and stadium record.
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Overall, the British team showed a lot of promise. The surprise victories from some of Britain’s lesser-known athletes proved that the talent in the British team runs deep.
It also appears that the training in Kenya is proving incredibly useful for Farah, England and Clitheroe, all of whom are benefiting from running at high altitude. It is hoped that Paula Radcliffe, who is also training at the ‘Home of Champions’, will be fighting fit ready for London.
It is early days, but success in January gives the athletes a great push going forward into the rest of the season. A number of them will be competing for the Indoor World Championships at Istanbul on the 12-14th March, and will be hoping to turn their success in Glasgow to world success.
Posted in athletics | Tagged 1500m, 200m, 2012 olympics, 3000m, 60m, 800m, agustine choge, america, andy turner, aviva indoor athletics, commonwealth, danny talbot, germany, glasgow, great britain, hannah england, helen clitheroe, home of champions, hurdles, indoor world athletics championships, isantbul, jeannette kwakye, joe thomas, kelvin hall, kim collins, london 2012, marathon, margaret adeoye, mark lewis-francis, mo farah, paula radcliffe, russia, usa | 1 Comment »
A number of years ago, I remember hearing a debate on the radio. The question was whether they should have two separate Olympics: one for ‘clean’ athletes and one for those who openly took drugs.
Even as young as I was (this may have been ten years ago), I thought it was appalling that this was even considered. The drug-filled tournament would not be about breaking records. It would instead be a competition between drug companies on who could make Athlete A run faster, jump higher, throw further. And this assumes that every single drug an ‘athlete’ put into their body wouldn’t be damaging them for the rest of their lives. Drugs always have a price.
I have always had an anti-drug policy in sport, as, I hope, the majority of people have. Nonetheless, you can never completely keep drugs away from competition. It has been present for as long as drugs were available, and I’m sure there have been one or two fortunate enough to never get caught.
Even the IOC (International Olympic Committee) President, Jacques Rogge, believes London 2012 will not be free of drug cheats. Certainly, a clean games is probably something we can only ever dream of. Rogge says “To say there will be no positive cases would be naive and misleading. I hope it’s the case, but reality tells me that there may be positive cases.” This implies that although there will be cheats, they will be caught. Rogge seems to believe there is enough testing. And so there may will be.
In April, the British Olympic Assocation (BOA) will challenge the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). WADA says that the BOA should not indefinitely ban all of its drug cheats from the Olympics after they have already served a ban, since this would be punishing the athlete twice. The BOA says it is a selection policy rather than a second punishment.
I don’t actually care if it is a second punishment. They deserve it. Let me make it clear, I’m not talking about athletes who take drugs innocently from their food or without realising the ingredients of Aspirin had changed. I’m talking about those who knowingly and willingly took drugs to enhance their performance.
They should be indefinitely banned from the Olympics. I don’t care if it’s their livelihood and if they’ve already served a five year ban. The Olympic medal is the highest honour an athlete can hope to achieve. Drug cheats do not deserve an opportunity to win one.
The BOA’s policy is a good one. It means that the athletes that represent Great Britain in the Olympics are clean, have always been clean and therefore deserve all the accolades that come their way. I don’t want to see Dwain Chambers win a medal. I don’t even want to see him run at Commonwealth or European or World level, but unfortunately, the BOA don’t see that as a selection issue in these events.
Drug cheats keep rising youngsters off the track. Every time Dwain Chambers has an opportunity to run for a place in the Europeans, a drug-free British youngster is losing out on that chance.
They broke the rules and should face the consequences.
No drug cheats in the Olympics. It’s just not right.
Therefore, I am standing alongside the BOA and hoping that the Court of Arbitration in Sport will agree with them too.
Posted in athletics | Tagged athletics, boa, british olympic association, court of arbitration in sport, dwain chambers, international olympics committee, ioc, jacques rogge, london, london 2012, london olympics, olympics, wada, world anti-doping agency | 1 Comment »
London is already hosting the Olympics in 2012, and so for some, the bidding for the Athletics World Championships in 2017 is unnecessary. After all, one of the biggest events in world sport is already coming to the UK.
The key word is ‘legacy’. It has been branded about ever since it was revealed London would bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, and the World Championships is a way of ensuring that legacy. If nothing else, it will mean the track will be maintained for at least the next six years. Maintaining the track is incredibly important. Next year, the Olympics 2012 will become part of Great Britain’s history. Keeping that track is an important reminder of the (hopefully) spectacular tournament London will host next year.
Having already watched the Football World Cup disappear off to Qatar, it is difficult to watch London battling them to host another important tournament. Losing out to Russia was hard enough. Indeed, today, I told someone that the winner of the bid was going to be revealed today. They couldn’t care less. Then I told them Britain was going against Qatar. Then he cared.
For the IAAF, it has appeared as though they have been desperate to take athletics to as many parts of the globe as possible. The last tournament was in Daegu in South Korea and the next two will be Moscow and Bejing. The chairman of UK athletics, Ed Warner says, ““If this does not go to London, a number of other cities in western Europe that might have contemplated bidding for the championships will look at it and say ’What do I have to do to win? Is it impossible?’”
It is, of course, important that sport does go to different parts of the world, but it is also important that it goes to places where sport is already well-supported, and where crowds are guaranteed. The UK has a magnificent history of hosting world sporting events, and should not be prevented from hosting an event because it won’t be somewhere new.
Qatar have already put their money where their mouth is, and have offered to pay the IAAF £5 million to spend as they see fit. For Qatar, financial incentives are clearly their way of winning the tournaments they desire. In this respect, they are able to punch well above their weight. For many, the disappointing Football World Cup decision was indicative of Qatar’s desire to pay whatever it takes.
London, though, has a few important things in its favour.
Firstly, its temperatures aren’t 40 degrees, and conditions are very favourable for marathon runners and other athletes.
Secondly, it will attract the crowds. Qatar has a population of only 1.7 million people, compared to the UK’s 62.2 million. In theory, those that missed out on athletics tickets for the Olympics will be inspired to buy tickets for the World Championships instead. London also has a huge tourist-appeal.
Thirdly, the infrastructure is already in place. While Doha discusses where they will be building, the London bid can show what is already in place – a spectacular stadium which will already have a great history of its own by the time 2017 comes around.
London winning the 2017 games is vitally important if the Olympic committee wish to seal their legacy ideal.
A win also has repercussions for future tournaments, and indeed, other sports such as football. If sporting bodies such as the IAAF decide that sending tournaments to new parts of the world is the ideal, then they are going to begin to lose key support in Europe, North America and Australasia. By looking to attract new supporters for their events, they may actually ostracise the countries that can always guarantee their finances, magnificent stadiums, good human rights records and sold-out venues.
Posted in athletics | Tagged 2012 olympics, athletics, athletics world championships, athletics world championships 2017, bid, doha, ed warner, london, london 2012, london 2017, olympics, qatar, qatar 2017, united kingdom | Leave a Comment »