Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cloned Horses and the Future of Competition

Imagine the Kentucky Derby circa 2040 ... Affirmed vs. Seattle Slew vs. Secretariat vs. Seabuscuit. No not horses with famous names, but those very horses, recreated through the technology of cloning.

Such a possibility became a bit closer to reality when a court in Texas ruled that the AMerican Quater Horse Association had to recognize cloned horses. The WSJ has the details:
A federal jury in Texas on Tuesday found the American Quarter Horse Association, which runs the world's largest horse-breed registry, is violating federal and state antitrust laws by barring cloned animals from its influential list.

The decision could force the group to admit cloned horses—and lead to similar lawsuits against other animal-breeder organizations that have sought to exclude cloned animals. Whether the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas will require the group to change its rules will be decided at alater hearing that has yet to be scheduled.

A rancher and veterinarian sued the American Quarter Horse Association in 2012, arguing it was a monopoly that was effectively barring cloned horses and other animals not registered with it from participating in the group's competitions and shows. The lawsuit claimed that not being able to register the horses had lowered their value by 70% to 80% and reduced the number of potential buyers.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, Jason Abraham and Gregg Veneklasen, said they are confident the verdict will lead the court to order the association to register their clients' cloned horses and their offspring, about 20 animals in all.

Tom Persechino, a spokesman for the horse association, which is based in Amarillo, Texas, said the group is considering an appeal. "It continues to be our position that when members voluntarily join an association, they should have the right to determine the rules," he said.
The debate over cloned horses brings other possibilities into sight. The 1996 Chicago Bulls vs. the 2012 Miami Heat in the 2102 NBA Clone Wars? 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Numbers Game: Are Corners Really Worthless?

I picked up The Numbers Game, by Chris Anderson and David Sally, while I was in Oxford earlier this summer. I really enjoyed it, and echo the positive reviews that the book has received. That said, I do have a few nits to pick, which I'll do over a series of posts.

Here I'll take on the claim that "corners are next to worthless," a conclusion which I think is vastly overstated. The Numbers Game argument rests on a chain of causality from corner kicks to shots to goals, and a finding that very few corners actually lead to goals.

In a blog post that first presented the analysis which appeared in the book Anderson and Sally explain their logic:
The data show that, on average, about 20.5% of all corners (that's 1 in 5) led to a shot by the team that took the corner within three touches of the ball. . . Of the corners that actually led to shots within three touches, what were the odds that the ball crossed the line? . . . On average, about 11% or 1 in 9 shots created from corners produce goals. Incidentally, that's also right around the average ratio for goals to all shots taken in soccer matches (the Reep ratio). . . The yield from corners ranges from 0 to .07. On average, the data show that a corner is good for (drumroll ....) 0.022 goals. This means that the average EPL team scores 1 goal from a corner about every 10 games. And this helps to explain the lack of a correlation between the number of corners and goal scoring. The infrequency of the goals from corners combined with a lack of dispersion between teams in corners per game lead conspire to make corners mostly, well, useless when it comes to scoring goals.
Let's now put the data on corner kicks into a bit different context.

In the Premier League in 2012/2013 there were 1,008 goals scored from 7,528 total shots.  So 13.4% of shots resulted in a goal scored, or each shot is worth 0.134 goals. This means that in the currency of goals, a shot is worth about 6 times as much as a corner (i.e., 0.134/0.022). Already, you can see that a corner is far from "next to worthless."

Let's now look at corners in the context of the larger category of which it is a part, -- the pass. According to Opta, in 2012/2013 the Premier League had 285,482 total passes. If we follow Anderson and Sally's approach with corners and define the three touches prior to a goal being scored as leading to the goal, then this means that 3,024 of the total passes led to goals (setting aside, for simplicity, unassisted goals).

Thus, in goal currency, each pass is thus worth 0.011 goals (i.e., 3,024/285,482). Put another way, corners are twice as likely to lead to a goal than passes generally. If corners are next to worthless, then passes must be even more worthless.

So how valuable are corners?

Simply looking at aggregate statistics, corners carry about 17% of the value of a shot, expressed in goal currency, but they carry 200% of the value of a pass. A more sophisticated analysis would consider the spread of value in goal currency across teams, and no doubt would find that for some teams, the value of the corner is far greater than the averages shown here.

So are corner kicks useless or next to worthless? Hardly.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Recommendations of the French Senate Inquiry on Doping

The French Senate has release its report into doping in sport. Here is how Reuters reported the release:
The top two in the 1998 Tour de France - Italian Marco Pantani and Germany's Jan Ullrich - were taking the banned blood booster EPO, a French Senate inquiry into sports doping said on Wednesday.

The medical stubs enclosed in the 918-page report, when compared against a separate list of test results, also reveal that American Lance Armstrong tested positive for EPO in 1999.

Just three days after the end of the 100th Tour, an event that was dogged by persistent speculation about doping, the 21-member parliamentary group said a "truth and reconciliation" commission should be created to lift the veil of silence on illegal practices.

The group recommended that the French government finance studies about the extent of doping, its risks and the range of drugs used.

"We cannot properly fight something that we don't understand," parliamentarian Jean-Jacques Lozach, the group's spokesman, told journalists.

"Speaking of doping doesn't harm sport but instead contributes in the medium and long term to restore its greatness. Not speaking about it often means not doing anything."
In a press release responding to the report, the UCI -- the international body which governs cycling -- essentially called the report old news, and suggested that the doping problems of cycling are a thing of the past:
"In recent years, cycling has been totally transformed. It is now possible to race and win clean and there is a new culture within the peloton where riders support and believe in clean cycling. Cycling now has the most sophisticated and effective anti-doping infrastructure in world sport. Today, cycling leads the way in the fight against doping in sport"
These comments are evocative of the kind of statements that UCI has made in the past, most famously with respect to Lance Armstrong.

The fact that the French Senate has seen fit to investigate doping provides another illustration of the public-civil share governance of sport when it comes to doping. The recommendations of the report call for a greater governmental role in the regulation of doping in sport. Aided by my high school French and Google Translate below are the recommendations of the report, mostly in coherent English. Not that in the below the acronym AFLD refers to the French Anti-Doping Agency.

1. Know
  • Establish a "truth and reconciliation" commission under the auspices of the sports movement, making the date on current and past doping practices in sport (Proposal No. 1).
  • Allow and support the implementation of retrospective epidemiological studies to improve the current state of knowledge regarding the use of doping and health risks (Proposal No. 7).
  • Identify in statistics relating to offenses which resulted in conviction cases under any doping (Proposition 8).
  • Conduct regular work of academic research on the traffic of doping products in France, on the model of Donati report and Paoli (Proposal No. 10).
  • To establish federations by a risk analysis of Doping-specific discipline (Proposal No. 36).
2. Prevent
  • Establish an anti-doping charter schools in all sports and physical activities (Proposal No. 3).
  • Include in the strategy of prevention of doping control program for educational purposes (without penalty) for non-licensees (Proposal No. 4).
  • Strengthen the training and education of current and future physicians to the issue of doping in the initial and continuing training (Proposal No. 5).
  • Establish agreements between the AFLD and school sports associations in the second degree (UNSS and UGSEL) on shares of doping prevention (Proposal No. 12).
  • Develop specific awareness campaigns on the risks of taking performance-enhancing drugs in gyms (Proposition 13).
  • Restart the regional commissions prevention and fight against doping led by the corresponding inter-doping (Proposition 14).
  • Refer to the AFLD responsibility AMPD (Proposal No. 15).
  • Provide opportunities to the AFLD to prohibit athletes work with some doctors who participated in doping practices (Proposal No. 2).
  • Restore the monopoly of AMPD in certification before delivery of licenses for sports sanctioned (Proposal No. 16).
  • Streamline map AMPD and ease their implementation framework (Proposition 17).
  • Better information on the existence of the toll in the AMPD and SPF (Proposal No. 18).
  • Refer to the AFLD jurisdiction doping prevention, by loading the regional policy coordination, facilitation of AMPD through its inter-related, and management of toll (Proposition 19).
  • Attach clear regulatory doping prevention medical monitoring, transmitting the results to the department controls the AFLD and allowing the results to feed the biological passport (Proposal No. 20).
  • Establish a validation procedure sports schedules by the Ministry on the basis of risks to the health of athletes (Proposition 21).
  • Set a "right to rest" for players that could be sports, their unions and public authorities (Proposal No. 22) argued before the judge.
  • Transforming the French Agency against Doping Agency in the prevention and fight against doping (Proposition 23).
  • Create a department of prevention of doping in the AFLD, whose orientations are defined by the Scientific Steering Committee (Proposal No. 52).
3. Check
  • Define all competitions held in France as national default, subject to the communication by the International Federation a list of international events it intends to control (Proposal No. 28).
  • Ensure specialization doping samplers approved by reducing their number and increasing their continuing education (Proposal No. 25).
  • Establish, at the AMA, an accreditation process or international accreditation samplers (Proposal No. 26).
  • Support to the AMA limiting the jurisdiction of international federations to only sporting events in the organization of which they are actually involved (Proposition 27).
  • Support to WADA a period during which the NADO does not have jurisdiction autonomous control of an international competition (Proposal No. 28).
  • Support to the AMA to be allowed to control a NADO international competition without approval of the FI or the AMA when the FI does not intend to exercise its jurisdiction (Proposal No. 30).
  • Systematically agreements between the AFLD and international federations to share the monitoring programs on international events (Proposition 31).
  • Increase the proportion of spot checks in total control of the AFLD (Proposition 32).
  • Include in professional team sports, collective location of the team during the season and an individual obligation for all season players (Proposition 33).
  • Specify, in out of competition testing, those made unexpectedly, as defined by the World Anti-Doping Code (Proposal No. 35).
  • Provide priority transmission of the results of passport anti-doping authorities before transmission athletes (Proposition 37).
4. Analyze
  • Expand the scope of commodities in the analyises (Proposal No. 39).
  • Provide a mission of the Inspectorate General of Youth and Sport on how the national laboratory Chatenay-Malabry, as well as the relevance and the manner of its affiliation with a university (Proposal No. 40).
  • Support to WADA removing the distinction between substances and methods prohibited at all times and those are the only competition (Proposal No. 6).
5. Sanction
  • Refer to the AFLD the sanctioning authority in the first instance (Proposal No. 41).
  • Bring to a four-year term of suspension when taking heavy doping (Proposal No. 43).
  • Provide systematic therefore what fines imposed a suspension of two years or more (Proposition 44).
  • Wear EUR 100 000 ceiling of possible fines for sports (Proposal No. 45).
  • Assign the AFLD the product of financial penalties (Proposal No. 46).
  • Establish a mechanism repented to improve the overall effectiveness of the fight against doping (Proposition 57).
  • Allow the AFLD to impose collective punishment against teams that have been more than two individual penalties during a season (Proposal No. 47).
  • Develop sanctions on the basis of elements of non-analytical evidence (Proposal No. 48).
  • Create a sanctions committee, separate from the College, responsible to impose disciplinary sanctions on the basis of educated by the Agency (Proposal No. 49) records.
  • Expand the profile of President of the AFLD in connection with the diversification of functions of the Agency (Proposal No. 50).
  • Transforming the department controls department investigations and control (Proposition 51).
  • Support to WADA removing the power to sanction international federations against international sports (Proposition 42).
6. Penalize
  • Penalize detention products against persons practicing a sport within an institution of sport and physical activity (APS) (Proposal No. 9).
  • Extend the possibility for Customs to resort to "buying shots" for doping (Proposition 11).
  • Encourage the adoption by the European Union harmonization directives in the fight against the trafficking of doping products (Proposal No. 60).
7. Cooperate
  • Provide national coordination in the fight against doping, responsible mainly for analyzing the results of the various regional commissions (Proposition 58).
  • Specify in Article L. 232-20 of the Code of sport information involving any doping are systematically brought to the attention of the OCLAESP and communication of information relating to any doping is formalized by an agreement between everyone involved (Proposal No. 55 ). Is addressed to all records in custody of persons suspected of having committed an offense referred to in Articles L. · Provide that the AFLD 232-9, L. 232-10, L. 232-25 and L. 232-26 of the Sports Code (Proposal No. 56).
  • Suggest to the AMA to recommend members to communicate the point of contact responsible for the criminal prosecution of doping at the national level (Proposition 59).
  • Establish 8 doping corresponding inter within the regional offices available to the AFLD full time (Proposal No. 24).
  • Encourage the AFLD to enter into agreements with the major federations for the organization of exchange of location data (Proposal No. 34).
  • Share data with teams intelligence to conduct a qualitative analysis of the results in the crossing, especially with location data (Proposition 38).
  • Systematically transmit department analyzes the AFLD a sample of doping products or suspected to be when they are seized by customs or other law enforcement (Proposition 54).
  • Expand the base of the "Buffet" tax and affect the recipe ceiling, the AFLD to ensure equal funding subsidy / tax affected.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Costs and Benefits of Doping

Doping, it seems, is everywhere these days -- prominent athletes caught doping n the past few weeks include Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Ryan Braun and a promise of more to come. Here I take a quick look at the costs and benefits of doping from the athlete's perspective.

Consider Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers player implicated in the emerging scandal involving the Biogenisis anti-aging clinic. He has agreed to a 65 game suspension, the rest of the season, which equates to a $3.4 million forfeiture of salary. Big money? To place that into context, consider that Braun is receiving $144.5 million in salary from the Brewers ($133 million still to be paid) -- a salary which may have benefited from past performance improved via breaking the league's drugs policy.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer stated the obvious:
“I still don’t think the punishment fits the crime. MLB hasn’t closed the loophole to create the incentive to cheat. He still has his contract and he’s still financially gaining from this.”

The Brewers will still owe Braun $113 million after this year.

Scherzer said he’d be in favor of Braun’s contract being voided.“You gotta start cutting out contracts,” Scherzer said.
There is no doubt that a lifetime ban and voiding of contracts, even if practically possible given the players union, would rebalance incentives against doping. However, it wouldn't eliminate it.

To understand why, consider what has been called the "Goldman Dilemma."
There’s a well-known survey in sports, known as the Goldman Dilemma. For it, a researcher, Bob Goldman, began asking elite athletes in the 1980s whether they would take a drug that guaranteed them a gold medal but would also kill them within five years. More than half of the athletes said yes. When he repeated the survey biannually for the next decade, the results were always the same. About half of the athletes were quite ready to take the bargain.

Only recently did researchers get around to asking nonathletes the same question. In results published online in February, 2009 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exactly 2 of the 250 people surveyed in Sydney, Australia, said that they would take a drug that would ensure both success and an early death. “We were surprised,” James Connor, Ph.D., a lecturer at the University of New South Wales and one of the study’s authors, said in an e-mail message. “I expected 10-20 percent yes.” His conclusion, unassailable if inexplicable, is that “elite athletes are different from the general population, especially on desire to win.”
With more than 50% of athletes willing to sacrifice most of their adult life in exchange for winning, lifetime bans and severe financial penalties just don't compare.

Detroit's Scherzer is correct that more biting penalties are needed, especially in baseball and other non-WADA sports. However, such penalties will only comprise one part a more effective doping regime.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

FIFA's Alternative Reality

Often, FIFA appears to act according to the norms of behavior which govern some alternative universe.

Yesterday, Sepp Blatter demanded that Brazil do something to sop its citizens from exercizing their democratic right to public expression:
FIFA President Sepp Blatter says Brazil might have been the wrong choice as host of the 2014 World Cup if the tournament is affected by more social protests similar to those at the Confederations Cup.

Blatter told German press agency DPA that "if this happens again, we have to question whether we made the wrong decision awarding the hosting rights."

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets during the warm-up tournament in June, demanding better public services and expressing their anger over the cost to stage the World Cup.

After the Confederations Cup, FIFA spoke with the Brazilian government. Blatter says it's "now aware that next year the World Cup shouldn't be disturbed," adding that he'll discuss the matter with Brazil President Dilma Rousseff in September.
As far as ham-handedness, it is all there -- FIFA's president confusing himself with a head of state, hubristic interference in a sovereign nation's politics and the utter tone-deafness as to how hs comments will be received.

The Brazilian government reacted perfectly predictably:
Brazil’s government underlined the right of its citizens to protest after FIFA President Sepp Blatter said soccer’s governing body may have erred in selecting that country to host next year’s World Cup.

More than a million people took to Brazil’s streets during last month’s Confederations Cup, a test event for the World Cup, to demand better public services and to complain about the government spending almost 30 billion reais ($13.5 billion) on the World Cup...

“The success of the Confederations Cup proves Brazil is the correct choice to host the World Cup,” Brazil’s sports ministry said in an e-mailed statement after Blatter’s comments. “As for the demonstrations, Brazil is a democratic country that guarantees its citizens full freedom of expression.”

Three months ago, Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s top administrator, said “less democracy is sometimes better for hosting a World Cup.”
More and more I am coming to believe that many of FIFA's problems stem from a culture that is so far removed from the real world that its institutional actions reflect the goings on of an alternate universe.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Senator Lindsey Graham Suggest Sochi Olympic Boycott

Politico reports that US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has floated the idea of the US boycotting the 2014 Sochi Olympics as a statement of protest over Russian
Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Wednesday that the United States should weigh boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics over Russia’s conduct around the world, including the country’s handling of NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

“Yes, I would consider it. I know athletes would be heartbroken,” the South Carolina Republican told NBC News’s Kelly O’Donnell in an interview broadcast on “Today.” “I don’t know if putting the Olympics on the table is the right answer, but I do know this: What we’re doing is not working.”

Graham said the move would put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to change his ways.

“I love the Olympics, but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world,” Graham told NBC News. “If they give asylum to a person who I believe has committed treason against the United States, that’s taking it to a new level.”

Graham also pointed to the Olympics in Nazi Germany as an example of when governments need to take a stand.
Hard to see this getting traction, but serves as a reminder that sports and large-scale geopolitics are never far apart.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Proposed Reforms from Transparency International Unimplemented by FIFA

Below you can find the recommendations made by Transparency International in 2011in its report Safe Hands: Building Integrity and Transparency at FIFA which I have identified as having not been adopted by FIFA in its reform process. These of course comprise part of the reform evaluation wich I recent discussed at Play the Game and to which FIFA responded to here.

Overall, I identified 28 statements in the form of recommendations in the Safe Hands report. Of those 28, FIFA failed to even partially implement 23. Those 23 are listed below, to aid in discussion and (ideally) debate. Questions worth thinking about include: Which ones are most important? Which ones are secondary? Which may be off the mark? Comments welcomed either here or via email.

In coming posts I'll do the same with respect to the unimplemented recommendations from the pre-reform commissioned paper of Mark Pieth and those found in the first report of the FIFA IGC.
  • FIFA should set up a committee of insiders and outsiders to review its code of ethics for the organization and its officials (be they elected or appointed, paid or unpaid) and employees.
  • Clear conflict of interest policy with a transparent interests register for leaders (published, for example, on the FIFA website) 
  • Disclosure of income of leading staff members as well as remuneration of members of the Executive Committee and other key bodies
  • Guidelines for giving and receiving gifts at all levels of football governing bodies.
  • Special guidelines for high-risk areas
  • FIFA should establish a help desk to answer questions from anyone to whom the code applies about handling difficult situations (for example, how to deal with a specific invitation, or which gifts might be appropriate in a specific situation), providing anonymity if required.
  • A maximum of two terms for positions including the Executive Committee and the Finance Committee
  • Transparent and competitive elections and appointment processes
  • Presence of non-executive (i.e. external) directors to the Executive Committee, Finance Committee and all major bodies
  • The general secretary and the directors should be appointed for a set time-limit (for example five years with reappointment).
  • We recommend that the multi-stakeholder group assesses the current standards
  • Setting up a remuneration committee to decide on the remuneration packages, including bonuses, pensions, etc. of all senior FIFA officials. It should be guided by clear criteria, which should be decided by a larger decision-making body. Membership should include both internal FIFA and external (independent) representatives, the chair being one of the independent members. A report by the remuneration committee should be published in FIFA’s annual report. (These recommendations parallel good practice in the business world.)
  • Publishing the audit reports from the local as well as from central independent auditors to give an account of the financial control system.
  • Establishing an “Audit from below” i.e. publishing the use of funds in detail per confederation and member federation, so that interested parties can see whether the payments made match the services and/or goods/infrastructure received.
  • [T]here is a need for additional transparency and more detailed public reporting. Public reporting cannot be limited to financial information; it must also disclose the criteria for, and processes behind, decisions made at the top.
  • There should also be formalized and consistent reporting on anti-corruption activities integrated into already established reporting processes (e.g., accounting).
  • FIFA needs clear published guidelines for the initiation and execution of investigations.
  • Whistleblower protection rules and the appointment of an independent ombudsman Each suspicion has to be investigated professionally, by a body independent of the Executive Committee
  • Each suspicion has to be investigated professionally, by a body independent of the Executive Committee
  • Each breach of rules/code of ethics must have consequences. If a list of offences and sanctions is published, no board decisions will be seen as arbitrary.
  • Any breach of criminal law must be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution
  • FIFA, as well as its confederations and national federations using money allocated by FIFA, should report annually on anti-corruption policies and their implementation, as well as on any allegations and the actions taken.
  • The organizing committees for all events under the direct control of FIFA, especially the FIFA World Cup but also FIFA Women’s and Youth tournaments, should be obliged to use Integrity Pacts4 (anticorruption contracts) for any construction projects and to publish reports under the new Sector Supplement Events of the Global Reporting Initiative, which provides guidelines for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Friday, July 5, 2013

FIFA Responds to My Reform Report Card

FIFA has graciously provided a response to my initial evaluation of the FIFA Reform effort which was published at Play the Game last month. Below is the FIFA response in full. I note that FIFA officials are not among those who requested my data spreadsheet which listed the various reforms.

I will respond in greater depth  in subsequent posts. For now, here is FIFA:
FIFA Response of 5 July 2013

Dear Mr Pielke

We have read the article published on the website on 19 June 2013:

We consider that the said article does not reflect the reality of the reform process undertaken by FIFA since June 2011. Equally, it does not properly reflect the positions which have been publicly expressed by the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) on the implementation process of the governance reforms. In addition, it is worth adding that the integrity, competence and expertise of Prof. Mark Pieth and the various other members of the IGC is well documented and publicly available.

In your article, specifications of the large number of recommendations that you claim have been omitted by FIFA’s reform process are missing. Further, may we comment on some of your references: With regards to Alexandra Wrage, FIFA directly and swiftly responded to each of her criticisms, as many of them were inconsistent with the facts. Guido Tognoni, on the other hand, has not assumed any role in the FIFA governance reform process and therefore may not be considered as an official source of reference.

Since its launch by President Joseph S. Blatter at the FIFA Congress in June 2011, the FIFA reform process was undertaken and formalised on a clear, specific and publicly communicated basis and framework. A two-year road map outlining the stages and timelines of the reform process between October 2011 and the FIFA Congress in May 2013 was established. The Independent Governance Committee (IGC) was set up with the support of four Task Forces (Task Force FIFA Ethics Committee; Task Force Transparency and Compliance; Task Force Revision of Statutes; and Task Force Football 2014) with the mandate to propose recommendations in the areas of ethics, compliance and other amendments to the FIFA Statutes.

In light of the above, the recommendations made by the IGC in its first report to the FIFA Executive Committee on 20 March 2012 as well as the additional proposals made by the four Task Forces since the launch of the process in October 2011 are to be considered as reference when commenting on the overall results of this process. Earlier reports issued by Prof. Mark Pieth and Transparency International in 2011 served as input for the analysis made by the IGC and the Task Forces, and essential ideas from these reports were further developed and incorporated in the IGC report.

As documented by FIFA, the IGC proposals have been implemented and have been followed in their great majority. For more details on the IGC recommendations and the reforms implemented by FIFA, please see:

In its second report to the FIFA Executive Committee (from 6 February 2013), the IGC states the following:

“The goal of the first phase of the project was the establishment of independent and professional judicial and financial/compliance oversight bodies respectively, including leadership by independent and internationally renowned experts in their fields.

The IGC made several concrete recommendations in that respect, which have been supported by the Executive Committee and approved by FIFA’s members at the Congress in 2012:
·         The Ethics Committee has been divided into an investigatory and an adjudicatory chamber;
·         Both chambers are now be chaired by independent (in accordance with an new definition of independence) persons, meeting the necessary professional requirements;
·         The Ethics Committee has been given the competences and resources to discharge its purpose. Specifically, the investigatory chamber is able to draw up a budget at its own discretion in order to conduct professional investigations with internal or external resources;
·         The Ethics Committee is empowered to investigate and adjudicate past issues or behavior and the investigatory chamber has the power to open investigations completely independently from any other FIFA bodies or officials;
·         The Code of Ethics has been revised and put into force to reflect these structural and procedural changes and to describe the rules of conduct and expected behavior (e.g. conflicts of interest, gifts and other benefits, bribery and corruption) more clearly;
·         A confidential reporting mechanism in order to systematically manage complaints and allegations of all kinds has been activated at the beginning of February 2013;
·         An Audit & Compliance Committee has been established with the typical supervisory role of an Audit Committee and the additional responsibilities for a Compliance Program as well as for Compensation & Benefits;
·         The Chairman of the Audit & Compliance Committee is independent and meets the necessary professional requirements;
·         The Audit & Compliance Committee has been given the competences and resources to discharge its purpose; it has access to persons and information and can decide on the support of external advice at its own discretion.
The IGC regards it as extremely important that FIFA, as a first step in its governance reform, has decided to create a professional and independent investigation and adjudication function as well as a credible Audit & Compliance Committee. The Chairmen of the Investigatory Chamber and the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee and the Audit & Compliance Committee are the kind of independent and professional chairpersons the IGC has been suggesting.

The revised Code of Ethics and Organization Regulations are important instruments for the effective work of those bodies.”

With reference to the above, you may also want to note that the formal election of all the FIFA judicial bodies as well as the election of the Audit and Compliance Committee took place at the FIFA Congress 2013.

As for the IGC reports, these can be found on the web page of the Basel Institute on Governance:

In addition to the above-mentioned reforms related to the Code of Ethics, Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee, other proposals made by the IGC and the four Task Forces have been implemented by FIFA, including but not limited to:

Enhanced financial controls of the FIFA development programmes via:
·         Establishment of a Development Committee dealing specifically with FIFA’s development programmes;
·         Enhanced control of funds (e.g. audits, requirements);
·         Public disclosure of use of funds (on FIFA’s website;
·         New General Regulations on FIFA Development Programmes.
For more details on the FIFA development programmes, please see:
Female members in the Executive Committee: Election for the first time of a woman to the Executive Committee and co-opting of two women to the Executive Committee.

Hosting of the FIFA World Cup: FIFA Congress to decide on the venue for the final competition of the FIFA World Cup™ based on a shortlist consisting of up to three bids submitted by the FIFA Executive Committee, with the stipulation that FIFA Congress shall not award the hosting rights to more than one FIFA World Cup™ at the same meeting.

Integrity checks: Persons who hold or seek to hold an official FIFA position as President, vice-president, female member or other member of the FIFA Executive Committee, chairman, deputy chairman or member of the Audit and Compliance Committee, or chairman, deputy chairman or member of the judicial bodies shall undergo an integrity check prior to their election or re-election, in accordance with standards established by FIFA. Certain integrity checks will be made at confederation level, however, the FIFA Ethics Committee will have access to the files and can launch investigation if it deems necessary. Furthermore, you may want to note that the confidential reporting mechanism mentioned above can be used for reporting of inappropriate behaviour and infringements of the pertinent regulations of FIFA.

Election of the President: A candidature for the office of FIFA President shall only be valid if supported by a total of at least five member associations and if the candidate has played an active role in association football for two of the last five years before candidacy. The conditions to be observed during a candidature for the office of President shall be stipulated in the Regulations Governing Candidatures for the Office of President. These regulations shall be issued by the Executive Committee.

With regard to the age/terms of office, the FIFA Congress 2013 decided to postpone both items until the FIFA Congress in 2014, so that they can be further analysed and concrete proposals can be submitted.

With regard to independent observers in the FIFA Executive Committee you may want to note that the chairman of the Audit and Compliance may attend all meetings he deems necessary in his entire discretion (please refer to the press conference of Prof. Mark Pieth and the three independent chairmen of the Ethics Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee on FIFA’s YouTube channel:

Considering all the above and regardless of whether the recommendations constitute main recommendations, sub recommendations, higher, medium or lower level recommendations, an objective observation of the reforms implemented can only confirm that the overall result of this process contributes to greater transparency, stronger separation of powers, enhanced ethics and compliance structures and corresponding procedures in line with FIFA’s constant aim to adapt its structures and procedures where relevant and on the basis of the needs of the organisation and the game.  

We hope you find this information useful.

Best regards,

FIFA Communications & Public Affairs

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tracking Power at the Tour

At the Science of Sport Ross Tucker explains how he will be tracking the performance of riders in the Tour de France during the mountain stages.
During the Tour, what I'll do ahead of each mountain stage is graphically show you the expected times, and the expected power outputs.  Then, after the stage, once the data are in, we can compare each climb to the various predictions, and describe again the insights the performances offer.

Again, I can't stress enough that this is not done with judgment of performance in mind.  It's partly because the study of the limits of performance is fascinating, and partly because we can develop informed, insightful opinions on the state of the sport by understanding the power output.  I confess, upfront, and will continue to do so as the race develops, that these are imperfect methods, involving estimates and assumptions.  Where possible, I will provide actual SRM data to validate the models (or reveal their inaccuracies), and hopefully by the time the Tour rolls into Paris in just under 3 weeks, we'll all be better for it.
It is a busy time of year for me, so I will also apologize in advance if I can't keep up with very stage of the race - these long posts obviously draw significant time away from other responsibilities, so no guarantees!  I will however guarantee that I'll share brief thoughts and the insights and analysis of others over at our Twitter and Facebook pages, so do follow us there if you would like more frequent, shorter thoughts during this 100th Tour de France.
The goal here is to establish baselines of performance and to raise flags when performance exceeds that which may be physiologically possible. Tucker explains:
The power output of course produces the time, and so the first point of analysis is to compare times from one year to the next.  If a rider in 2013 produces an ascent of Alp d'Huez that is faster than anything Pantani, Ullrich, Virenque and Armstrong were able to produce given the doping of that era, then it should be pause for concern and some suspicion.
This has been an "unpopular" concept because some people assume it to be the equivalent of guilt based on performance - if you are too fast, you must be doping.  That's not entirely true, though it would be almost patronizing to say that there isn't an element of truth in it.  The reality, as far as I'm concerned, is that in the past, doping exerted such a large effect on performance that it pushed performances beyond what is possible with normal physiology.  . .

In time, advances in training, technology and preparation may slowly erode that advantage, but within a narrow period of a few generations, the effect of the doping seen in cycling in the 90s and early 2000s was so large that I don't believe it possible to match doped performances, and so if or when it happens, some very important questions must be asked.  Certainly, in the last few years, every Grand Tour has experienced a "slowing down", and the times in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta have been, with one or two exceptions, slower than they were prior to the biological passport's introduction.  In 2011, I wrote a piece for the New York Times describing this and since then, the performances have remained slower.  Not proof of a clean sport, by any means, but an encouraging sign.
Care must always be taken to maintain a stance of innocent until proven guilty (and by extension, what constitutes criteria of guilt), however, closer attention to the metrics of quantitative performance can serve as a useful complement in efforts to manage doping in sport.