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Saskatchewan Rattlers draft picks await first taste of pro basketball

Growing up in Saskatoon, Alex Dewar didn’t spend much time thinking about playing professional basketball. He just wanted to be part of the top team at his high school.

Then the Saskatchewan Rattlers came to town.

As part of its mission to develop homegrown talent, the Canadian Elite Basketball League recently held its first ever U SPORTS draft. Each of the league’s seven teams was allotted three selections and the Rattlers used one of theirs on Dewar.

While most of the other players taken in the draft have played four or five years of university hoops, the Marion Graham Collegiate grad just wrapped up his second season with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

Despite Dewar’s relative youth, Rattlers general manager Barry Rawlyk, who is also the Huskies’ head coach, believes he is ready for his first taste of pro hoops.

“Alexander is an absolute warrior and a fantastic team player — his determination and hard work ethic will translate well into the professional game,” Rawlyk said in a team release.

This past season with the Huskies, Dewar averaged 16.7 points per game and shot nearly 50 per cent from the floor. While he likely won’t play significant minutes in his rookie season with the Rattlers, instead filling more of a reserve role, he plans to soak up everything he can.

“They have some cream of the crop players there who are very athletic, strong, skilled, so it’s definitely going to be a learning curve and I definitely want to use the experience to develop my game,” Dewar said.

The other members of the Rattler’s 2020 U SPORTS draft class are fifth-year Huskie Chan De Ciman and fellow guard Rashawn Browne, who recently completed his final year of eligibility with the University of Manitoba Bisons.

De Ciman is returning for his second season with the Rattlers but his first as an official draft selection. In 2019, the graduate of Dr. Martin Leboldus High School in Regina was added to the team’s roster as a U SPORTS developmental player before suffering an injury midway through the CEBL season.

As for Browne, it wasn’t until recently that he started to see that going pro was a real possibility.

“Five years ago, if you asked me if I was going to play professional basketball, I probably would have said no, just because I didn’t see myself taking the steps that I did,” Brown said. “But yeah, now that I have it’s a blessing, so I’m very excited to be part of the team.”

While the May 7 tipoff to the CEBL season is still very much up in the air due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the newest Rattlers are doing what they can to be ready in hopes of getting back on the court soon.

When that time comes, they’ll step onto the floor as pros for the first time in their basketball careers.

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Coronavirus: USA Rugby to file for bankruptcy

(REUTERS) – USA Rugby will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to “insurmountable financial constraints” that were accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, the governing body said on Monday (March 30).

The board of directors voted overwhelmingly in flavor of the plan over the weekend and said that with a financial support package from World Rugby, it hopes to “deliver a foundation for future stability.”

Under the reorganisation plan there will be no impact on the men’s and women’s senior national teams, which had previously qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back a year due to the global health crisis.

USA Rugby suspended play indefinitely on March 20 to do its part to slow the spread of the virus, which resulted in significant loss of revenue from spring and summer membership dues, sponsorship drawbacks and other revenue sources, it said.

“This is the most challenging period this organisation has faced and all resolves were never taken lightly in coming to this determination,” USA Rugby chair Barbara O’Brien said in a statement.

“While the current climate is of course much larger than rugby, we remain focused with stakeholders and supporters in the continued effort toward a balanced rugby community where the game can truly grow.”

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Coronavirus Pandemic Hobbles World Antidoping Efforts

Collectors of biological samples can’t do their work in the expanding global lockdown, making it difficult to carry out effective antidoping programs.


By Matthew Futterman

For athletes inclined to cheat with performance-enhancing drugs, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented an extraordinary opportunity: Enforcers for the time being are not going to knock on their doors demanding a urine or blood sample.

Nearly every day in normal times, an antidoping official may be crossing borders, seeking a world-class athlete to submit a sample, while other officials are gathering intelligence, meeting with whistle blowers or working in labs to try to find testing techniques that will put them one step ahead of the cheaters.

These are not normal times.

Much of that work has ground to a halt in countries that have locked down, urging citizens to stay at home and avoid close contact with other people. This has prevented the antidoping authorities from pursuing one of the most effective deterrents — testing athletes when they are not competing and cannot predict the timing of a drug test.

“It’s why we run year-round, out-of-competition testing programs,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency. “Covid-19 has put a serious strain on antidoping. We’d be foolish to think some weren’t out there doing their best to exploit it so they have a better opportunity when this eventually passes.”

Unscrupulous athletes generally take performance-enhancing drugs while training, to test their effectiveness and to get a leg up months before a competition.

On Friday, Tygart said that a hiatus for antidoping regulators could be expected to last several weeks and that the pause could wreak havoc on efforts to control illicit performance enhancement.

Athletes tempted to experiment with performance-enhancing drugs now could have a window of opportunity to do so. Reports from Australia on Monday that two officials from that country’s antidoping agency had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, highlighted the potential complications of resuming testing that is a regular part of an elite athlete’s life.

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Coronavirus: Table tennis shelved until June 30 due to virus

PARIS (AFP) – Table tennis tournaments will be shelved until June 30 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, officials said on Sunday (March 29).

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) also announced rankings will be frozen as of March 20.

“The ITTF has also been working hard to manage the 2020 finances with the executive committee agreeing to reduce their expenses and senior staff offering to take a salary reduction, as the ITTF looks into other areas to save overall costs,” said a statement.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 31,000 people worldwide, prompted the postponement last week of the Tokyo Olympics until 2021.

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Coronavirus leads WNBA to hold virtual draft event this season

Sports betting still happening despite coronavirus canceling all events

The sports betting industry takes a hit as all major sports leagues are on hiatus during coronavirus. FOX Business’ Jeff Flock with more.

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The WNBA draft will be a virtual event this year.

The league announced Thursday that its draft will still be held April 17 as originally scheduled, but without players, fans or media in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“The WNBA draft is a time to celebrate the exceptional athletes whose hard work and dreams are realized with their selections in the draft,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “Safeguarding the health and well-being of our prospects, players, employees, and everyone connected to our game as well as the general public is paramount.”

In this Sept. 29, 2019 photo, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at a news conference before Game 1 of basketball’s WNBA Finals between the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky,)

Logistics of the draft are still being worked out with ESPN although Engelbert confirmed she would announce the picks that night on the league’s broadcast partner’s network. She just isn’t sure where she’ll be doing it from; it could be her house, the league offices or another location.

The New York Liberty have the No. 1 pick and are expected to draft Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, who won the AP women’s college basketball player of the year earlier this week.

“Everything is still the same as it was before as far as the excitement goes of having the No. 1 pick,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a phone interview. “We’re still waiting for directives from the league as far as war room and things like that and how the draft will work.”

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The commissioner, who is beginning her first full season this year after starting the job midway through last year, said that the league will honor Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester at the draft. The teenagers were among the nine people who died in the helicopter accident on Jan. 26, including Kobe Bryant. Engelbert said the league also plans to honor the former NBA star at the draft and during the upcoming season.

The virtual draft is the only certainty Engelbert has about the upcoming season that is scheduled to begin on May 15.

She said the league has discussed a variety of scenarios that are contingent on the pandemic. Two WNBA cities are major hot spots for the virus: New York and Seattle. The Las Vegas casino where the Aces play is shut down as is the Connecticut Sun’s home arena.

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“There are a myriad of logistics involved from the start of training camp to the tip of season,” said Engelbert, who dealt with the financial meltdown in the late 2000s when she was with Deloitte, an accounting organization that works with Fortune 500 companies. “Always the main guiding principle is the health of the players, fans and employees. We are not taking any scenario of the season off the table, including the tip of the season on May 15.”

While it seems unlikely at this time the league will start on May 15 because of the virus, Engelbert did say that the WNBA could begin its season before the NBA or other sports leagues resume.

“A league of our size and scale is smaller than other big leagues,” she said. “We might be able to tip this season off before some other leagues since we only have 12 teams and 144 players.”

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The postponement of the 2020 Olympics also gives the WNBA some flexibility with its schedule, if the season doesn’t start on time. The league was going to go on month-long hiatus starting July 10 to allow players to participate in the Tokyo Games.

“We were already scenario planning around what our season would look like if we played games during our month hiatus,” she said. “We have an advantage here to use that time. We’re already looking at arena availability and how to get broadcasts of our game in that period.”

Engelbert is also exploring a host of other possibilities.

“Every day brings new information, we’re not locking in, taking anything off the table,” the commissioner said. “It’s premature to do that. We’re following the direction of public officials, state, local.”

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Olympics: Canada withdrawal from 2020 Games was unilateral decision, says COC

ATHENS (REUTERS) – Canada’s decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympic Games if they were to be held in 2020 was a unilateral decision based on the health and safety of athletes and with no consultation with the International Olympic Committee, the COC said on Friday (March 27).

The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee had said on Sunday they would not be sending athletes to Tokyo in July if the IOC decided to go ahead with the plans to stage Games this year amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“While we are, and have been, in constant communication with the IOC, our decision last Sunday evening to not send athletes to Tokyo this summer because of Covid-19 concerns was taken solely by the Canadian Olympic Committee without the participation of the IOC,” COC spokesman Photi Sotiropoulos told Reuters in a telephone call.

“The decision was taken in consultation with our athletes’ commission, our Chief Medical Officer and the Canadian sport community.”

“We met with our athletes’ commission… twice before making our decision with the full support of over 100 members of our sport community and the Canadian Olympic Board,” Sotiropoulos added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backed the COC decision, urging other countries to do the same.

Canada is among the bigger national Olympic committees and the country is one of only a handful to have hosted both summer and winter Olympics.

Australia, another Olympic powerhouse, followed suit hours later, piling more pressure on Games organisers and the IOC to postpone the Olympics.

This also prompted some suggestions that the IOC may have planned this in a way to create leverage through the double withdrawal threat, allowing the Olympic body to finally postpone the Games.

“That did not happen. This decision was not part of a plan by the IOC to create leverage for a postponement of Games,” Sotiropoulos said.

“We made this difficult decision independently of the IOC. We were surprised and pleased when Australia took a very similar position within hours of our own.”

The IOC on Tuesday finally postponed the Olympics by a year after also coming under intense pressure from thousands of athletes, whose preparations had been disrupted by the spread of the virus.

The Olympics have never before been delayed, though they were cancelled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the two world wars, and major Cold War boycotts disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984, respectively.

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Motor racing: US Indianapolis 500 postponed to August due to coronavirus

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The Indianapolis 500, one of the world’s biggest single-day sporting events with an estimated crowd topping 350,000, has been postponed until Aug 23 because of the coronavirus pandemic, IndyCar said on Thursday (March 26).

The crown jewel of American open-wheel racing, which is traditionally staged each US Memorial Day weekend at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), was originally scheduled to be run on May 24.

“The reality is today we might still have been able to run as scheduled in May. We hope life is back to normal, or near normal, by then,” Mark Miles, chief executive of the company that runs IndyCar and the IMS, told a conference call.

“After protecting public health, our priority is absolutely about running the 104th Indianapolis 500 mile race in 2020. By rescheduling in late August we fully expect to be outside the window impacted by the Covid-19 virus.”

The decision to postpone what is widely known as the “greatest spectacle in racing” was largely expected and comes after IndyCar had cancelled the first four rounds on its 2020 season as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread.

Roger Penske, who in November took over IndyCar and the IMS, called May his favourite time of year and said he was disappointed to add the Indy 500 to the list of major sporting events hit by the coronavirus.

“The health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority, and we believe that postponing the event is the responsible decision with the conditions and restrictions we are facing,” Penske said.

“We will continue to focus on ways we can enhance the customer experience in the months ahead, and I’m confident we will welcome fans with a transformed facility and a global spectacle when we run the world’s greatest race.”

The season-opener was originally scheduled for March 15 in St Petersburg, Florida, where IndyCar had planned to run the race in front of empty grandstands but cancelled it two days before it was due to be held.

IndyCar did not say when the season will begin but its website shows the next race as May 30 in Detroit.

The organisation said enhanced measures like higher frequency of cleaning, more hand-sanitizing stations and reducing hand-to-hand interactions between staff and customers will be in place when the races resume.

“Running the Indianapolis 500 in August is something I never experienced before but all I can say is it will still be the Indy 500,” four-times Indianapolis 500 winner AJ Foyt, who is now a team owner, said in a statement.

“I never thought we’d see it like this but all of the sports field has been affected, the Olympics, the Kentucky Derby, Le Mans, so we’re not the only ones affected by this – we’re just one of them. I’m just glad that we will be able to race.”

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Boxing: Aiba hopes suspension lifted before Olympics in 2021, says official

MOSCOW (REUTERS) – Amateur boxing’s international governing body (Aiba) should be able to complete its reforms and have its suspension lifted before the Tokyo Games are held in 2021, a Russian boxing official who also holds a position at Aiba said on Wednesday (March 25).

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last year suspended Aiba, the International Boxing Association, over issues surrounding its finances and governance and took over the boxing competition and qualification for the 2020 Olympics.

With the Games being postponed to 2021 because of coronavirus outbreaks worldwide, Aiba could be in a position to retrieve its status before the Olympics, said Umar Kremlev, president of Russia’s Boxing Federation and chairman of Aiba’s market commission.

“I’m sure that by the end of the year or early next year, Aiba and the IOC will find a mutual understanding and will start working together,” he told Reuters.

“Aiba is not what it was. It is already different. It has reformed. There are strong reforms taking place.”

Kremlev said that European Olympic qualifying, organised by the IOC’s Boxing Task Force (BTF) earlier this month in London, should not have taken place at all because of the pandemic.

The tournament was halted in its early stages because of the virus.

“What happened is of course a very bad situation for athletes,” he said.

“They had prepared, went to the competition and then the tournament was stopped. It was ridiculous to even begin this tournament.”

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Tom Brady files 'TB x TB' trademark application after Buccaneers deal

Tom Brady signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL quarterback Tom Brady has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots. FOX Business’ Ashley Webster with more.

Tom Brady may be eyeing the launch of a clothing line to cash in on his move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to a trademark application filed by his agents.

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Yee & Dubin Sports, Brady’s longtime representatives, filed an application to trademark the phrase “TB x TB” on March 20, according to a document published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The trademark was filed on a 1b basis, which signifies an intent to use for commerce.

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The filing states the trademark is sought for use on “Clothing, namely, shirts, t-shirts, pants, shorts, sweatshirts, sweaters, jerseys, sleepwear, athletic tops and bottoms, and headwear.”

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“TB x TB” is a reference to the initials Brady shares with his new franchise. The Buccaneers have used the phrase in recent days to promote Brady’s decision to sign with the team.

Attorney Josh Gerben was first to spot the trademark filing.

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Brady has a long history of leveraging on his on-field success to sell apparel and other goods. His company, TB12, sells lines for fitness gear, workout supplements and other branded items. The firm also operates a chain of fitness centers.

In 2019, Brady's bid to trademark the phrase "Tom Terrific" drew widespread criticism from fans who associate the nickname with New York Mets great Tom Seaver. The application was ultimately rejected.

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Brady signed with the Buccaneers last week after 20 years with the New England Patriots. He agreed to a two-year deal worth $50 million guaranteed, plus an additional $9 million in performance-based incentives.

The six-time Super Bowl champion will have earned more than $285 million in his career. He ranks among the top-earning players in NFL history.

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Coronavirus: Long-term sponsors pledge to stand by Olympics despite one-year delay but challenges remain

TOKYO (REUTERS) – Major corporate sponsors of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are standing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the Games were postponed and experts familiar with the deals said the companies would not likely seek the return of billions of dollars committed to the agreements.

Fourteen global companies including Coca-Cola Co, Procter & Gamble Co and Intel Corp spent US$500 million (S$725 million) this year and have committed close to US$4 billion on multi-year contracts that designate them as top-tier sponsors, according to research firm Global Data.

On Tuesday (March 24), the Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021, a first in the 124-year modern history of the event, due to the coronavirus pandemic which has prompted governments to shut businesses globally.

After the announcement, four major sponsors, Procter & Gamble, Intel, Airbnb and Coca-Cola, reaffirmed their commitment to the Games. Bridgestone Corp will seek “creative solutions” in a delay, it told Reuters ahead of the announcement.

“As the longest standing sponsor of the Olympic Games, we remain committed to working together with the IOC and TOCOG (Tokyo Organising Committee) to create a successful and safe event,” said a Coca-Cola spokesman.

Despite the severe financial toll on the sponsors, the companies generally consider themselves long-term partners of the IOC.

“No doubt, the IOC and Japan are working hand-in-hand with those 14 sponsors,” said Jason Karlov, a partner at law firm Barnes & Thornburg, who has worked on previous IOC sponsor deals. “They keep the Olympic movement functioning and thriving.”

Beyond the Olympics, the pandemic has forced the cancellation of nearly every national and regional sporting event in the coming months. Lawyers involved in those deals said many corporate sponsors, often smaller companies hard hit by the outbreak, are trying to back out and get their money back.

However, even if a company wanted its Olympic sponsorship money returned, it is unlikely the deal with the IOC allows it, according to those lawyers familiar with the deals.

The sponsorship dollars are crucial to the operations of the IOC, which is a non-profit organisation funded primarily by broadcast rights and revenue from top sponsors. The companies generally pay a portion of the total contract upfront when they sign and the remainder is paid in installments over the length of the agreement.

Reuters did not view the sponsorship contracts, but those familiar with the deals said every contract differs and the delay of the Tokyo Games may not necessarily trigger any obligation for the IOC.

Some sponsorship deals might require the IOC to provide “make good” compensation to its sponsors for a postponement of one year or more, lawyers said.

Make goods might include product placements for manufacturers of consumer goods, promotional footage or “meet and greet” events during the Olympics, said Eric Bergner, a lawyer for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in New York.

Even with sweeteners, some companies may find it difficult to remain in long-term pricey contracts as the spread of coronavirus takes a huge toll on the global economy, one senior media executive said. “Nothing is off the table.”

McDonald’s Corp pulled out of its long-term Olympics sponsorship in 2017 when the restaurant chain was overhauling operations and cutting costs.

“I think it is definitely a possibility that some sponsors may seek to terminate their sponsorship entirely, based on overriding hardships,” said James Johnston, a partner at law firm Davis and Gilbert, which represents a current top IOC sponsor.

Michael Lynch, a partner at sports marketing company 3 Emerald Marketing, said the IOC likely will work with sponsors even if it is not required to.

“The IOC has an obligation to respect the integrity and spirit of the agreements, which was delivering a Winter and Summer Games within a four-year period,” said Lynch, who has worked on Olympic sponsorship deals, including 17 years with Visa Inc.

“The last thing the IOC will do is be at odds with the commercial organisations that partner to fund these Games,” he said.

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