Thursday, December 6, 2007

Britain sets up independent anti-doping body for 2012

The British government has announced the formation of an independent body to bolster anti-doping measures in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics.
UK Sport and the Departure of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said on Wednesday that the National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) will be up and running well before the Games.
It will operate outside UK Sport, the goverment agency currently responsible for implementing and managing Britain's anti-doping policy.
The move follows a comprehensive six-month review of the country's anti-doping measures by a working party comprising members of UK Sport and DCMS.
Earlier this year a cross-party committee of British parliamentarians accused the government of being complacent in putting together a robust system to catch drug cheats.
Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe welcomed the recommendations, saying the NADO will mean drug cheats have "no place to hide".
"Establishing a new, independent anti-doping organisation is a natural evolution in the fight against drugs in sport," he said in a statement.
"In the same way drug cheats are constantly finding new ways to beat the system, we have to constantly look at what we do to catch them.
"We have to ensure they have no place to hide and these new powers, implemented by an independent agency, will help us do that. By 2012 drug cheats will never have had it so bad."
The NADO will work more closely with law enforcement agencies to stem the supply of prohibited substances.
It will also take away the onus on national governing bodies to bring doping cases themselves -- a situation that has raised fears of conflicts of interest in the past.
Sue Campbell, chairman of UK Sport, said current anti-doping measures were in danger of being overtaken by the increasingly sophisticated supply and use of performance-enhancing drugs.
"People who are determined to cheat are increasingly sophisticated in the ways in which they go about their business, as are the people that supply and manipulate them, and we need to ensure we adapt our approach accordingly," she said.
"The scale of this type of operation, particularly in terms of the single focus required, simply means that the role of the NADO has outgrown its current position within UK Sport."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The buzz: China says reporters are welcome at its Olympics

China says reporters welcome at its Olympics
China said it welcomes journalists covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, responding to complaints by a media-rights group that the Communist regime has decided to clamp down on reporting in the run-up to the games.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the Paris-based group has launched “consistent attacks on China” and reiterated that Beijing was “willing to provide services and facilitate” coverage.

Budget overruns possible for London Olympics
The London Olympics could go over its $19.1 billion budget. John Armitt, the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, told a British parliamentary committee that the $5.5 billion fund set aside for budget overruns may not be enough.

Armitt said the authority, which is responsible for building the venues and infrastructure for the 2012 Games, was sticking to tight budgets, but he couldn’t promise there would not be overruns.

Dynamo, Revolution to play season opener
The Houston Dynamo will open the 2008 Major League Soccer season at New England on March 29, a rematch of the MLS Cup championship game.

The Saturday game, a rematch of Houston’s 2-1 victory over the Revolution on Nov. 18 at RFK Stadium in Washington, will highlight a “First Kick” weekend that will include all 14 teams, although a match involving the expansion San Jose Earthquakes and New York Red Bulls was still being finalized.

The Wizards will play host to D.C. United on March 29. Other games that day include Toronto at Columbus, Chicago at Real Salt Lake, and David Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy at Colorado.

Masters field taking shape
Despite a change in criteria, it appears the field for next year’s Masters will not top 100 players, which is what the club wants.

With an overhaul of the PGA Tour schedule and format, the Masters revamped its qualifying this year to invite winners of PGA Tour events that get full FedEx Cup points, those who qualified for the Tour Championship at the end of the FedEx Cup season, and those who finished in the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list.

UK government to reveal London 2012 budget plans

The UK government will next week release new details of how the £9.3 billion London 2012 budget is being spent.

The Olympics minister, Tessa Jowell, is expected to use a scheduled Commons appearance on Monday to update parliament for the first time since the revised budget was announced in March.

It is anticipated that Jowell will outline how spending on a number of projects, including the £496 million main stadium, breaks down as well as the level of contingency that has been allocated to each project.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Beijing Olympics take the stage at NAG

If the world gives the stage to China for 16 days, it will get in return five millennia worth of cultural splendor, claimed a photographic exhibition depicting the preparations for the Beijing Olympics 2008.

The weeklong exhibition ‘Beijing Welcomes You’ started on Wednesday at the National Art Gallery (NAG) after which it would head to the Al-Hamra Cultural Complex in Lahore for another week to enable more Pakistanis to experience the charms of contemporary Beijing.

The exhibition revealed how the Chinese capital is preparing for the 2008 Olympics. The eager anticipation of the Chinese people as the games approach has been vividly depicted including photographs of the construction of sports venues.

The deeply rooted 5,000-year old Chinese culture and history have magnificently been captured by photographers who have presented a truly unique Chinese charm through their work.

As many as 400 million young people in China have been exposed to Olympic values, which will have a great impact on the Olympic movement thereby mobilising more future support.

With extensive public education campaigns for a populace of 1.3 billion, the Olympic spirit has been interpreted in a manner consistent with Chinese traditions valuing culture and civility.

“I participate, I contribute and therefore I enjoy” is the public campaign slogan for the Olympics and the pictures displayed at the NAG depicted people belonging to almost every age group and every category participating in the campaign in their own ways.

It also depicted the Chinese folk crafts in which the artists show enthusiasm in creating figures in the image of the Beijing Olympics ‘mascots’ using specially treated flour dough.

The pictures show the commitment of the Chinese government and the public to stage truly unique Olympic games of the highest standard and their determination to present an environmentally sustainable, technologically empowered and culturally enriched Olympiad in a cost-effective and ethical manner.

It also captures the reform and opening up to the outside world that brought about great changes in Beijing and nurtured with a 5,000-year culturally enriched history. The city has taken on a completely new look as it enters the new century.

The exhibition is aimed at providing Pakistani people with an opportunity to learn more about Beijing and that is why it includes pictures of a wide range of aspects of the city, such as everyday life, environment, climate, cultural and scientific activities, historical monuments and tourist attractions.

A few pictures gained a huge public response including the picture of the national stadium due to its massive inter-wired steel structure forming a bird’s nest, the national swimming centre called a water cube, because of its ingenious architectural design, the Great Wall of China and the Imperial Temple once used for sacrificial rites.

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Pakistan Louu Zhaohui and Minister for Culture Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan Jogezai were present at the opening ceremony of the photographic exhibition.

The ambassador urged Pakistan to strengthen cultural ties between the two countries and hoped that such activities would prove to be helpful in achieving this goal.

NWMSU sorority raises money for Special Olympics awareness

NWMSU sorority raises money for Special Olympics awareness
Whether it's handing out pancakes and juice at a breakfast, timing participants in a track meet or simply spending time with members of Special Olympics, one Northwest Missouri State University sorority constantly strives to make a difference in the lives of the mentally handicapped.

A major part of being in a fraternity or sorority is taking part in philanthropic projects.

And for 75 Alpha Sigma Alpha members at Northwest, this is no different.

One of the sorority's main projects is Special Olympics, specifically helping with the group out of St. Joseph, Mo.

The Alpha Sigma Alpha ladies will be running a Special Olympics House of Pancakes (SOHOP) from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9. Each plate is $6 with all you can eat pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee served by Chris Cakes at the Maryville Community Center.

SOHOP event coordinator Julie Gosnell said she hopes to involve more of the community for this event.

"Getting more awareness for the cause is a big deal to us," she said. "We also would like to raise more money for the foundation."

All proceeds directly benefit Special Olympics. Last year the event raised more than $300, but Alpha Sigma Alpha member Meredith Wilmes said she thinks this year will be more successful.

"We tried to pick a time and place that would work for everybody," she said. "We are hoping it might be a good time for people to stop and eat after church on Sunday."

Wilmes said she "very much enjoys" working with the Special Olympics and said that working with the Track and Field event every spring in St. Joseph is an especially exciting experience.

Former president of Alpha Sigma Alpha, Kayla Long, shares in her sentiments.

"If you were to ask any one of our chapter members, they would say that it is our favorite event all year," she said.

Long never had a second thought about joining a sorority and becoming involved in community projects.

"Not being involved wasn't an option for me when I came to college — a sorority was a good way to settle that," Long said.

Alpha members run fundraisers like SOHOP to donate to the Special Olympics Track and Field event in the spring.

"We have done that event for years," Gosnell, said. "It is truly one of our favorite things about being an Alpha. We all love helping people out, and it is such a wonderful thing to see the athletes light up when they participate.

"For us girls to be a part of that is such an unreal feeling. It is like we really are making a difference — and that is why we are here."

As a national philanthropy for Alpha Sigma Alpha chapters across the United States, members donate their time at various fundraising events during the school year to donate to raising awareness for Special Olympics.

Special Olympics provides year-round training and athletic competition for a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with mental disabilities. It gives them the opportunity to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in sharing those experiences with their families, community and fellow Special Olympic athletes.

Special Olympics, which was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was adopted by Alpha Sigma Alpha as a national philanthropic project in 1976, and since that time members have been contributing time and money.

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