Inside Lines: New anti-doping unit must pass test
The increasingly impressive Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, has proved he is no dope with his positive approach to setting up a new independent anti-drugs unit. Even his Tory opposite number, Hugh Robertson, admits Sutcliffe seems to be going the right way about things, noting some "welcome U-turns" on sport by the Government: "We'll have to rewrite our own sports policy now they seem to be pinching ours." Tory peers Seb Coe and Colin Moynihan in their respective Olympic guises have been pushing for Gordon Brown to back the scheme. Sutcliffe tells us he hopes plans for the unit will be in place by next spring, though it won't be operating in time for Beijing. How independent will it really be? Many of UK Sport's existing 20-strong anti-doping team will be involved, though some may have to reapply for their old jobs. Michele Verroken, sacked in 2004 as their boss after speaking out in favour of an independent body, is ideally equipped to head up the new agency. Whether she is even considered will be the first true test of its "independence".
Caborn joins the fight in boxing's corner
Gerry Sutcliffe's predecessor, Richard Caborn, shamefully elbowed by the shabby suits at the FA as a prospective independent chairman, is still in there punching. The 2018 World Cup bid envoy is now president of the Amateur Boxing Association of England, whose inaugural awards dinner takes place in Sheffield tomorrow. He'll be on hand with Amir Khan and Barry McGuigan to present awards in an outstanding year for a sport reaping the benefits of support from himself and Sutcliffe, who fought off the politically correct brigade. Frankie Gavin is a certainty for Boxer of the Year.
Shifting sands on the road to Marrakech
When they get tired of flitting off to their holiday hideaways in Barbados and Dubai, our super-rich footballers may well consider that the next "in" place to splash the cash will be Morocco, less than three hours from the UK by easyJet, or, if you are a Premier Leaguer, private jet. Bridgehouse International are hoping to entice them to a stunning new golf complex in Marrakech that would be posh enough even for Becks. The Samanah Country Club has villas going for a million or more and a course designed by Jack Nicklaus, though curiously they are having trouble with the sand. There's enough of it, being on the edge of the Sahara, but it's the wrong sort, so they are having to import tons ofit from France!
Robson honoured but snub for golden girls
Who will be this year's BBC Sports Personality is still in the balance, but we can reveal that Sir Bobby Robson, the former England manager, again battling cancer, is deservedly to be given the lifetime achievement award. Controversially, Christine Ohuruogu, although banned for most of the year, is a leading candidate for the main award, yet there is no room for worthier world champions Anna Hemmings (canoeing) or Vicky Pendleton (cycling). Omissions we hope colleagues in the Sports Journalists' Association take notice of for their own awards.
Hatton tickets too hot for Posh and the Spice Girls
Whatever the result of that contretemps in Las Vegas in the early hours, Ricky Hatton landed one KO victory. His full-house fight with Floyd Mayweather was the hottest ticket in town, some selling at 15 times face value, leaving Posh and the old Spice Girls with seats available at all prices in their comeback promotion, which was moved down The Strip.
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
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