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  • LeMond Calls Out McQuaid; Badminton Tweaks Rules; Rugby Venue Undecided


    LeMond Calls Out McQuaid

    Three-time Tour de France champ Greg LeMond says he would be willing to challenge Pat McQuaid for the presidency of the International Cycling Union.
    Greg LeMond in 2008. (Getty Images)

    "If necessary, yes," he confirmed Monday in London after a meeting of Change Cycling Now, an anti-doping pressure group formed in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

    "I want to be part of the change process in cycling," LeMond, now USA's only Tour de France winner following UCI's recent ruling to strip Armstrong of all seven of his titles, was quoted by AFP.

    "If this sport is to change, it's now or never," he added. "What's the UCI recommending at the moment? Nothing. (The UCI management) should resign. Any honorable person would have done that years ago."

    LeMond admitted he doesn't consider himself the best man for the job but said somebody must step forward and take charge.

    McQuaid, an IOC member from Ireland, and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen are facing increasing scrutiny following U.S. Anti-Doping Agency allegations that Armstrong was front and center in cycling's “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program” ever, all of which occurred under their watch.

    Rugby Venue Undecided, Says Rio

    Rio 2016 tells Around the Rings it’s still undecided where rugby will make its return to the Olympics, dismissing a report that stakeholders are settled on João Havelange Stadium.
    Mayor Eduardo Paes shields Coordination Commission chair Nawal El Moutawakel and Rio 2016 chief Carlos Nuzman from a sprinkle during a 2010 visit to Havelange Stadium. (ATR)

    Estádio São Januário had been tapped by Games organizers as the potential venue, but football club Vasco da Gama failed to provide the IOC and International Rugby Board with required delivery plans and financial guarantees by their Oct. 31 deadline.

    Despite a Monday report that João Havelange Stadium is a done deal for the IRB, the organizing committee in Brazil insists that’s not the case.

    “Rio 2016 is undertaking a reassessment of the operational plans for the João Havelange Stadium, in conjunction with the IRB and the IOC, but this has not been concluded,” says a spokesman from Rio 2016.

    “Hence, there is no confirmation for the rugby venue yet.”

    Efforts made Monday by ATR to reach the IRB for comment are so far unsuccessful.

    Rio built João Havelange Stadium for the 2007 Pan American Games and will increase its capacity to 60,000 for the athletics competition at Rio 2016. Whether rugby sevens will join in for its first Olympics since Paris 1924 remains to be seen.

    Squash Celebrates IOC Inspection

    President N Ramachandran says he “could not be more happy” following the World Squash Federation’s weekend visit from an IOC inspection team.
    Hong Kong's show court. (WSF)

    Program Commission member Walter Sieber and Hannah Burns of the IOC Sports Department stopped by the semifinals and finals of the Hong Kong Open to evaluate WSF’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.

    "While it is not one of our largest events by capacity, it has been framed to bring squash to the public, and the placing of the all-glass show-court on the Avenue of the Stars at the Harbor certainly did that,” said Ramachandran.”

    "We hope that the inspectors were happy with the staging, presentation and broadcast of our sport, together with our fine Tour athletes, and that their positive impressions can be reinforced when we present to the Commission as a whole in Lausanne later this month."

    Squash is the last of the seven shortlisted sports to welcome the IOC ahead of the Dec. 19 presentations. Baseball/softball, sport climbing, wakeboard, karate, roller sports and wushu are the other six candidates.

    "We were able to make a very thorough inspection of the way the event was organized, taking into account the needs of the athletes and coaches. Naturally, we also wanted to assess how the glass court is helping to present the sport for broadcast purposes,” Seiber said in a statement from WSF.

    "We found that the competition arrangements were of a high level, and on court we were able to see the top players in action too.”

    World No. 1 and reigning champion Nicol David of Malaysia won the women’s draw, while Ramy Ashour of Egypt upset world No. 1 and defending champ James Willstrop of England on the men’s side.

    Rules Tweak for Badminton

    Badminton is tweaking the rules of its Olympics competition to avoid another scandal like the one that struck the sport at London 2012.
    Kim Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun of South Korea were two of the players DQed for tanking in London. (Getty Images)

    Four women’s doubles pairs from Indonesia, China and South Korea tanked matches at the Games to gain more favorable matchups in the knockout stages of the tournament, drawing the ire of the IOC, the Badminton World Federation and fans around the world.

    The teams were quickly disqualified, and some players were also slapped with suspensions from their national federations.
    At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, however, group winners will get fixed positions for the playoffs, and runners-up will enter another draw to determine their match-ups for the knockout rounds.

    "This will eliminate any player's thoughts about actively trying to lose a match or matches," BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said Friday at a press conference in Bangkok, “and ensure such a regrettable spectacle is never witnessed in badminton again.”

    Also at its meetings in the Thai capital, the BWF agreed to pilot an instant-replay system for line calls beginning next year.

    Political Statement Lands Korean Two-Match Ban

    FIFA says unsportsmanlike behavior such as the political statement made by Jongwoo Park “cannot be tolerated” and will ban the South Korean from two World Cup qualifiers as a result.
    Jongwoo Park (bottom) played in a FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier against Iran in October. (Getty Images)

    Park drew the ire of world football’s governing body when he brandished a sign saying “Dokdo Is Our Territory” following Korea’s win over Japan in the bronze medal match at the London 2012 Olympics.

    Dokdo is the Korean name for the Liancourt Rocks, a tiny cluster of islets in the Sea of Japan to which both countries lay claim.

    After the match, Park’s bronze medal was withheld by the IOC, who has been waiting for FIFA to complete its disciplinary case before taking a final decision.

    Both the IOC and FIFA prohibit political statements on the pitch.

    According to an Associated Press report, FIFA “took into account that the behavior of the player, even though it appears not to have been premeditated or intentional, contradicts the principal idea and goal of sportsmanship and fair play” when issuing its ruling on Park.

    He will now be sidelined when Korea plays Qatar at home on March 26 and Lebanon away on June 4. FIFA also slapped him with a $3,780 fine.

    Written by Matthew Grayson.

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