Maria Sharapova is back and her drug ban is receding into memory in a sport where the anti-doping procedure barely scratches the surface of a problem that is unlikely to be non-existent
In tennis, cleanliness is next to wealthiness. Announcing record levels of sponsorship deals back in 2015, the ATP chairman Chris Kermode explained: “People see [tennis] as a clean sport, it’s a great product with great athletes and I think tennis is in the best place it’s ever been.”
Why do people see tennis as a clean sport? The simple answer is that very few players ever test positive for banned substances. Except in faintly glamorous ways, like when Richard Gasquet ingested cocaine from kissing a lady all night in a Miami nightclub. Richard, you’ve tested positive for being a Mr Loverman.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/sep/13/tennis-drug-cheats-anti-doping
As the scandal over international corruption and vote buying for the 2016 Olympic Games escalates the International Olympic Committee’s myopic response has again left more than a little to be desired
As the Olympic flame was lit before beginning its journey to Rio last year, the IOC president Thomas Bach intoned: “The Olympic flame means hope to us all”. Mr Bach will likely be feeling hopeful now, with the news that the Rio home of Brazil’s Olympic committee chief has been raided, along with various other addresses, as part of a major investigation into international corruption and vote buying for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Bach will be hopeful that this is just a cosmic misunderstanding, hopeful that the £155,000 cash the police reportedly relieved Carlos Nuzman of was just one of those classic things everyone keeps in their cupboard, hopeful that the usual horse will ride to the rescue. (Which is to say, hopeful that Fifa – the IOC’s Swiss neighbours, and fellow candidates for an international ASBO – will do something even worse to distract attention.)
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/sep/06/ioc-rio-2016-corruption-vote-buying
The outrageous demands that the International Olympic Committee places on hosts means fewer cities in the democratic world are interested in the Games
There’s a scene in When Harry Met Sally where the two principals run into each other on a plane, some years after their first abrasive encounter. The previously relentlessly cynical Harry tells Sally he’s getting married. She lets out an involuntary peal of laughter. “What’s so funny about that?” he demands. “Well,” titters Sally, “it’s just … it’s just so OPTIMISTIC of you, Harry.”
I confess a similar reaction to the news that Los Angeles have come to a deal with the IOC, to host the 2028 Olympics. For this guarantee – and a cash advance and youth sports investment sweetener – they will stand aside to let Paris run unopposed for the 2024 Games. Congratulations and everything … but it’s just so optimistic of them.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/02/la-signed-rapacious-ioc-running-out-potential-hosts
Even by the standards of modern public life continuing to be Team Sky chief takes some front and there is something mesmeric about his total lack of regret
Does Sir Dave Brailsford intentionally model the tone of his public utterances on Nigel Farage speeches to the European parliament? That is certainly the effect he achieves. The Team Sky principal has had what most would regard as an “awkward” year, yet does not appear to have moderated his public persona one iota. Rather, he seems to have amplified it. Perhaps Sir Dave applies his famous “marginal gains” philosophy even to the business of being bumptious. Perhaps he is simply never satisfied, always finding new ways to be just that little bit more insufferable.
This week finds Sir Dave and Team Sky in France, where they have made an excellent start to the Tour, despite complaints from some teams about their new bubbly aerodynamic skin suits. Responding to disquiet over the use of said bubbles on time-trial outfits, Dave sniffed: “Go and get your house in order, shape up a little bit and then we can talk about it.”
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/05/dave-brailsford-team-sky-bumptious-cycling
Premier League referee’s come-and-get-me plea to the MLS or China displays all the hallmarks of being dictated by his agent, and after lunch at that
Funny to think that Mark Clattenburg inking a sponsorship deal while still a serving referee once felt like a harbinger of the endtimes. O Premier League, what hath you wrought? These days, alas, you get an altogether more worrying class of harbinger. Take the starstruck member of Donald Trump’s gopping Floridian private members club, Mar-a-Lago, who spent the weekend filling his social media with insanely revelatory posts about the presidential entourage. “This is Rick … He carries the ‘football’. The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the president’s Emergency Satchel, the button, the black box, or just the football) is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorise a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centres …”
Ooh, we didn’t know we were born, did we, when Clattenburg refused to follow the precedent set by Pierluigi Collina, and resign his career in officialdom in order to monetise an advertising opportunity. Mark simply unveiled a commercial for a hair‑loss clinic – “the hardest decision to make is to pick up the phone and make that call” – and sauntered right back into making far easier calls on the pitch. He bestrode the worlds of plugging hair plugs and calling players “mate” like a Colossus. As he once explained, “the players identify with me”. (But do they want to? I suspect players want to identify with referees about as much as ladies want to date a man whose best friend is his mum.)
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/feb/15/mark-clattenburg-premier-league-referee-mls-china
Forget the beaches and the shopping, Major League Soccer is growing into something a lot more than a lifestyle option with a football contract attached
Clearly this is far from fashionable, but among my most detested of modern words are “pampering” and the indefensibly atrocious “wellness”. I don’t imagine this will have the wellness brigade crying into their kale daiquiris, but the world can be easily divided into people who would use the term “wellness”, and people with whom I should care to spend a second of time.
I don’t think I’ll ever warm to “lifestyle”, either, which conjures up showhomes with bar-stooled breakfast nooks, artist’s impressions of “retail experiences” that have yet to be built, and generally ignores the filthy magnificence of human existence in favour of a narcotising consumer advert for which you’re the mark. The Ski Yoghurt family – ask your parents, kids – had a definite lifestyle, and an advertising executive who had run the Ski account once explained to me that this was simply because they had to destroy the historically embedded idea that yoghurt was “a product only neurotic secretaries bought”.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2016/mar/02/mls-major-league-soccer-american-dream-steven-gerrard