Five sports scan­dals to watch in 2017

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Dop­ing, fi­nan­cial and sex­ual abuse scan­dals have in­creas­ingly shamed sport in the past 12 months. Here are five scan­dals to look out for in 2017:

Barely a week goes by with­out new cases of dop­ing in Rus­sian sport even as the coun­try bat­tles to get back into in­ter­na­tional ath­let­ics in time for the 2017 world cham­pi­onships in Lon­don. The In­ter­na­tional Association of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions has al­ready ex­tended its sus­pen­sion of Rus­sian com­peti­tors un­til at least Fe­bru­ary. World Anti-Dop­ing Agency chief Craig Reedie told AFP in Novem­ber that Rus­sia is “quite a long way off” be­ing com­pli­ant with in­ter­na­tional dop­ing statutes. Rus­sia has passed a new law mak­ing dop­ing a crim­i­nal of­fence, but it has strongly de­nied ac­cu­sa­tions in the McLaren re­port of state-run dop­ing. In­ter­na­tional ex­perts say the coun­try is in de­nial, that they are still not get­ting enough co­op­er­a­tion and that ci­ties closed to for­eign­ers are a dop­ing black hole. Af­ter more than 110 Rus­sians were banned from the Rio Olympics in Au­gust, the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee opened two in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sian sport, in­clud­ing one on dop­ing at the Sochi and Lon­don Olympics. Rus­sian weightlift­ing has also been badly hit and Rus­sia has lost the world bob­sled cham­pi­onships be­cause of the scan­dal.

Foot­ball’s world gov­ern­ing body has had a mass clearout since Swiss in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­tained seven FIFA of­fi­cials at their Zurich ho­tel in May 2015. US pros­e­cu­tors have not given up their cam­paign how­ever and eight key fig­ures in the case will faces tri­als in New York on Novem­ber 6, un­less talks about pos­si­ble guilty pleas suc­ceed. For­mer FIFA vice pres­i­dent Jef­frey Webb, who has pleaded guilty to rack­e­teer­ing con­spir­acy, wire fraud and money laun­der­ing could be sen­tenced in May. Two other for­mer FIFA vice pres­i­dents, Jack Warner and Ni­co­las Leoz, could be ex­tra­dited to the United States in 2017. Forty-one in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies have been charged by US author­i­ties over more than $200 mil­lion in bribes. Sep­a­rately, US and Swiss pros­e­cu­tors are look­ing into the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Rus­sia and Qatar re­spec­tively as well as the ac­tiv­i­ties of for­mer FIFA boss Sepp Blat­ter.

CY­CLING POWER CHEATS

In April 2016, Femke Van den Driess­che, a for­mer Euro­pean youth cy­clocross cham­pion from Bel­gium, be­came the first per­son to be banned for us­ing a hid­den elec­tric mo­tor. She may not be the last. Thomas Voeck­ler, a for­mer holder of the Tour de France leader’s yel­low jersey, said he was“con­vinced” that the mo­tors have been used by pro­fes­sion­als but added that it should be eas­ier to de­tect than dop­ing. In­frared cam­eras were used on this year’s Tour. Amer­i­can for­mer cham­pion Greg LeMond has said that all doubts must be ended and suspicions have been cast in the di­rec­tion of sev­eral teams.

FOOT­BALL ABUSE

Bri­tish po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing hun­dreds of his­tor­i­cal cases of sex­ual abuse of young footballers by coaches and some top clubs have been im­pli­cated. Lon­don po­lice said they have more than 100 al­le­ga­tions of abuse at 30 clubs in­clud­ing four now in the Pre­mier League. Scot­tish po­lice added 109 cases. For­mer Crewe Alexan­dra player Andy Wood­ward opened the flood­gates by telling about abuse he suf­fered at the club’s academy 25 years ago. Since then it has been re­vealed that Chelsea paid a player to stay silent about abuse and that an ac­cused youth coach at Crewe had also worked at Manch­ester City. Southamp­ton have also been drawn into the scan­dal, which English FA chair­man Greg Clarke has called the “big­gest” cri­sis he can re­call in foot­ball.

WEIGHTLIFT­ING’S DOP­ING STRAIN

Weightlift­ing, one of the most pop­u­lar Olympics spec­ta­cles, ac­counted for 48 of the 104 pos­i­tive tests de­tected in new analy­ses on sam­ples from the 2008 Beijing Games and Lon­don 2012. The sham­ing of Kaza­khstan’s Ilya Ilyin, who won a gold medal at each Games, high­lighted the cri­sis fac­ing the sport which WADA diplo­mat­i­cally con­sid­ers “high risk”. Even the In­ter­na­tional Weightlift­ing Fed­er­a­tion said that Rus­sia’s and Bul­garia’s mul­ti­ple dop­ing fail­ures were “shock­ing” be­fore ban­ning them from the Rio Olympics in Au­gust. IWF pres­i­dent Ta­mas Ajan said in Rio that Rus­sia, Kaza­khstan and Be­larus would be banned for a year be­cause of their high num­ber of dop­ing fail­ures. No of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment has been made yet how­ever. China could also be at risk from a mo­tion passed by the IWF this year call­ing for a ban for any coun­try that has three or more fail­ures from the new tests on Lon­don and Beijing sam­ples. —AFP

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