Loss puts Pep un­der spotlight

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

fans alike can carry on with con­fi­dence be­liev­ing that progress is be­ing made in tack­ling dop­ing in our sport.”

The Sun­day Times high­lights the case of the women’s 1500m at the 2005 World Cham­pi­onships in Helsinki, when four Rus­sian ath­letes fin­ished in the top five. All four would later serve dop­ing bans but the re­sult still stands in the IAAF record books. Bri­tain’s He­len Clitheroe com­peted in the race, fin­ish­ing 10th, a re­sult which af­fected her fund­ing and forced her to race at other dis­tances.

“I didn’t think there was any cheat­ing go­ing on,” said Clitheroe. “Af­ter that race I just thought, I’m not as good as them.

“It is dis­ap­point­ing be­cause per­haps I was as good as them af­ter all. But that race is some­thing I can never change.”

In 2011, Bri­ton Jenny Mead­ows fin­ished sec­ond in the 800m to Yev­geniya Zin­urova in the Euro­pean In­door Cham­pi­onships, only to be up­graded to gold the fol­low­ing year when the Rus­sian was banned for two years for dop­ing. Mead­ows has said she has been cheated out of at least three medals.

“When I’m train­ing I go down to the track and al­most kill my­self on a daily ba­sis. It’s not pleas­ant,” she told the Sun­day Times. MU­NICH — Bay­ern Mu­nich coach Pep Guardi­ola ( pic­tured) re­mains sto­ically non­com­mit­tal over his fu­ture with the Ger­man cham­pi­ons, de­spite his deal hav­ing just one more sea­son to run.

The Cata­lan con­tin­ued to stonewall po­lite en­quiries about his plans ahead of Ger­man football’s cur­tain-raiser as Bay­ern suf­fered their third con­sec­u­tive Su­per Cup de­feat un­der Guardi­ola, this time go­ing down 5-4 to Wolfs­burg in a dra­matic penalty shootout.

“I haven’t yet de­cided what is best for this club -- and I want to do my best for this club. I haven’t made a de­ci­sion yet,” he in­sisted.

The coach con­tin­ued: “Lis­ten, I will never be­come a prob­lem for Bay­ern Mu­nich. When I have the feel­ing that I’m be­com­ing a bur­den to the club, another coach will come in. Per­haps they aren’t will­ing to wait for me any longer, OK, it’s not a prob­lem. I will never be­come a prob­lem for FC Bay­ern.”

On the eve of the new sea­son, as spec­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to grow, that’s hardly a dec­la­ra­tion of undy­ing love and af­fec­tion from Pep to his pay­mas­ters.

In re­al­ity, chair­man of the board Karl-heinz Rum­menigge is prob­a­bly al­ready com­ing to terms with life af­ter Pep. While still

“It makes you not want to get up in the morn­ing and work so hard,” says Mead­ows

“I’m try­ing to get the most out of my body in a nat­u­ral way. You re­ally have to have a high pain thresh­old.

“Peo­ple who are blood-dop­ing don’t have to go through that the same way. It’s a short­cut. That is re­ally de­mor­al­is­ing. It makes you not want to get up in the morn­ing and work so hard.

“You want to know ev­ery time you stand on that line you are com­pet­ing on a level play­ing field. You don’t want to think that some­one hasn’t gone through those gru­elling ses­sions and are just out to rob you of your re­sult.”

The leaked data­base has been re­viewed by anti-dop­ing ex­perts Robin Parisotto and Michael Ashen­den who say Rus­sia emerges as “the blood test­ing epi­cen­tre of the world” with more than 80 per­cent of the coun­try’s medals won by sus­pi­cious ath­letes.

But Rus­sian sports min­is­ter Vi­taly Mutko de­scribed the find­ings as a “blow” to the IAAF rather than his coun­try.

“Rus­sian ath­letes are checked for dop­ing as much as ath­letes from other coun­tries,” Mutko said.

“And, con­sid­er­ing that we are lead­ers in many kinds of sports, in­sist­ing that ev­ery ef­fort will be made to re­new Guardi­ola’s con­tract, KHR has re­cently changed tack, stat­ing that “the world wouldn’t end,” if the 44-year-old coach didn’t ex­tend his stay in Bavaria be­yond next sum­mer.

How­ever, un­til Guardi­ola lays his cards on the ta­ble, the ru­mours will con­tinue to gather pace. Eng­land has long been mooted as his favoured des­ti­na­tion, with the Manch­ester clubs seem­ingly head­ing the run­ning.

City would ap­pear to be the front-run­ners with cur­rent boss Manuel Pel­le­grini un­der pres­sure fol­low­ing last sea­son’s dis­ap­point­ing cam­paign.

The de­posed cham­pi­ons of Eng­land are said to be des­per­ate to land Guardi­ola, and a bumper pay­day is in the off­ing. But don’t rule out fallen giants Manch­ester United when the time comes to re­place for­mer Bay­ern coach Louis van Gaal. Where does this leave Bay­ern Mu­nich as Pep re­fuses to com­mit him­self to the club? While Bay­ern will re­main un­stop­pable in the Bun­desliga and al­most cer­tainly claim an un­prece­dented fourth ti­tle in a row, the Holy Grail re­mains the Cham­pi­ons League. Suc­cess in Europe is piv­otal for both Bay­ern and Guardi­ola.

Cer­tainly, some added bite was needed in the en­gine room af­ter two con­sec­u­tive semi­fi­nal defeats at the hands of Span­ish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. The sign­ing of Ar­turo Vi­dal to bol­ster mid­field was a sig­nal to the rest of Europe that Bay­ern want to take the next step in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Let’s con­sider the ef­fect of the an­nounce­ment in 2013 that Jupp Heynckes would step aside for Guardi­ola. That rev­e­la­tion gave the play­ers clar­ity, re­moved any un­cer­tainty and po­ten­tial al­i­bis for poor per­for­mances, giv­ing a rein­vig­o­rated squad added im­pe­tus and fo­cus. It was dras­ti­cally needed in 2012 af­ter Bay­ern fin­ished sec­ond to Borus­sia Dort­mund and lost the Cham­pi­ons League to Chelsea on home soil.

Bay­ern ended up with a his­toric tre­ble in 2013, cruis­ing im­pe­ri­ously to the Bun­desliga ti­tle by 25 points and win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League at Wem­b­ley against ri­vals Dort­mund.

All in all, it rep­re­sented the per­fect de­part­ing gift for the much-re­spected Heynckes -- and plenty to live up to for Pep.

Re­gard­less of whether he is stay­ing or go­ing, such a state­ment from Guardi­ola can give Bay­ern a sim­i­lar shot in the arm. Clar­ity as to Pep’s fu­ture can free him and his side up as they aim to make it third time lucky in the big one -- the Cham­pi­ons League.

The Cata­lan needs to put an end to the spec­u­la­tion and pro­vide some clar­ity in com­ing weeks, or it could prove a dam­ag­ing ele­phant in the room. KUALA LUMPUR — Un­der­pres­sure Fifa leader Sepp Blat­ter ( pic­tured) on Mon­day gave up his In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee seat be­cause he will soon end his reign in charge of world football.

Blat­ter, whose or­gan­i­sa­tion is em­broiled in a cor­rup­tion scan­dal, was among a group of eight IOC mem­bers who should have sought re-elec­tion on Mon­day at a meet­ing in Kuala Lumpur. He has said he will stand down as Fifa pres­i­dent on Fe­bru­ary 26 when an elec­tion for a new leader will be held.

IOC pres­i­dent Thomas Bach said that Blat­ter “does not deem it to be ap­pro­pri­ate to stand for re­elec­tion for eight years know­ing that af­ter seven months his term would come to an end”.

Bach thanked Blat­ter and other mem­bers leav­ing the IOC for their “great con­tri­bu­tion” to the Olympic move­ment. Blat­ter, who has been an IOC mem­ber since 1999, did not at­tend the Kuala Lumpur meet­ing.

The Fifa pres­i­dent was part of an IOC com­mis­sion that de­cided on re­forms of the Olympic or­gan­i­sa­tion af­ter it was hit by a bribery scan­dal over the Salt Lake City Win­ter Games in 2002. — AFP

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