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Posts Tagged ‘banned’

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Clean Report

For the longest time, I was boycotting the America’s Cup.  Despite Bermuda’s proximity to the US and kind invitations for us from a number of teams and sponsors, I didn’t want to lend any legitimacy to a venue that, in my opinion, represented a betrayal to America and all those fans who’d supported Ellison in Oracle’s huge legal and then design battle against Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi team.  If you’re balls deep in the Cup like we are, you’ll remember that SA was extremely hard on Bertarelli for his proposed changes to the AC, which we saw as sabotage of the history and legacy of the AC.  So hard, in fact, that we became embedded inside Oracle Team in Valencia, running daily talk shows from their base and helping in the effort to demoralize Alinghi. And when asked why Larry Ellison’s plan was any different than the “Ernievision” plan for the Cup, my answer was simple and became rote: “If he shows that he’s not, we’ll be just as hard on him as we were on Ernesto.”

I missed the incredible excitement of San Francisco in 2013 thanks to a conflict with the Little America’s Cup, which my small crew streamed live from Falmouth, England during the day before watching the AC matches late in the night with the entire C-Class fleet – all at the club where Ben Ainslie learned to sail.  While a great experience – and still the coolest boats ever – I’ll never forgive myself for not being on the ground during the most fascinating and compelling competition in yachting history.

A year later, when Ellison removed the Cup competition from the USA and still later when the so-called ‘Framework’ was signed by all the teams but one, we realized that Larry – or henchman Russell Coutts –  in fact had quite similar ideas to Bertarelli: Profit to come from shopping the venue out to gullible governments, and sponsor VIP fulfillment thanks to an annual perpetual league of racing.  Neither idea is a bad idea, but neither idea comes close to the Deed’s intent, and neither idea is the America’s Cup.

Fast forward to just before the LV Qualifiers last month; I was riveted to my computer and the SA forums watching incredible racing in the kind of boats that SA has been begging for since something like 2005.  Finally, there really was something in sailing that captures some of what I love about Formula 1, and I wasn’t there!  With no decision made, I sent a little feeler e-mail out to the AC folks via their Media Accreditation Application.  I made it clear I wasn’t looking for Media Center access, didn’t need a Media Boat, and wasn’t interested in parties, accommodations, press kits, swag bags, or any of the other bullshit that most events use to try to convince reporters to be nice.  In fact, I didn’t need anything at all other than attendance at the press conferences.

Imagine my surprise when I received this e-mail, even before deciding whether to head over to the island.

Dear Alan Block,

Thank you for your media accreditation request for the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda.

Your accreditation request has been received and considered. Unfortunately it has not been accepted which means you will not be issued with a media pass and access to the 35th America’s Cup Media Centre.

Please be aware that entry to the public facilities at the 35th America’s Cup does not require a media accreditation pass. Our website, www.americascup.com/tickets will provide you with all information regarding the range of ticket packages that are available.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Ferrando, Media Centre Manager

Immediately after the shock wore off from what is my first-ever media accreditation denial, I booked my ticket to Bermuda.

Next, I set about trying to figure out how a modern sporting event, sponsored to the tune of $77M by an island nation – one that relies nearly entirely on American tourism – could reject the single most-read publisher of sailing content in America.  The handwriting was on the wall already as far as the commercial success of the event; the interest among Americans was at an all-time low, the early ratings on MSNBCSN were dismal, and the event must be desperate for american eyeballs.  And yet even after sending over proof of the million-plus American readers of this site, I got another rejection – this time, after the thing had been kicked uphill to their Comms Director.

Dear Alan,
Your email below has been forwarded to me so I can reply.
We judge each application for media accreditation to the 35th America’s Cup on its own merits, bearing in mind the resources we have available in the Media Centre.
As with various others, we have decided to exercise our right to decline your application. 
Sincerely,
Tom Webb

In the media world, that’s called a non-answer, and I correctly guessed that Tom Webb – a real media professional whose worked with much tougher reporters than me in his F1 days – had nothing to do at all with this decision. I wrote back:

Thanks for the personal response Tom. Can you please explain what those criteria are, and whether or not non-accredited individuals are permitted in the press conferences?  To be frank I couldn’t care less about the media center, media boats, or any other trappings of entitled reporters. I do however know that our readers want to have their questions represented…
By this point, I knew that nothing I wrote would change things, because this was personal.  I had pissed off Sir Russell, and this was his revenge.  Petty? Maybe.  Showing a total lack of the most basic understanding of the media and concern for the event’s sponsor?  Absolutely.  The expected response showed up shortly thereafter:
Hi Alan,
Non-accredited personnel are not allowed in the press conferences.
Tom
I let it end there – the last thing I’d ever do is beg the America’s Cup for accreditation, preferring to use my anger to fight back in the best way I know – by reporting on it.
I remain hopeful that it was really all just a minor screwup and that I’ll get an invitation to this afternoon’s presser, but you won’t find me holding my breath!
Keep watching this page for more AC coverage until the end.

June 24th, 2017 by admin

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RussianFlag3Russia’s recent sporting exploits include allegedly fixing the bid along with FIFA for the 2018 World Cup and using the Sochi Olympics to divert attention from an armed buildup that would turn into an invasion and annexation of a sovereign neighbor, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the Russian government has run a huge state-sponsored doping scheme for its Olympic athletes.  But even the most jaded Russophobe might still be shocked at just how big and pervasive the program was.

The doping scheme was uncovered by a German TV report almost a year ago, and in the meantime,  WADA – the independent agency charged with investigating and preventing doping in the Olympics and many other high-profile events – spent a small fortune investigating the charges. This morning, they released their over-300 page report, and it’s nasty.

The New York Times wrote that “Members of Russia’s secret service intimidated workers at a drug-testing lab to cover up top athletes’ positive results.”  FSB agents “impersonated lab engineers during the Winter Olympics in Sochi last year.” A lab once destroyed more than 1,400 samples to keep them from the investigation.  “Athletes adopted false identities to avoid unexpected testing. Some paid to make doping violations disappear. Others bribed the antidoping authorities to ensure favorable results, and top sports officials routinely submitted bogus urine samples for athletes who were doping.”

The report implicates athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors, and the Russian institutions and government agencies that helped engineer and fund the program, and we’re still reading to find out whether it was as big and unethical as the Soviet and East German programs of the 60s and 70s that are credited with creating modern blood doping.  Interpol is starting criminal investigations, WADA discredited Russia’s national testing lab, the IAAF are discussing Russia’s punishment while everyone’s trying to figure out who gets their medals stripped – and who becomes a newly-crowned medalist.

Finally, Olympic Sailing finally gets some freedom from the pollution limelight – but only because the Russian Sailing Team needs a lot more than steroids and adderall to start winning.  Surely ISAF is praying that their prominent partner had nothing to do with the doping despite being a major sponsor for the Russian National Team…’cause Gazprom doing something unethical would be a huge surprise…

And of course, old Vlad is denying the whole thing as either a fabrication or a conspiracy. Just like those fabricated tanks in Crimea.

You can download the full report here.

 

November 10th, 2015 by admin

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