Russia to appeal against ruling that triggered four-year sport bans

By Sports Desk December 19, 2019

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) will appeal against a ruling that has led to the country being banned from global sporting events for four years.

RUSADA was declared non-compliant with World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] standards over inconsistencies in anti-doping data discovered during an investigation.

Athletes will not be able to compete under the Russian flag at the 2020 Olympics or the 2022 Winter Games, while Russia's place at the 2022 World Cup is also in jeopardy.

WADA said on December 9 it had given Russia three weeks in which it could launch an appeal, and RUSADA supervisory board chairman Alexander Ivlev was quoted on Thursday as confirming there would be a challenge to the decision.

"I think it will be in the next 10-15 days," Ivlev said, according to Russia's TASS news agency. "Then the ball will be on the side of WADA, and the situation will develop in the legal field."

The case is set to be reviewed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Despite Russia's ban, individual athletes from the country are still set to be able to enter global competitions under a neutral flag, as was the case for 168 Russians at the 2018 Winter Olympics when the country was banned.

Russian president Vladimir Putin reiterated on Thursday his opposition to the punishment.

Speaking in his annual marathon news conference, Putin said: "With regard to WADA and the WADA decision, I believe that this is not only an unfair decision, but also not consistent with common sense and law."

Putin also said he was confident one global sporting event coming to Russia in 2022 would go ahead as planned.

"I think that the World Volleyball Championship will still be held in Russia, despite the decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency," he said.

"It seems to me we should calmly wait for the final decision, in particular the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in order to understand in what position we are in.

"But the Russian athletes were preparing and will prepare for all competitions."

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    Another week, another Lionel Messi milestone.

    The Barcelona forward has scored his 700th career goal just a little over two years since reaching 600 for club and country.

    It's another remarkable feat for a footballer who continues to break new ground after turning 33.

    Here, we look at the details behind the incredible numbers to see when, where and how he tends to find the net, who likes to set him up, and who is sick of the sight of him...

     

    FOR BARCELONA:

    - Messi has scored 630 goals in 724 appearances for Barca in all competitions - that's 0.87 per game on average. 

    - His first goal came on May 1, 2005 against Albacete in LaLiga. Since then, he has reached 441 goals in 480 matches in Spain's top flight, at least 130 more than any other player in history.

    - He has scored 114 goals in the Champions League, 53 in the Copa del Rey, 14 in the Supercopa de Espana, three in the UEFA Super Cup, and five in the Club World Cup.

     

    FOR ARGENTINA:

    - Messi has scored 70 senior international goals. His first came on March 1, 2006 in a friendly against Croatia, and his most recent was in a friendly last November against Uruguay.

    - He has scored 34 goals in international friendlies, 21 in World Cup qualifiers, nine at the Copa America, and six at the World Cup.

     

    PER YEAR:

    - In each of the past 11 calendar years, Messi has scored at least 40 goals for club and country. In nine of the last 10, he has reached at least 50.

    - His best record in a single year came in 2012, when he scored 91, breaking the previous record of 85 held by Germany great Gerd Muller. He already has 12 in 2020, despite the COVID-19 disruption.

     

    HIS FAVOURITE OPPONENT:

    - Messi has scored 37 goals in 39 games against Sevilla in all competitions. Next up are Atletico Madrid (32 in 41 games).

    - He has managed 26 in 43 games against Real Madrid, making him the all-time top goalscorer in Clasico history.

    - Messi has faced 40 different LaLiga teams and scored at least once against 37 of them. Last November, he became the first player to score against 34 different Champions League opponents, surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul on 33.

     

    HIS LEAST FAVOURITE OPPONENT:

    - Only three LaLiga teams have ever avoided conceding a goal to Messi: Xerez, Real Murcia and Cadiz.

    - Xerez are the only team Messi has faced more than once without scoring. He has played against them twice.

     

    WHEN AND HOW HE SCORES:

    - Messi has scored 43.32 per cent of his goals in the last 15 minutes of the first half or last 15 minutes of the second.

    - He has scored 142 times from set-pieces: 90 penalties and 52 free-kicks.

    - Only 24 of his career goals are headers. The most recent was back in March 2017 against Sporting Gijon. 

    - Messi has scored 83.1 per cent of his goals (582) with his left foot, and 82.8 per cent (580) from inside the box.

    - He has scored 36 LaLiga hat-tricks, which is a record. He has scored three or more times in 54 different matches, the most being five against Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012.

    - His tally of 50 for the 2011-12 LaLiga season is a record.

     

    WHO SETS HIM UP:

    - Luis Suarez has assisted more Messi goals than any other player: 47 in six seasons with Barcelona. Messi has returned the favour 36 times. (CHECK WHO SETS UP ATHLETIC GOAL)

    - The other players with the most assists for Messi are Dani Alves (42), Andres Iniesta (37), Xavi (31), Pedro (25), Neymar (22) and Jordi Alba (20).

    - Messi has 247 assists for Barca. Since his first goal for the club, he has been involved in 879 of their 2,183 goals in all competitions, or 40.2 per cent.

  • Messi 700: The Barcelona and Argentina great's 10 best goals Messi 700: The Barcelona and Argentina great's 10 best goals

    Lionel Messi's cheeky, chipped penalty against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday took him to 700 career goals for club and country.

    The Barcelona and Argentina star has been the scourge of defenders in Spain and across the globe since making his debut professional debut at 17 and his career has now yielded another incredible landmark.

    In the process, the forward has collected 34 club trophies and a record six Ballons d'Or, but international honours have eluded him since he won gold at the 2008 Olympics.

    To celebrate Messi's latest century, we take a look at 10 of his very best and most important goals.

     

    Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

    Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already had one goal wrongly ruled out for offside - an audacious chip from the edge of the box - Messi's confidence was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete stopper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for a club.

     

    Getafe (H): April 18, 2007

    In the 12 years since he first got on the scoresheet, only one of Messi's strikes was ever going to top this list: his Diego Maradona-esque solo goal against Getafe. Messi picked up the ball in his own half and danced around two players before turning on the pace, beating two more defenders and going around the goalkeeper, capping it with a right-footed finish.

    Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

    Described by some as 'a defining goal' in his career, Messi's strike against Real Zaragoza seemed to take him from very good into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in this goal, which began when he won the ball from a tackle on halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling the ball into the far corner - leaving Pep Guardiola speechless.

     

    Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

    This was the height of one of the fiercest Clasico rivalries in decades, as Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid waged war on Guardiola's Barca. They met four times in three competitions in less than a month, including in the Champions League semi-finals, when Messi faced pretty brutal treatment as Madrid tried to shackle him. He scored twice in a 2-0 first-leg win at the Santiago Bernabeu but it is the first goal people remember: the tension of the match, the bitterness of the rivalry, the ducking, weaving slalom through the defence and the composed finish past Casillas, all from the most nonchalant Sergio Busquets assist you will ever see.

     

    Iran (N): June 21, 2014

    Prior to the 2014 World Cup, Messi had only scored one goal in eight appearances. Seemingly determined to step up for Argentina, he netted in his side's opening match before going on to score one of the goals of the tournament in the second against Iran. With the score at 0-0 heading into stoppage time, Messi took control of the ball and bent a powerful strike past the despairing arms of Alireza Haghighi to break Iranian hearts.

    Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

    Having already opened the scoring three minutes earlier to give Barca a 1-0 advantage over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final, Messi doubled his tally with a sumptuous effort. Ivan Rakitic's pass sent Messi on his way, before the little maestro's trickery put Jerome Boateng on his backside and allowed the Argentine to casually lift the ball over the onrushing Manuel Neuer.

     

    Athletic Bilbao (N): May 30, 2015

    The second part of a treble-winning season for Barca came in the form of the Copa Del Rey against Athletic Bilbao. With 20 minutes gone and the score deadlocked, Messi set off on a marauding run down the right wing and soon found himself trapped amongst three defenders. Naturally, Messi was able to float past the trio as if they weren't there, before cutting into the box and beating Iago Herrerin at his near post.

    Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

    El Clasico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Real Madrid the title, and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in the 92nd minute gave Jordi Alba the chance to square it to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

     

    Ecuador (A): October 11, 2017

    Romario Ibarra's first-minute goal in the last match of CONMEBOL qualification left football fans across the globe staring at the prospect of the unthinkable – a World Cup without Messi. Enter the man himself, who dragged Argentina out of a bumbling stupor to single-handedly tear Ecuador apart with a sensational hat-trick. The shift of pace and stunning, dipping finish into the top corner to claim the matchball was the best of the bunch and a grateful bench spilled on to the field to mob their hero.

     

    Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

    Messi has never won the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, although he has twice come second, most recently for this effort against Real Betis in a 4-1 win last season. He sent the ball left to Ivan Rakitic and hurried to the edge of the box for the return ball, then - having shaped for a powerful strike towards the near post - chipped a sublime effort into the far corner beyond the despairing Pau Lopez. The goal completed his hat-trick and earned an ovation from the home fans but was not enough to beat Debrecen's Daniel Zsori to the Puskas prize.

  • Big-impact athletes not making a dent on climate change Big-impact athletes not making a dent on climate change

    The effects of climate change are staring athletes dead in the eye.

    The increased expenses of cooling Stadia around the world should be disturbing enough.

    It’s full time athletes advocate for the environment.

    Yes, climate change affects everybody.

    The thing is, I can list everyday people who try to spread knowledge about it. I remember reaching out to Suzanne Stanley, CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust because I was curious.

    I wanted to know more about the environment and climate change and I wanted to share that knowledge with others. She answered all my questions.

    There aren’t many athletes who, with their millions of Instagram followers and big endorsement contracts who have taken similar steps. Maybe it isn’t their job, but it is their business.

    Sport contributes to climate change in more ways than we think. Researchers have even dubbed the industry’s impact on the environment, an ‘inconvenient truth’.

    Here’s one example. To fill a stadium ahead of an event, athletes, spectators and the media travel. This travel impacts the environment in major ways. Air travel, driving by bus, taxi, or personal vehicles add to the regular release of carbon dioxide into the air.

    Carbon dioxide traps heat— increasing the global temperature. As places get hotter, you may find just as sport impacted the environment, the environment will now begin to impact sport.

    At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, water breaks became a regular part of the game. Interestingly, water breaks just to help footballers survive 90 minutes on the pitch are expected to be part of the sport for the foreseeable future. Will we wait until the medical requirements for playing a game of football become too prohibitive for the game to be played? Maybe that is too far down the road for some of us to look.

    Cutting down trees increases temperatures as well. We need trees because they absorb carbon dioxide. Less carbon dioxide, less trapping of heat, cooler temperatures.

    However, every few years, there are a number of cities and/or countries that bid on major international events like the World Cup or the Olympic Games. For a bid to be successful, that country or city has to prove it can provide the facilities to host those games.

    Yes, you guessed it, these stadia are going to be built at the expense of trees. Trees in the construction, as well as trees just to make space.

    Sports like car racing contribute to the carbon footprint. These athletes get paid to do a sport that glorifies the internal combustion engine. When income is involved (and lots of it) it’s easy to turn a blind eye.

    Formula One racing, for instance, is a billion-dollar-per-year business, climate change be damned.

    NASCAR is another racing entity that hovers around the billion-dollar mark as well, but the need for big engines and blinding speed will mean, unlike the circuit has done with the Black Lives Matters campaign, there won’t be too much change.

    Thank God for Formula E!

    What I’m saying is, we all have a part to play in spreading awareness about climate change. This includes how we contribute to it and ways to mitigate/adapt to it. But athletes are barely doing anything. Hardly ever utilizing their following.

    Why aren’t the voices from athletes posting information about climate change on social media platforms as big as the carbon footprint their sports leave?

    Let me make some suggestions that won’t hurt an athlete.

    There are fun and accurate infographics about climate change that are free to share. Infographics aren't overwhelming— this is good for short attention spans. They give relevant information quickly and clearly. The visuals help too.

    But before athletes can share information, they have to educate themselves. Luckily, they can ask around as I did.

    There are athletes who do their part and are providing an example for others to follow.

    Elaine Thompson was the ambassador for NuhDuttyUpJamaica and participated in the International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2017.

    It’s an eye-opening experience to see just how much waste is collected.

    Last but not least, and I don’t envisage this happening anytime soon, but athletes and the associations that fund events need to begin sanctioning countries that don’t take climate change seriously. Don’t compete in those countries. Let’s see the reformative power of sport at work.

    The lack of advocacy from athletes would suggest they aren’t impacted by climate change.

    Maybe their spacious houses have a pool and air conditioning to keep them cool. Perhaps they fly out to another country when the weather in their own takes a turn for the worse, who knows?

    What I do know is climate change affects everyone. We all need to speak up about it.

    Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

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