Inside Lines: Slap on the wrist for Saunders but 2012 hope is set to go pro

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The Independent Online

Billy Joe Saunders, the young boxer at the hub of Britain's boxing bust-up in Beijing, has been given a mere slap on the wrist by the Amateur Boxing Association – a £250 fine for alleged "lewd behaviour" on a video – which leaves him free to compete in November's European Championships in Liverpool. However, the probability is that he will instead turn professional with promoter Frank Warren. An announcement is likely this week. Saunders is angry that his original suspension, after what simply involved the use of a relatively innocuous four-letter word months before the Games, was leaked by an ABA official, undermining the Olympic team. Last week a disciplinary panel described the offence as "minor". The loss of the highly talented 19-year-old welterweight will be a major blow to Britain's 2012 prospects, with other squad members, including gold medallist James DeGale, also set to turn pro if coach Terry Edwards quits or is discarded.

Games poser for PM

Gordon Brown clearly has more pressing matters on his mind, but there is no doubt that 2012 figures on his "to fix" list. Insiders say he is keen to tighten the Government's grip on the London Games in the coming Cabinet reshuffle, but will this mean replacing Tessa Jowell with a more strident voice on the Tory-overloaded Olympics board? The 2012 organisers hope not, because Jowell is popular with them, but it may be that Brown will give Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, who is one of his better appointments, increased responsibility over Olympic affairs.

Wind up in Windy City

Barack Obama seems to have edged ahead of John McCain in the US presidential race, and his home city of Chicago also has its nose just in front in the quest to follow London as Olympic hosts in 2016. And it is relying on Obama to see that it stays that way. With only a one-point lead in the polls over Madrid, Rio and Tokyo before next year's IOC vote in Copenhagen, the Windy City has the wind up. For a McCain win next month would damage Chicago's hopes, certainly if he turned up in Copenhagen, asit was the septuagenarian senator who led the US government investigation into the IOC's affairs following the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, his critical comments causing fury among an organisation which harbours grudges. Just in case, Chicago has enlisted Michael Phelps, the new darling of the Olympics, as cheerleader-in-chief.

King gets foot in the door

Talking of sharp-tongued septuagenarians, Don King has been inducted into America's Gaming Hall of Fame. As this is the same Don King who once stomped a man to death in a gambling dispute, should it not now be renamed the Gaming Hall of Infamy?

Cycling now Sky high

When your six-year-old grandson asks for a racing bike for Christmas rather than football boots, and Rupert Murdoch puts his hand in his pocket and fishes out £47 million, you know a sport has arrived. Cycling's popularity has never been higher, thanks to the Olympic exploits of triple gold medallist Chris Hoy and Co. Sky insist their massive new sponsorship of the sport is not jumping on the bandwagon but born of a genuine desire by their proprietor to put more bums on saddles, thus indicating that he is doing his bit for the environment. As Rupe seems to have pedalled from blue to red politically, he obviously feels the time has come to turn green.

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