Inside Lines: London's sweeteners end on a sour note

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The Independent Online

London's decision to withdraw the controversial £15m package of inducements seems to have pre-empted any decision by the International Olympic Committee to censure their 2012 bid team, led by Sebastian Coe, for improper conduct. This would have created immense embarrassment and possibly scuppered any chance London may have of snatching the Games from Paris.

Yesterday's move will be seen as a damage-limitation exercise, although there is little doubt hasty repairs are needed to restore London's image before the crucial vote in Singapore on 6 July. Although the IOC's Ethics Commission cleared New York's offers of marketing assistance to sports federations, their deliberations suggested they were unlikely to treat London as leniently, because the incentives appeared more of a blatant offer to "buy" the Games.

The IOC president, Jacques Rogge, had made it clear he was unhappy that the race for 2012 was being turned into an auction, and London's move had shocked some senior figures in the Olympic movement. One remarked: "We would have hoped London had more class. This has lowered the tone. Surely it cannot have been Seb Coe's idea."

Some observers thought that Lord Coe, who was on the original IOC anti-corruption commission, looked less than comfortable when unzipping London's bulging goodie bag in Berlin last week. While London's bid may not be falling down, it is clear that much of the momentum gained in recent months has been lost. London's own goal may have played into Paris's hands.

Salmon off, but Amir finally hooks big fish

The departure of the BBC's sports overlord, Peter Salmon, for fresh waters could be good news for boxing. Salmon was largely blamed for throwing silly money at the now unlamented Audley Harrison, resulting in a BBC decision to KO professional telecasts.

Whoever succeeds him (Beeb football chief Niall Sloane, Radio Five's Bob Shannon and Channel 4's Robert Charles are front-runners) will know the sport still pulls in the viewers. Perhaps this was why Frank Warren says that his blockbuster British heavyweight title fight between Matt Skelton and Danny Williams, scheduled for July, will "not necessarily" be screened by Sky, with whom he is in contract-renewal negotiations.

More likely, though, is that ITV are again throwing their cap into the ring. They were in the US last week filming a documentary on Nottingham's unbeaten Carl Froch, and will be showing live the on-off Amir Khan-Mario Kindelan scrap which, as Warren will announce tomorrow, is now on again, at Bolton's Reebok on 14 May.

Fans asked to put their shirts on Wrexham

Many's the shirt that has been lost on a racecourse, but with luck a few winners will emerge from an auction to be held at Sotheby's Olympia on 18 May. Signed shirts from all 92 Premiership, Coca-Cola Championship and League One and Two clubs are being sold to help the Wrexham Supporters' Trust to buy the 133-year-old Racecourse Ground from the current owner, Alex Hamilton, who has given the League One club notice of eviction from 21 July and pledges to bulldoze the ground. Says one of the organisers, Neil Williams: "There must be some football-mad fans who have the cash to bid for this unique collection, which would add valuable funds to our bid to save the club." Wrexham are in administration and face liquidation, so this rescue attempt seems worth a flutter.

Whatever induced the Tour de France cycling legend Lance Armstrong to renege on his public backing of Paris for 2012 ("An excellent candidate... they deserve the Games," he said during the visit of the IOC Evaluation Commission) and instead lend his unstinting support to New York?

Could it be the less-than-rapturous reception the Texan consequently received from the New York media? "Traitour de France" was the headline in the New York Post. "He dumped his wife and now he's turned his back on his country," they declared, labelling him "the wheely weasel". The upshot is that he has now back-pedalled, telling Big Apple bigwigs: "I'm here to lend my enthusiastic support to help New York cross the finishing line first." Armstrong, who has always denied drugs allegations, cannot be thrilled with the observation of the US Olympian Michael Johnson: "I have no idea if he has taken steroids. He has never tested positive. What I do know is that he is treated differently in America because he has had cancer."

The first Islamic Solidarity Games in Saudi Arabia have ended with the hosts topping the medal table following a 1-0 football-final victory over Morocco.

But the nation to watch out for in Beijing could be Kazakhstan, the largest of the former Soviet satellites, on the borders of Russia and China, who finished second and virtually cleaned up in the swimming pool. Could they be the new East Germany? All went swimmingly elsewhere, despite poor attendances, though there was a defection of sorts. One of the few Christian competitors, the Ugandan weightlifter Noah Sowobi, converted to Islam and was said by his manager to be "looking forward to getting circumcised when he gets home". You bet.