Inside Lines: Sport's 'Oscars' in doubt as Rio is hit by more scandals


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The Independent Online

The road to Rio continues to be strewn with controversy and misadventure for the hapless Brazilian organisers of this year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Mounting worries over alarming construction delays at venues for both events, financial shortfalls and threatened violence by disaffected protest groups are now compounded by a drugs scandal involving a 13-year-old swimmer who tested positive following the Brazilian Children's Championships in Rio last November. The unnamed swimmer, the youngest Brazilian athlete to fail a dope test, was suspended for four months last week.

The shocking revelation heightens concerns about the Brazilian Swimming Federation's preparations for the Olympics, for every year since 2003 has seen at least one Brazilian swimmer test positive for an illegal substance.

On top of this we hear that the prestigious Laureus Awards, sport's annual Oscars, due to be held in Rio in March, are in doubt because of a dispute over missing payments for this year's event in the city, as well as last year's. Rio has a two-year contract to stage the awards but the Brazilian media reports that Laureus are still waiting for more than $15 million (£9.11m) from the state government, quoting a leaked email from them to Rio's governor calling the situation "unbearable".

Last year the Soccerex Global Convention in Rio was cancelled following a breakdown between Soccerex and the host city. Says a Laureus spokesperson: "These matters are confidential and we are not able to discuss them. We will be announcing the date for the 2014 Laureus Awards in due course."

If Rio is ruled out, Monaco or London could be on standby.

Falling stars

With 2013 Laureus winner Ennis (now Mrs Ennis-Hill) out of this year's Commonwealth Games because of her pregnancy, and other Olympic stars Usain Bolt and Mo Farah still declining to commit to the event, Glasgow could have done without yet another double blow delivered by the our friend Dr C K Wu's International Boxing Association (AIBA), who have barred Britain's two outstanding male gold-medal hopes, Andrew Selby and Fred Evans, from representing their home country, Wales.

This is because both the flyweight Selby, GB's most-medalled boxer (world silver and bronze and double European champion) and Evans, the 2012 Olympic welterweight silver medallist, are part of the organisation's new APB tournament which clashes with the Games. Although boxers in this competition remain eligible for the Olympics, AIBA say there is no provision in their contracts to release them for the Commonwealth Games, and decline to do so. So Glasgow and the denuded Welsh team have to take it on the chin.

Baring a grudge

George Groves, whose stock has soared since his highly controversial world super-middleweight title defeat by Carl Froch, was among the fistic luminaries lining up to quiz Hollywood heavyweights Sylvester ("Rocky") Stallone and Robert ("Raging Bull") de Niro at a Sky-organised bash in London's Mayfair to promote the ancient couple's new movie Grudge Match.

The story of one-time rivals who come out of retirement in their sixties after 30 years to face each other once again in a score-settling TV blockbuster.

Groves himself grinned that he hopes he won't have to wait quite as long for his own grudge match, a reprise with Froch, which is why he flies to the United States tomorrow to lodge an appeal with the International Boxing Federation in New Jersey. The articulate, now self-managed Groves undoubtedly will argue a good case after what seemed a premature stoppage when he was well winning the fight. "I am sure the IBF will review it fairly and give me a rematch," he says. "All I can do then is wait for the reluctant Mr Froch to engage his brain."