This week in Sporting With Egon - .
Dwain Chambers Fails Drugs Test
It was announced on the day of writing (Wednesday) that British 100 metre runner Dwain Chambers, amongst the world's best, has tested positive in a drugs test for the steroid tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG. The drug was previously undetectable, but improved drugs testing in the US has led to the re-testing of previous samples, and Chambers' has been found to contain THG. USATF1 are believed to be concerned that a number of American athletes may be using the drug as well. If Chambers' B sample is also found to contain THG he could face a two year ban and a lifetime ban from the British Olympic team.
This development could do two things to athletics- it could cause a huge, huge scandal, with some of the biggest names in sport being outed as drug cheats - think of the reaction in cricket to the positive test of Shane Warne, and the suspensions served by Frank de Boer and Mark Bosnich in football, and upgrade the reaction, and you might get close.
Rio Ferdinand Update
Compared to the THG scandal in athletics, the drugs scandal surrounding Manchester United Centre-Back Rio Ferdinand is nothing. However, Ferdinand and United could both be in big trouble over their lack of co-operation with the FA in the investigation over Ferdinand's failure to take a drugs test - an offence that, incidentally, athletics bodies treat as seriously as a positive test, although football's governing body apparently doesn't.
British Football Update
The top of the English Premier League is sorting itself out - a top three of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, look to be ensconsed for the duration. Below that top three, however, all hell breaks loose, with the likes of Portsmouth, Manchester City, Birmingham and Fulham all starting out excellently and potentially planning a raid on next season's Champions League. The likes of Liverpool and Newcastle really are struggling, although not as much as league whipping-boys Wolves.
Moving down to the first division, the top of the table is looking like it's going to turn into an intriguing battle, with recently relgated West Bromwich Albion, West Ham and Sunderland battling with recently promoted Wigan Athletic and last year's play-off runners-up Sheffield United.
State of play in the Scottish Premier League is that Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic are still in control as always, although Rangers offered the advantage to Celtic when they were held to a draw by Motherwell.
The Scottish Third Division sees my boys2 Cowdenbeath, the Blue Brazil, maintaining their unbeaten away record with a win at Peterhead. Unfortunately, they've lost all four home games at Central Park, leaving them sixth in the ten team division, some way behind top of the league Stirling Albion.
Champions League Football
No real news to report in the Champions League from Tuesday's games other than that both Arsenal and Celtic lost, to Dinamo Kiev and Anderlecht respectively, and that Inter Milan suffered a shock 3-0 defeat away to Lokomotiv Moscow.
Cricket: England in Bangladesh
At the time of writing, two days have been played in England's first ever test match against Bangladesh, in Dhaka. England once played Pakistan in Dhaka, before Bangladeshi independence, but that's beside the point. Only fifteen overs were possible on the first day, and on the second day Bangladesh were all out for 203, promising Durham paceman Steve Harmison taking five wickets for 53. England had reached a century opening stand by the end of day two. There were two test debutants in the English side, Surrey's Rikki Clarke, and Worcestershire's Gareth Batty, playing as a second spinner to support Ashley Giles in very spin-friendly conditions.
Rugby World Cup
Despite my loathing of rugby of both codes, I found myself watching the Rugby Union World Cup last weekend, oohing and aahing as New Zealand destroyed Canada and England triumphed over South Africa. I found it quite entertaining, if utterly incomprehensible. There are also bonus points in groups that I really don't understand. Fortunately, Rugby is explained far better than this elsewhere in the Post, with Union being covered by Red Kite and Intern reporting on the Super League Grand Final.
SEVERAL A/K/A RANDOM's 'sporting blues'
Major League Baseball is at the world series stage, with the Yankees and Marlins slugging out for the title of best team in Baseball. Being a Yankees fan myself, I've been staying up 'til the wee hours watching the games - the live coverage doesn't start til 1 am in England - bloody Eastern Time my arse! Fortunately, my partner in column Several gets to watch US sports while still fully awake. Lets see what he has to say about MLB, NFL and general sport stateside:
The 100th anniversary of the World Series is the big news in American sports the past week, with the Florida Marlins, having beaten the Chicago Cubs in the National League, meeting the Noo Yawk Yankers in the best-of-seven Series for the title. The Yankers have 26 championships to their credit in their 100-plus-year history, by far the best franchise record, while the Marlins only have an eleven-year history in pro baseball, amazingly with one Series title already to their credit, in 1997. At Post time, the series is tied at one game each with deciding games Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Florida was an 80-to-one shot back in April while the Yankers had 5-2 odds on winning it all, so it's the young upstarts facing the grizzled veterans, the mid-level payroll versus the mega-gazillion spending Noo Yawk squad. One interesting note - back in 1903, the winning team took home around $1200 per player, while the 2003 players take home nearly $1000 each, just for meal money, much less their share of the gate and television receipts.
Meanwhile the other 30 Major League teams are in development mode, with the Florida Instructional League, Arizona Fall League and tryouts for the US Olympic squad underway, and at least one team, the beloved Cleveland Indians, have offered $5000/month in living expenses for their youngest ML prospects to work out this winter at their indoor facility at the ballyard under the eyes of the coaching staff and front office.
Gathering their share of the sports headlines were the week seven matchups in the National Football League, where only the Minnesota Vikings are unbeaten, pending the outcome of Monday night's 6-0 Kansas City-at-Oakland contest. The Vikings (6-0) defeated the 5-2 Denver Broncos 28-20 with health a big concern for both squads. Minnesota quarterback Duante Culpepper is finally healthy, throwing for some 277 yards while Denver's Jack Plummer could not play with an injured shoulder and foot. At this point in the season, injuries are taking a major toll on nearly every team.
This weekend's games to watch: Denver at Baltimore (Broncos hoping for a KC loss to stay a game back, Baltimore struggling after a loss to Cincannati); NY Giants at Minnesota (can the Vikes keep it up?); Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Cowboys at 5-1, defending Super Bowl champs slipped to 3-3); and the Buffalo-at-Kansas City matchup late Sunday.
Also on the health front is the news from the US Anti-Doping Agency that they have detected a new designer steriod, and some 40 pro and Olympic athletes have been asked to testify in an investigation of the drug manufacturer.
AND FINALLY... three numbers: $25,000 (the amount each US women's soccer team member earned for finishing third in the recent World Cup); $58,000 (the amount the players would have earned had they won); and $200,000 (the amount each US men's player earned for reaching the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.)
Egon's addendum: the Yankees won game three of the world series by six runs to one to take a 2-1 series lead after Several filed his report.
HAVE YOUR SAY
If you would like to report, opine or rant on matters sporting as I and Several do here, then just drop me a line at my personal space, or comment below. Also comment below if you would like any elaboration or further explanation of any of this week's stories (such as that European Championship analysis, for example). Anyway, farewell for now, and look out for my exciting new column, which I was planning to start this week, but which has been delayed til next week...