December 30, 2011 by staff
Scandals 2011, There couldn’t have been a bigger shame than the spot-fixing scandal in cricket. And, there couldn’t have been a more sincere exercise to assert one’s self-righteousness in doping than the battle between the World Anti-Doping Agency and the British Olympic Association.
That both surfaced in England is only incidental. The first involved Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt – who was skipper of team touring England in the tour last year – and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer although initially, the scandal seemed like consuming virtually the entire team.
Players’ agent Mazhar Majeed played into the hands of undercover reporters from News of The World tabloid, where he famously said that he could get two Pakistani bowlers to deliver no-balls at stipulated points during the fourth England-Pakistan Test.
The verdict that came this year was even more stunning: Majeed was imprisoned for two years and eight months, Butt for 30 months, Asif for 12 months and Aamer for six months. That justice came as a jackhammer blow to Pakistan was dwelt upon as extensively as the truth that cricket will never be able to live down its image of a game constantly under the gaze of match-fixers.
The other controversy was in fact Britain’s attempt to tell the world that drug cheats do not have any place in its firmament. It all began with a verdict from Court of Arbitration for Sport that overturned International Olympic Committee’s Rule 45 which said that drug cheats who have been banned for six months or more could not participate in the following Olympics.
The CAS ruling saw many athletes, including 400m Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who had appealed against the IOC diktat, get a chance to figure at the London Olympics. They included sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar but the two Britons had a knotty 19-year-old BOA bylaw to vault over as according to it, all drug cheats were banned for life from the Olympics.
WADA ruled that BOA was non-compliant with its code, thanks to the contentious bylaw, forcing BOA to appeal to CAS. A decision in April next year will determine whether Chambers and Millar can participate in London 2012.
Talking of drugs, six women athletes who formed the cream of India’s gold-medal winning squad at the Commonwealth Games last year, were sensationally caught for steroid abuse earlier this year. They were handed one year bans under the exceptional circumstances rule of WADA.
All of them – AC Ashwini, Sini Jose, Mandeep Kaur, Juana Murmu, Priyanka Panwar and Tiana Mary Thomas – stand very little chance of making it to London 2012, thanks to the timing of the ban.
The athletes maintain that contaminated supplements supplied by their coach did them in. Appeals and more drama are bound to follow in the coming weeks. India, incidentally, was home to more controversies.
The draft sports bill came in two avatars, the second one even trying to appease the cricket board on the RTI front. It may hit a roadblock during the January cabinet meeting but sports minister Ajay Maken is confident his effort will pass muster this time.
Even as hockey’s battles off the pitch continued , with India even losing the hosting rights of the Champions Trophy, in the US, the NBA season was cut to 66 games per team from the normal 82 after a lockout nipped action for nearly two months. A new agreement was signed after hectic parleys between the owners of 30 NBA teams and players and the season began on December 25.
Player defiance reached a new high in Champions League when Argentina’s Carlos Tevez refused to come off the bench for Manchester City in the match against Bayern Munich. First came the suspension, then a hefty fine which was subsequently reduced. Tevez, meanwhile, finds himself in a limbo.
This more or less explains Jamaican world record holder Usain Bolt’s mood during the 100m final at the Daegu World Championships. The false start did him in, giving Yohan Blake the glory. But then, in a year when sport had its own share of dramatic false starts, small wonder the planet’s greatest athlete had to personify it in his own way.
The Indian Olympic Association faced little trouble in uniting national sports federations against the draft sports bill that is meant to introduce some transparency and accountability in the way sports is administered in India. Led by the cricket board (BCCI), which was always against the RTI provisions in the Bill, the heads of sports bodies including senior ministers in the Union Cabinet ensured that the draft bill never reached the parliament. The age and tenure guidelines would have meant end of the road for most of the septuagenarian office-bearers who wield a lot of clout. General body meetings to elect the office bearers in most of these national and federations always threw up unanimous verdicts with most of them getting re-elected for the Nth term, unopposed
Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation have continued to resist each other despite pressure from various quarters. Things went from bad to worse with the FIH threatening to take stern action, as the talk between the two warring bodies almost always failed when it came to forming a united body. They even shifted the Champions Trophy from India.
CAS vs IOC
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in October that the International Olympic Committee’s controversial Rule 45 banning convicted drug cheats from future Olympics is illegal. The order by the three-member panel followed an appeal by Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt of the USA against the rule which bans any athlete banned for more than six months from the next Olympics. “The IOC Executive Board’s June 27, 2008 decision prohibiting athletes who have been suspended for more than six months for an anti-doping rule violation from participating in the next Olympic Games following the expiration of their suspension is invalid and unenforceable,” the CAS said. The judgment also gave hope to top athletes including British sprinter Dwain Chambers. But Chambers, who has been banned for life from the Olympics, thanks to a British Olympic Association bylaw, will have to wait until April when CAS will hear the appeal by BOA.
Simon Katich was pulled up by Cricket Australia after opening his mind to reporters on how he lost his contract recalling a physical bust-up with Michael Clarke two years ago. Clarke angered Katich by asking the team to sing their traditional victory song early so he could leave to meet his girlfriend. The opener from New South Wales opener escaped fine or ban but was reprimanded by CA’s disciplinary panel.
THREE KEY NUMBERS OF THE YEAR…
$300 MILLION: The amount of money basketball players lost following the 149-day lockout in the NBA.
88.9%: The percentage of Chinese residents who meet the fitness standards as per the 2010 National Physical Fitness Evaluation report published by the government in September.
10 CRORE: The total prize money pool of the controversial World Series Hockey, reportedly 30 times more that the prize money offered in the Euro Hockey League.
The world of cricket was rocked when three Pakistan Test players – skipper Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer – were caught for spot-fixing by the undercover reporters of News of the World tabloid during the England series in 2010. Last month, the trio became the first cricketers to be imprisoned for corruption. After a three-week-long trial, players’ agent Mazhar Majeed got the maximum punishment of two years and eight months in prison followed by Butt (30 months), Asif (12 months) and Aamer (6) from the Southwark Crown court in London. Delivering the verdict Justice Cooke said cricket matches would forever be tainted by the scandal. “The image and integrity of what was once a game but is now a business is damaged in the eyes of all, including the many youngsters who regarded you as heroes and would have given their eye and teeth to play at the levels and with the skills that you had,” he said.
India’s star women’s 4x400m relay squad which won the gold medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games were disgraced when six of the athletes in the squad – another one mysteriously evaded tests – were suspended for testing positive for anabolic steroids. In a surprise verdict, the NADA’s disciplinary panel gave the athletes a lighter punishment of one year, accepting their plea that they ingested the banned substance through the contaminated food supplements provided by their Ukranian coach Yurii Ogorodonik. The flurry of positive tests began after the athletics world governing body caught Mandeep Kaur and Juana Murmu in out of competition tests in June. That got the National Anti-Doping Agency sample collectors on the front foot resulting in total disgrace for Indian athletics as those who failed the tests included Ashwini AC, the gold medal winner in women’s 400m hurdles at the Guangzhou Asian Games.
Argentine footballer Carlos Tevez caused a sensation during a Champions League match when he refused to come as substitute for Manchester City in their match against Bayern Munich. After a brief enquiry, City suspended him even as boss Roberto Mancini said the striker’s career is over at the club. The club slapped a hefty fine on Tevez, which was later reduced. The final chapter in the drama is yet to be over with the player now threatening to sue the manager. Last heard the transfer talks with AC Milan are also in a limbo with Mancini ruling out a loan deal.
Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez tarnished the image of the beautiful game when he mouthed racist insults at Manchester United defender Patrick Evra. After an investigation that lasted almost a month, the Football Association (FA) charged Suarez. Meanwhile, the club stood by the player and attacked FA suggesting that it didn’t listen to the Uruguayan’s version. Liverpool also made a call for action against Evra for his abuse against Suarez. But there was more trouble in store for Suarez and the FA is again set to haul him after he was accused of making an obscene gesture at Fulham supporters while he left the turf following his side’s 0-1 defeat on December 5.
The flamboyant Mumbai cricketer never managed to climb even half the dizzy heights that his schoolmate Sachin Tendulkar managed on the world stage but has often managed to capture eyeballs one way or the other. Last month, Kambli was back in the news raising match-fixing doubts over India’s semifinal defeat to Sri Lanka in the 2006 World Cup, a match which never ended at the Eden Gardens following crowd trouble. The southpaw has now pointed fingers at then India skipper Mohammed Azharuddin for his decision to bat but Azharuddin, now an MP, has rubbished these charges.
The Austrian, nicknamed Crazy Dani, as he is mostly in the news for wrong reasons, became the first tennis player to get a life ban for match fixing in May. The 27-year-old was also fined $100,000 by the anti-corruption unit after he was found to have fixed his own matches and also trying to lure others to do the same between October 2009 and July 2010. In October, he was joined in the list of shame by Serbia’s David Savic, ranked 659th, who became only the second tennis player to be banned for life after being charged with corruption.
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