WBSC names SSK as Official Ball for Premier12, 2020 Olympic Baseball and Baseball World Cups

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and the Osaka-based SSK Corporation today announced a partnership expansion that makes the iconic Japanese brand the Exclusive/Official Competition Ball and Kit Supplier of baseball’s biggest upcoming international events through 2020, including the top-tier 2019 Premier12, the 2020 Olympic Games and 2018-2020 Baseball World Cups.

The agreement expands upon WBSC and SSK’s already existing global partnership, which made SSK the exclusive Umpire Kit Supplier for the inaugural 2015 Premier12 and Baseball World Cups (U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23, and Women’s) for the 2015-2020 cycle.

As part of the newly expanded agreement, and beginning with the upcoming WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup 2018 in Panama this August, SSK will have a major presence on the field of play of WBSC international baseball events, with the umpires kit, WBSC officials apparel and competition ball all derived from SSK’s elite product line.

In addition, the SSK logo will be featured on all outfield fences and within team dugouts, and the SSK corporate video will be shown on the scoreboard during select WBSC Premier12 and Baseball World Cup games. The innovative Japanese baseball brand will also have an in-stadium presence that includes space for setting up exhibitions. SSK will also have the right to use the WBSC, Baseball World Cup and Premier12 logos for other promotional and advertising activity.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said: “Only an iconic and elite baseball brand like SSK could be trusted to fill this critical role during what will be some of the most impactful and most watched international baseball events in history. WBSC is delighted to welcome SSK as the Official Competition Ball and Kit Supplier of international baseball and expand upon our partnership that has spanned more than 20 years. With committed partners like SSK, we will continue to drive baseball into a new and golden global era.”

SSK President Kyoichi Sasaki said: “SSK’s brand motto is ‘Baseball, it’s our game’. We strive to connect the world through the sport of baseball and help them achieve a better life. SSK will be providing official competition balls to Baseball World Cups of all categories, from U-12 to professional – competitions that crown the best baseball country in the world. SSK has been supporting WBSC with umpire gear and apparels for over 20 years, and through this agreement with WBSC, we aim to contribute to baseball’s further development in the world.”

Established in 1950, SSK has evolved into one of the most elite and innovative baseball brands whose products are used by many top professional players and clubs around the world.

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IOC and Russian Olympic Committee to sign four-year anti-doping agreement

A four-year anti-doping agreement is set to be signed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), it has been announced.

New ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, elected to succeed Alexander Zhukov last week, said the deal would feature "international cooperation measures, including measures against anti-doping rules violations".

Pozdnyakov was quoted as saying by Russia's official state news agency TASS that the agreement would be signed by Olympic Solidarity Commission chairman Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah on behalf of the IOC.

insidethegames understands the action plan due to be signed by the IOC and the ROC is standard practice for the Olympic Solidarity Commission, who usually sign anti-doping agreements with the larger National Olympic Committees.

Olympic Solidarity Commission chairman Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah is reportedly set to sign the agreement with the ROC on behalf of the IOC ©Getty Images
Olympic Solidarity Commission chairman Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah is reportedly set to sign the agreement with the ROC on behalf of the IOC ©Getty Images

But this partnership takes on added significance after the IOC suspended the ROC and forced Russian athletes to compete as neutrals at the 2018 Winter OIympic Games in Pyeongchang as punishment for the "systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system carried out by the country at Sochi 2014.

The IOC quickly reinstated the ROC just days after the conclusion of Pyeongchang 2018 despite two of the Olympic Athletes from Russia delegation failing drugs tests during the event.

"I am heading for Lausanne next Tuesday and we have an agreement, which will be signed later," said Pozdnyakov, according to TASS.

Pozdnyakov was elected ROC President after defeating challenger Alexander Popov at the election last Tuesday (May 29).

The 44-year-old is a four-time Olympic and 10-time world champion in fencing.

He had always been heavily favoured against an opponent who won four Olympic gold medals in sprint freestyle swimming.

Pozdnyakov replaces Alexander Zhukov, who led the ROC throughout the country's doping scandal and automatically ceased to be an IOC member after the Presidential election.

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Cooperation of the Croatian and Cuban Olympic Committee

Croatian and Cuban Olympic Committee signed on October 12, 2016, the Memorandum on Cooperation between the Croatian and the Cuban Olympic Committee, involving the exchange of knowledge and experience particularly in the field of sports medicine and coaching profession.

The one particularly interested in cooperation in this area is the Croatian Baseball Federation, whose president Osvaldo Vavra announced more intensive cooperation in the development of baseball, which is included in the program of the Olympic Games 2020.

The Memorandum was signed by the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Zlatko Mateša and Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, Juan Antonio Fernández, in the presence of Elio Rodríguez Perdomo, Director for Europe and Canada at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, President of the Croatian Baseball Federation Osvaldo Vavra, Proxy of Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Jasna Derviš and Head of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Department for International Cooperation Ljiljana Ujlaki Šubić.

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Did the CIA Sabotage Russia at the Olympics?

It makes no logical sense that an athlete would do a one-time consumption of a chemical that is of no value in circumstances where it is almost certain to be detected with huge negative consequences.

That is precisely the situation. The Russian Mixed Curling bronze medal winner, Alexander Krushelnitsky, had to give up his medal, plus that of his partner wife, because traces of meldonium were found in his urine sample. He had previously tested clean. Meldonium is a medication which helps keep the heart healthy by increasing blood flow. That would be of no benefit in a sport like curling which requires accuracy, strategy and focus but is not taxing physically. The “sweeping” to help guide the rock down the ice lasts only 20 seconds or less. International curlers were astounded at the news and bemused at the idea of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) for curling. The skip of the Danish curling team said ”I think most people will laugh and ask, ‘what could you possibly need doping for?”

Image result for Alexander Krushelnitzky

Krushelnitsky (image on the right) strongly denies taking banned drugs.

“I am categorically opposed to doping …. never, at any time that I have been involved in sport, have I ever used prohibited substances”.

Similar curious circumstances apply in the second ADRV.  Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva had numerous negative (clean) tests before she was tested positive for banned trimetazidine.  Bobsledding is another sport which requires physical and mental skill but not physical endurance.

In the February 25 IOC meeting to close the Peyongchang Winter Games, the head of the IOC Implementation Group, Nicole Hoevertz, said the Russian athletes had been tested “more than any other athletes”. She and her group were convinced that the 168 member Russian athletic team was clean. At about 35:00 in the video, she says the two Russian doping violations were “very peculiar.” She introduced the Director of the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission, Dr. Bludgett, to provide more detail. He suggested that meldonium would not be of benefit in curling. He then went further and suggested the ADRV regarding trimetazidine may be in error. He said trimetazidine “is a substance where there is a parent compound which is a common headache migraine treatment available particularly in China and Japan and if that is found then it is not considered an ADRV. And if there is a very low level, as there was in this case, that is a possibility.”

Image result for Nadezhda Sergeeva

Sergeeva (image on the left) denies ever taking banned drugs and even went on social media
with a T-shirt declaring her commitment to clean sport.

In summary, it seems highly unlikely that two different Russian athletes would intentionally take medications that have no benefit but which are almost guaranteed to be detected resulting in huge harm to them and their team.

Who Benefits?

Another possibility is that meldonium or trimetazidine powder was surreptitiously put in the food of the athletes. This one time consumption would cause a positive test.

In fact there are forces on the international scene who are pleased that Russia has been battling defamation and charges of “state sponsored doping” for the past two years. They want the current denigration and punishments of Russia to continue, perhaps influencing Russia’s upcoming national election and undermining Russia’s hosting of the Football World Cup this summer.

One such group is the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA has a long history of big and small criminal deeds. Presumably it would not be difficult for them to infiltrate Olympic facilities or bribe a corrupt individual to put traces of meldonium or another powder in someone’s food or drink.

Those who quickly dismiss this possibility probably also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2002. That was a false claim supported by evidence fabricated by the CIA.

It is well documented the CIA carries out murders, coups and major sabotage. The CIA has documented some of their methods in “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception”. They don’t just carry out assassinations and coups. In the book “In Search of Enemies”, former CIA officer John Stockwell documented how the CIA created a false story about Cuban soldiers raping Angolan women to defame Cuba.

Corrupt police forces sometimes plant evidence on a suspect they wish to convict. It would be essentially the same thing to get a Russian athlete to ingest spiked food or beverage. The CIA has motive and expressed intent:

  • In contrast with Russian leaders who call the US a “partner”, US officials increasingly call Russia an “adversary”. The latest US National Security Strategy explicitly says they intend to respond to Russia as an adversary: “ The United States will respond to the growing political, economic and military competitions we face around the world. China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”

  • Despite the lack of clear evidence, there is widespread belief that Russia “meddled” in the US election. The anti-Russia sentiment has been fanned into the exaggerated claim that the unproven Russian action was “an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare”.
  • Neoconservatives forces openly talk about “punishing” Russia. The former Deputy Director of the CIA, Michael Morrell, said “We need to make the Russians pay a price” . He confirmed on public television that means killing Russians (and Iranians) in Syria. This is the 33 year veteran CIA leader who publicly campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

Did the CIA plant the doping evidence? We don’t know for certain but it should not be dismissed out of hand. The CIA has the means, opportunity and above all the motive to falsely implicate Russians in new doping cases with the goal of preventing Russia from getting beyond the international sporting sanctions and punishments.  They have done vastly more deceitful, manipulative, and outrageous things than this.

Media Bias

Unfortunately, western media will not investigate this possibility. Western media cannot even accurately report on events like the IOC meeting yesterday. The fact that the head of the IOC Implementation Group warmly praised the Russian participation at the Peyongchang Olympics is not mentioned in western media. The fact that Dr. Bludgett raised questions about the accuracy of the ADRVs against Russia is not mentioned in reports from NY Times, the UK Guardian or Inside the Games. Instead, the writer at Inside the Games once again exaggerated the voice of critics of Russia as he downplayed the voices of international athletes who want to put the doping scandal behind and move forward.

Western media have reported deceptively that the Russian athletes have “admitted” to the violations. In fact, both Russian athletes strongly deny taking banned drugs.

Western media bias is also shown in the focus on alleged Russian doping and minimization or ignoring of other possible violations. For example the story about the Norwegian cross-country ski team and their use of banned asthmatic medications. They get around the restrictions by having their doctor claim that most of their athletes are asthmatic. This situation is a result of the inconsistent rules and regulations. A Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)  can be given to any athlete designated by a doctor and in secrecy. They are not required to publicly disclose this, giving incentive to corruption and misuse.

Richard McLaren’s Bias

Image result for wada richard mclaren

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has also been biased. Over one year ago, their investigator Richard McLaren (image on the right) claimed “over one thousand Russian athletes benefited” from the alleged Russian conspiracy to cheat the ant-doping system. McLaren said the proof would be provided to the various sport federations. In September 2017 it was revealed that charges had been filed against 96 athletes. Of these, WADA cleared 95 athletes of wrongdoing; only one athlete was proven to be in violation. More recently, the Court of Arbitration in Sport completely overturned the bans on 28 Russian athletes. In summary, it appears that McLaren’s accusation about “over one thousand athletes benefiting” was a huge exaggeration or fabrication.

Where Do Things Go From Here?

The IOC Executive Board has indicated they intend to lift the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee if no more “anti doping rule violations” are found in the last batch of athlete samples from the Peyongchang Olympics. The results are expected in a few days.

Another ADRV may appear. If so, that will greatly complicate the effort to reintegrate Russian athletics. Even if the final tests are all clean, those who oppose Russia will continue trying to delay or prevent the full integration of Russia within the world sporting Community.

The former Moscow Laboratory Director Grigory Rodchenkov is the primary weapon in the campaign accusing Russia of “state sponsored doping”. “Icarus” is a movie about him which has received huge funding and promotion. It is nominated for an an Oscar Academy award. This will serve the campaign well.

The Russian have been accused of trying to murder Rodchenkov  But if he suddenly dies one day, it is more likely to be by the CIA.  At this point, Rodchenkov has done all the damage he can to Russian sports. The only thing he could possibly do is to recant or fall apart. His handlers have prevented him from appearing before the various committees looking into the accusations. At this point, Rodchenkov could be more valuable dead than alive. His death would be a powerful weapon to disrupt the normalization of relations with Russia.

In conclusion, going back to the Peyonchang Olympics, there should be caution before assuming the guilt of the Russian athletes who received ADRVs. It makes no sense that two Russian athletes would take useless medications knowing they will be tested and found out.

The doping incident serves the interests of those in the West who seek more not less conflict and seek to weaken Russia through “hybrid” warfare. It is possible the CIA has a hand in the latest incidents, just as they have a hand in Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov. They have the means, opportunity and motive. They have the experience and history.

If this is true, it’s another example of the dangerous descent in international relations. The Olympics movement has the goal of fostering peaceful relations. The sad truth is there are forces who want to prevent that. They prefer to demonize and divide in a quest for economic and geopolitical supremacy over “adversaries”. International sports is just another arena for them.

  • Published in Sports

Seven-Inning Baseball?

Not the first time the topic is approached, and by the same person, because the chairman of the World Confederation of Baseball and Softball, Italian Ricardo Fraccari has been long pleading for changes in the rules so that, baseball especially becomes more attractive in countries where is not practiced regularly, and stays in the official program of the Olympic Games.

After appearing uninterruptedly since Barcelona-1992 until Beijing-2008, this sport will return to the Olympic games of Tokyo-2020, but Fraccari wants it to stay for good. Fraccari has considered vital the introduction of a few changes to do it more attractive and especially, shorter in time-consuming.

He insists, and he is certainly right about it that the dynamics of current times is that the youth worldwide is not willing to spend more than three hours watching a ball game, when at the same time other sports are on.

That is the main reason for which he has promoted changes, and the most polemic and radical is to downsize the baseball to seven innings.

Purists fall off their seats, but the question here is to be or not to be. Do we prefer to respect rules but remain on the sidelines of the Games? Those who wish to be in the Games must adapt, and the most radical measure is in fact the one of reducing innings.

In his condition as member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Fraccari realized that doping cases or the lack of the most upper-class professionals was not a big problem, because that also affects other sports. However, in a board of European majority, from countries that don’t play baseball massively, the time used is a key factor. Also, other sports have made important modifications to their rules, but not baseball, and that is also seen as an expression of willing to adapt.

On the other hand, baseball keeps the same rules of its origins, and the little changes done to shorten the time of the game (base on balls with a pitch, chronometer for pitchers, etc.) have not produced a remarkable change in the duration of matches, as it would certainly do to play only seven innings.

I particularly like baseball as it is, but as I mentioned at the beginning, it’s to adapt or die, and I’d rather like the Olympic tournament to be played to seven innings, before none is played. Boxing has different rules in its Olympic style, soccer has age limit, basketball also modifies its rules regarding professionals, however, they are included in the Olympic Games, and it’s enjoyed with its variants.

Baseball could do it too, and keep these regulations only for the Games and its classificatory tournaments. In the end, statistically most challenges are decided before the eighth inning, although to the eye what’s left are the spectacular plays of the ninth inning, or beyond.

It would be a remarkable change, actually, but less traumatic than the other variants on the table, as to leave the count in two strikes and three balls, or similar proposals.

It’s to be or not to be in the Olympic Games, and I’d rather be, although that’s the price to pay for it.

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Paris and Los Angeles Will Be 2024 and 2028 Olympic Hosts

While hosting the Olympic games are a massive responsibility, the role is one that comes with tremendous honor as well. Which is why residents and city officials in Paris and Los Angeles are both elated by the recent news that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted unanimously to approve a plan awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic Games to the competing cities.

Although the two cities have been determined, there still remains a few outstanding questions. One major uncertainty is which city will host each year. In order to find a verdict, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and the IOC have until September 13 to work out a deal. “We welcome the executive board’s decision to recognize two excellent bids from two of the world’s greatest cities,” said LA Mayor Garcetti prior to the vote, in a statement. “We look forward to working together maybe not in competition but collaboration with Paris. LA is ready to throw these Olympics in two months, if we were asked, or two decades if it came to that. LA is ready because the infrastructure, the love and the vision to make sure it’s something that serves this movement and serves the people of our city."

Of course, inviting the world to your city for the Olympics brings a host of opportunities—both in terms of profits as well as rebuilding infrastructure (not only for aesthetics, but to ensure visitors are safe and can quickly move from one location to the next). According to the Council on Foreign Relations, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, for example, there $2.6 billion in broadcasting revenue from the television right fees. Much like previous hosts, Paris and Los Angelese would have to build new, or update pre-existing infrastructure. Which is preciously what Tokyo is in the midst of doing as they prepare to host the 2020 Olympics. Other cities that were vying for the upcoming games included: Rome, Budapest, and Hamburg.

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World Boxing after Gender Equality

A few days ago, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made public that boxing in the Olympic Games Tokío-2020 will grant 13 medals, just as its two previous editions, but this time only eight for men, and five among women.

After gender equality, boxing joins the rest of summer sports, where the participation of women equals that of men, to eliminate all the differences seen throughout history.

In this regard, the number of women categories will reach five now, although the weights in which they will participate aren’t decided yet, neither those to be eliminated among men.

Personally I support women boxing, but I don’t think the formula to do so is the right one. I find it fairer, and just equitable that instead of reducing the number of categories for men boxers, it decreases the number of boxers by weight.

Therefore allowing all boxers the chance to reach the Olympics. It’s true it’d be more difficult to win a place for the Games, but the opportunity it’s there, while the other way leaves out a large number of good boxers.

IOC’s main concern is to achieve the gender equality without damaging the number of contestants, hence the costs for organizers, but with this second variant which Cuban boxing authorities want to present at the AIBA Congress, and it would improve quality, because in the preliminary rounds many mismatched combats take place.

If this variant does not succeed, which according to experts, women will have two more medals in their goals and men two less. Hence it’s more than necessary to promote the practice of boxing among women worldwide.

What is Cuba doing about it? Well practically nothing, is still being "studied" the participation of women.

On World Records and Doping: Sotomayor and Yipsi have the Floor.

We are witnessing an athletic revolution as a crusade war against doping, especially in the track and field. Some Cuban athletes offer their views on the subject to CubaSi.

On a proposal by the EAA (European Athletics Association), in the voice of its president Norwegian Svein Arne Hansen, it came to light the idea of removing all world records set before 2005. Such initiative has the support of IAAF current president Sebastian Coe.

As soon as the proposal was aired, athletes and federations from all over the world have reacted.

We are talking about doubts in 30 out of the 43 European records…

If such a thing was not enough, 111 new cases have tested positive in the reanalysis carried out to the samples of Beijing 2008 and London 2012, according to the latest data released by the IOC last April 24th.

Regarding this tsunami associated to doping and doubtful records, which is disapproved by many of the current protagonists, the Cuban Olympic Committee took a stand. Cuba has two world record holders before that date, high jumper Javier Sotomayor 2.43m (indoor in 1998) and 2.45m (outdoor in 1993), and javelin thrower Osleidys Menendez (71.54m in 2001 and 71.74m in 2005).

“Scientific arguments should be given to approve a decision of this kind. It will be only fair if we prove it scientifically. Removing records because you have doubts is nonsense. Those world-record holders are not guilty that samples —at that time— could not be preserved to present times to be tested again”.

Even though the intention is to eradicate any suspicions triggered by the magnitude of certain times and marks, as well as the shameful episodes experienced in the sports, nothing would justify this crusade with no arguments.

We back, of course, any step taken with the help of the available scientific upgrade. We also support all the preventive actions, which seem to be not enough amidst ills such as excessive commercialization, talent drain, nationalization for convenience, and other evils that foster the premise of winning at all costs…” the Cuban Olympic Committee subscribed in an official statement.

VOICES FIRST HAND

Javier Sotomayor, world-record holder in high jump and one of the possible athletes affected if the IAAF congress passes the proposal put forth by Europe, commented to CubaSi:

“I believe excessive the proposal of the European Association. With no scientific basis, a series of records cannot be jeopardized. In my personal view, if my record were to be removed from the IAAF books, I would feel world-record holder as before until someone jumps up to the 2.46m.

It certainly generates uncertainty. Some of us feel awkward, questioned with this situation. The goal is to put into question the results of several athletes. So many years of efforts, sacrifices, jumps, and hard training cannot be jettisoned. I am against condemning to oblivion relevant figures who have given prestige to track and field throughout the years. I am not opposed to the right fight against doping. It is a scourge and any action to reverse it is laudable. However, as there is no scientific evidence, it seems something hasty to me”.

Yipsi Moreno, former hammer thrower who was among the elite of her discipline for three Olympic cycles, was one of those sports athletes who benefitted with the gold medal in Beijing 2008, after Belarus Aksana Miankona tested positive in a reanalysis. The truth is that Yipsi is well-involved in Cuban athletics and she agreed to air her opinion in the Barrientos Memorial.

“I do not agree with this project. I believe that records of such magnitude, if not proven fraudulent, we would be depriving those stars of shine and validity. If you set a record and everyone can break it later…where is the exceptional nature of the record, then?”

Can you picture in your mind that what Usain Bolt does can be done by anyone? Much has been said about the possibility he has been under the effects of doping. In fact, if the samples are tested in a period of ten years, and you do not detect it, you can break the history, his image, and stop motivations and aspirations of many.

How did Yipsi coexist with the doping phenomena? What made you exceptional without using any drugs?

Despite consuming those drugs, athletes have their raw talent. There have been cases of drugged athletes who have maintained their levels of mediocrity. I bet to my star, my sacrifice, and raw talent. I am happy to have won some medals and being in the elite of my sports discipline without cheating.

I would penalize those cheaters in sports with sanctions ranging from 4 years to a lifetime ban. The best example is Russian Tatyana Lysenko, twice exposed.

Cuban athletics have always been in a very good position regarding doping. How would Yipsi assess the past and present times?

“It affected you in the past. But it is not the end of the world. Now and then, there is lack of control, discipline. It is true there are drugs harder to find than others. But in the end, this phenomenon of cheating benefits one, two…perhaps many. But cheaters will be always caught”.

THE HURRICANE EYE

A truly Pandora’s Box, the so-called King of sports is the second with more positive alerts reported after weightlifting. 48 athletes have been caught thanks to these reanalysis. Russia is drawing the attention. Banned since 2015 by the IAAF, the doping issue goes beyond that country. We let you analyze and see the proposal that is being discussed these days as well as its possible implications.

In January, the Executive Committee of the European Athletics Association (EAA) named a special team to reanalyze European records. The IAAF joined the project. After four months of work, such group has proposed four criteria of record recognition from now on:

1) The performance is achieved at competitions on a list of approved international events where the highest standards of officiating and technical equipment can be guaranteed,

2) The athlete has been subject to an agreed number of doping control tests in the months leading up to the performance and

3) The doping control sample taken after the record is stored and available for re-testing for 10 years.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

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