British athletics legend Paula Radcliffe has declared that the war on doping “is not won” and called for sterner action to be imposed immediately on countries where alleged systemic doping of athletes is still occurring.
“I don’t think it’s any secret of the levels of doping that have been uncovered in the likes of Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, Morocco, East Africa,” said Radcliffe, who is in the UAE for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday.
“The levels of violations are starting to come through, but it wasn’t shown to be systemic as it was, and as state controlled as it was in Russia – that’s why the actions that have been taken against Russia have been like that.
“But I think if it’s above a certain number then that country has to take responsibility, take ownership of it and do something to try and help the fight and move forward and show that its not something that is tolerated in their country and it won’t be accepted and tolerated within our sport.”
The 2005 marathon world champion and gold medalist at the 2002 Commonwealth games in Manchester says that the actions of these countries and athletes have “tainted” the sport.
“It’s something that I feel has tainted a sport that I love very much” said the 44-year-old, “and I think by association the credibility of the athletes who work very hard day in day out is tainted by that minority.
“And unfortunately it’s a minority that’s too big but it is a minority and it’s something we need to do more (to stamp out). I’d like to do more to give back to protect those clean athletes to protect the sport.”
Radcliffe, who now resides in Monaco, said she felt sympathy for clean Russian athletes, who have also been banned from the upcoming Winter Games in South Korea.
“Any athlete would have sympathy for athletes in that position,” she said. “It’s very unfair that any clean athlete would be put in a situation where they’re not able to take part (in the games). Unfortunately because of the severity of the infractions that were taken part in by the Russians (that has been the result).
“But we have to underline that there are other countries that are probably getting close to that (level of doping), there are other people that elsewhere in the world that are cheating like that – they need to be punished in the same way and they need to be got after. In the same way.
“We have to underline that it won’t be accepted in our sport and we have to make the deterrents greater and that means for Russia at the moment, that there was so much evidence of the state backed system and the systemic doping system that was going on, the manipulation and the undermining of the rules of our sport, the dis-respect for the other athletes and our sport – this was the step that had to be taken.”
While the Russian doping scandal is now, finally, accepted as fact, the IOC and other bodies, including FIFA, are half-hearted at best in action. Sport is broken, as is anti-doping. And you should have zero confidence it will change.— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) January 23, 2018
Radcliffe called for greater financial sanctions on countries found to be cheating.
“As I say there are other countries that need to have the same sanctions imposed and I’d like to see more of a financial sanction imposed on all cheats, so they pay back more to our sport and that goes into the anti-doping budget.
“And when federations surpass a certain number of doping (violations), or when it’s shown to be systemic as it was in Russia, then fines are paid before they are able to come back and compete.
“The battle against doping is definitely not won – it’s moving forward but I think it needs a lot greater investment.
“It needs a lot better education and the deterrents need to be bigger so that when, unfortunately, there is always going to be that incentive to dope, we have to make it harder and harder for them to get away with it and work harder to protect the majority of the athletes who are the clean athletes because they have a right to be protected and to be able to compete on a fair and level playing field.
“Not to suffer because of the action of other people around them.”
It’s been nearly two decades, but JK Rowling continues to mesmerise millions of youngsters all over the world through the magical universe of Harry Potter.
The impact of this fictional world was so profound that it had nearly every teenager waiting for their acceptance letter into the world of wizards. Although fans will never be a part of that world, they’ve got the next best thing in the non- magical or ‘Muggle’ version of the wizardly sport – Quidditch.
The sport is not only real, but is actually going pro in the United States of America. The Earth-bound version is a mixed gender contact sport with a unique blend of elements from rugby, dodgeball and tag.
A Quidditch team consists of seven athletes with one ‘seeker’, one ‘keeper’, three ‘chasers’, and two ‘beaters’.
Kyle Epsteen, 34, plays keeper for the Lost Boys Quidditch club in Los Angeles, California, and got involved with Quidditch five years ago.
With a background in wrestling and baseball, moving to Quidditch was not only easy, but a great way to apply all the techniques he learnt from other sports.
“Quidditch is a very progres- sive sport and United States Quid- ditch (USQ) welcomes people of all identities into our league. There is no discrimination against players and the sport is truly breaking barriers,” he said.
The sport was initially played with brooms but with broom bris- tles proving uncomfortable, they were then replaced with PVC pipes.
The rules of the game are revised constantly and at first sight, the sport may look a little disorganised, but once you understand the rules Quidditch is both fun to watch and challenging to play.
Participants play with a vol- leyball called the ‘quaffle’, three dodgeballs that act as the ‘bludg- ers’, and the golden snitch, which is basically a velcro tail attached to the shorts of a runner.
Unlike the Harry Potter fran- chise, the golden snitch is worth 30 points instead of a 100 and is attached to the back of a neutral player who is dressed in a yellow uniform and uses any means to avoid capture.
It is the seeker’s job to catch the runner. The three chasers are supposed to score goals with the quaffle that is worth 10 points if they pass it through the hoops.
They advance the ball down the field by running with it, passing it to team-mates or kicking it. Each team has a keeper who defends the goal hoops.
Two beaters use dodgeballs called bludg- ers to disrupt the flow of the game by knocking out other players with them.
Any player hit by a bludger is out of play until they touch their own goalposts and then they can get back in the game. The snitch is worth 30 points and the game ends once it is caught.
If the score is tied after the snitch catch, the game goes to overtime.
Players who commit fouls face different penalties depending on the severity of the offence.
If while running a player drops his broom, it results in a back-to- hoops foul where the player must pick up the pipe and run to the goal- post before he or she is allowed to get back in the game.
The penalty is the same for being knocked out by a bludger.
A yellow card means a player must spend one minute in the penalty box.
A red card means a player is barred for the rest of the game.
Quidditch is all set to take its place in the world of professional sports with the Gulf region also on the radar.
They are also attempting to move away from the Harry Potter genre to avoid any copyrights infringement.
For more information on the sport, log on to www.usquidditch.org
Moroccan track legend Hicham El Guerrouj believes Arab governments and authorities must develop the way they’ve been managing sports in order to be able to produce Olympic champions like himself.
El Guerrouj, who has three Olympic medals – 1,500m and 5,000m gold won in Athens 2004 and 1,500m silver claimed in Sydney 2000 – and is a world record holder, is receiving the Mohammed bin Rashid Creative Sports Award in Dubai on Wednesday, in honour of his storied career in athletics.
The 43-year-old joined Tunisian four-time Olympic medallist Mohammed Gammoudi on stage on Tuesday, to take part in a talk labeled ‘Inspiring Experiences’ at the Sports Creativity Forum at Jumeirah Emirates Towers ahead of Wednesday’s awards ceremony.
“I am so happy to be here in Dubai to get the Mohammed bin Rashid Creative Sports Award. I’m honoured and humbled to be with many athletes like Mohammed Gammoudi, one of my favourites and a role model for me in the sport,” El Guerrouj told Sport360 on Tuesday.
Morocco has a long history in middle distance running, and its athletes have won a total of 19 medals in track and field at the Olympics, 18 of which were won between 1984 and 2012.
But El Guerrouj believes Morocco, and Arab countries in general, should be able to achieve much more on the world stage.
“We celebrate when we come back from the Olympics with two or three medals and that makes me very sad,” he says.
“The investment in sport much be changed, the mentality must change. We continue to manage sport the same way we managed it 20 years ago. This is why we need to adapt, we need to be focused in our goals. Our leaders must adapt to the current sports environment. All the medals we got in the Arab world are much less compared to the big resources we have, be it human or financial resources. I think we can get more and more.”
El Guerrouj’s 1,500m world record of 3:26.00 still stands a staggering 20 years after he claimed it in Rome.
He has run seven of the 10 fastest times in history of the 1,500m and the closest anyone has ever got to his mark Bernard Lagat 17 years ago when he clocked 3:26.34 in Brussels.
El Guerrouj describes how he managed to achieve so much success on the track, and whether he sees anyone breaking his two-decade-old record in the near future.
“My key elements is my passion for sport. The way I managed my career and how I invested in and focused on my career. I’m honoured and I was so happy to have a very good and strong family. My family were supporting me all the time. I used to have a very good and strong team, a very supportive team, as well as a good environment. Environment plays a good role in our career,” he explained.
“It’s my passion to support and to give and to push my body to the limit. Because there is no limit in sport. That’s what athletes must understand. If we want, we can. My record in the 1,500m still stands for 20 years, and that’s a result of something, a result of hard work, of passion of sport, of how we invest in our sport. If there is no passion, no love, no hard work, there is no result.
“I believe there are some good athletes from Kenya that can do something in 2018. Our global athletes must know exactly what they know, because running is managed in a professional way. If you want to get a world record, it’s how you work for it, if you want to be an Olympic champion… that’s why our athletes must be focused. If you want to be something bigger, you have to be more focused.”
Track and field has taken a hit since the retirement of superstar sprinter Usain Bolt and many feel it will be difficult for athletics to recover from the Jamaican’s absence.
El Guerrouj does not see it that way and says someone faster than Bolt is bound to come around.
“I don’t think so. God created six billion people in the world. God decided to create Usain Bolt as he created many athletes before. I think there will be more athletes in the future, maybe not in the next two or three years, but I believe we’ll see a new Usain Bolt maybe in five, 10 years. Faster than Usain Bolt,” said the North African.
“The support has changed. God creates good athletes and also technology is growing. Research and development are doing a strong job in sport. How we create the spikes, the clothes, everything is supporting the athlete to run faster. I think having good athletes, and good technology, and when we mix it we can do something bigger.”
The issue of doping continues to haunt athletics, with many athletes losing their medals after re-testing of samples, and Russia embroiled in a huge scandal.
Does El Guerrouj feel the sport is forever tainted?
“I believe we need to trust in our athletes. We need to continue to trust them. We cannot continue to judge athletes in a negative way. We need to judge them in how they invest their powers, how they are focused on their sport,” he says.
“Of course doping exists and we cannot stop doping just as we can’t stop crime in our society. Crime in society is like doping in sport. That’s why we need to make our organisation stronger to fight against doping but also we need to honour our clean athletes.
“We need to continue supporting clean athletes as we did in the past. The journalists and newspapers must change their mentality also, it must support the clean athletes as we support successful men and women in normal life.”
WINNERS OF THE 9TH MBR CREATIVE SPORTS AWARD
UAE Sports Personality
HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan (UAE)
Arab Sports Personality
HRH Princess Rima bint Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud (KSA)
UAE Outstanding Athlete
Omar Abdul Rahman Al AMoodi (Football)
Ebrahim Yousef Al Mansoori (Beach Soccer)
Saeed Bin Suroor Al Khaldi (Horse Racing)
UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation
Arab Outstanding Athlete
Nour Atef El Sherbini (Egypt – Squash)
Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Al Gannas (KSA)
Tarek Bin Mohamed Souei (Tunisia)
Faris Ibrahim Al Assaf (Jordan)
Iraqi Youth Football Team U16
International Organisation (For Association of Summer Olympic International Federations)
Union Cycliste International (UCI)
International Organisation (For IOC-Recognised International Sports Federations) International Cricket Council (ICC)
Arab Emerging Athlete
Mohammed Mustafa Al Sowaiq (KSA – Taekwondo)
Farida Hisham Osman (Egypt – Swimming)
Difficult Challenges (People of Determination Category):
Abdellatif Baka (Algeria – Athletics)
Fouad Baka (Algeria – Athletics)
Olympic Creative Sports
Mohammed Gammoudi (Tunisia – Athletics)
Hicham El Guerrouj (Morocco – Athletics)
UAE Emerging Athlete (Nominees)
Hussain Yousuf Anwar (Football)
Ammar Mohammed Al Sedrani (Chess)
Maitha Abdulla Hasan (Judo)
Wadima Saeed Abdulla (Jiu-jitsu)
Omar Mohammed Alwan (Jiu-jitsu)
Abdalla Guhloom Al Maazimi (Taekwondo)