11/10/15: WADA throws the hammer at Russia’s 2016 hopes; ESPN doubles down with ATP; NFL responds to Patriotism Play


Good morning. It’s Tuesday November 10, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Just nine months before the start of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, one heavyweight country in now in danger of missing some of its biggest events. A Monday report from the World Anti-Doping Agency accused Russia of widespread, state-supported doping in track and field events. According to the WADA, Moscow testing laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov ordered the "intentional and malicious destruction" of 1,417 doping control samples to deny evidence for the investigation and that government agents had infiltrated Russia’s anti-doping work at the Sochi Olympics. The WADA commission recommended that WADA declare the Russian athletics federation "noncompliant" with the global anti-doping code, and that the IAAF suspend the federation from competition. Meanwhile, the IAAF stated that it would mull sanctions against the country, including a possible suspension for Russian track and field athletes from international competition, including the Summer Olympics.

"The information in WADA’s Independent Commissions Report is alarming,” said IAAF President, Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We need time to properly digest and understand the detailed findings included in the report. However, I have urged the Council to start the process of considering sanctions against ARAF. This step has not been taken lightly. Our athletes, partners and fans have my total assurance that where there are failures in our governance or our anti-doping programs we will fix them. We will do whatever it takes to protect the clean athletes and rebuild trust in our sport. The IAAF will continue to offer the police authorities our full co-operation into their ongoing investigation.”

Meanwhile, the IOC released its own statement on the scandal, noting that it will offer a zero tolerance policy, writing, “this is a deeply shocking report and very saddening for the world of sport… With regard to the Olympic Games, the IOC will continue to take whatever measures needed to safeguard clean athletes, clean sport and good governance. In the most recent Olympic Summit meeting we have decided to make testing independent from sports organizations and have entrusted WADA to come up with proposals.”


An overtime win for the Eagles drove NBC’s SNF to a primetime win with a 14.7/24 overnight rating, marking the channel’s second-best Week 9 rating in 10 years and up 23% over the same week a year ago. Top local markets for Eagles/Cowboys: Dallas 34.5/52; Philly 32.8/49; San Antonio 28.77/44; Albuquerque 24.2/38; and Austin 21.7/38.

ESPN locked in a deal with the ATP to continue coverage of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Canada and Cincinnati each summer starting in 2016. Coverage will see nearly 50 hours of programming and covers the last four days of each tournament including the semifinals and championship, with tournaments that WTA matches from the Western & Southern Open in Ohio. “We are coming off the biggest and best year of tennis ever for ESPN including the spectacular success of our first exclusive US Open, so we are thrilled that these two top events will continue to be key pieces of our summer tennis lineup,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN Senior Vice President, Programming Acquisitions.  “With the four most prominent ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events  Indian Wells, Miami, Canada and Cincinnati; the WTA and ATP year-end championships; and first-to-last ball coverage of the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, we are very proud in our leadership position in tennis and look forward to a strong finish to the season this year.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman noted that a decision on the participation of the NHL and its players in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics could come within the year. Speaking at the PrimeTime Sports Management Conference and Trade Show, Bettman noted that "The question is would the fact that the Winter Olympics in Beijing introduce that country to hockey and give us an opportunity to make a real impression in China, where hockey is really in an embryonic state?" he said. "That’s a discussion we have to have to determine whether or not there is an opportunity to grow the game in China by using the Winter Games with NHL players as a catalyst. That’s the question. I don’t know the answer."

NBC Sports announced that Bode Miller will make his debut as an analyst during its coverage of the “Birds of Prey” World Cup alpine skiing event from Dec. 4-6. Coverage begins on Dec. 4, at 12:30p on NBCSN. NBC Sports alpine skiing host Dan Hicks will call “Birds of Prey” alongside Miller, with Steve Porino serving as course reporter and Todd Brooker handling interviews. “We’re looking forward to Bode bringing his go-for-broke style from the slopes to the booth,” said NBC Sports alpine skiing Coordinating Producer John McGuinness. “In addition to being one of the world’s most exciting and colorful skiers, Bode may be the most knowledgeable skier in the world. His outspoken style combined with his ability to articulate the technical aspects of the sport is a powerful combination that will benefit viewers.”

CBS Sports named its pick for the SEC on CBS “Game of the Week” on Nov. 21, locking in LSU/Ole Miss at 3:30p. Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and reporter Allie LaForce call the contest.

Get your PR on track at the Cynopsis Sports Engagement Summit on Dec. 2 in NY. Hear from industry leaders about how the role in public and media relations has changed and discover best practices to stay ahead of the curve in engaging press and fans alike. Speakers include YES Network’s Eric Handler, Sports Illustrated’s Scott Novak, CSE’s Heather Sautter, UEG’s Erin Weinberg and the Atlanta United’s Elena Cizmaric. Click here to get your tickets now!

Golf Channel is diving into ‘Water Week,’ and is lining up a slate of programming dedicated to golf course water conservation and best practices for courses. Morning Drive tackles the subject throughout the week, featuring industry experts to weigh in on the subject with features on courses on the forefront of battling the issue.

FOX Sports Regional Networks is honoring members of the United States Military on Veterans Day with a slate of vignettes dubbed “Warriors Among Us” that profile servicemen and women overcoming challenges and highlight the positive impact sports has had in their lives. In addition, FOX Sports’ 12-minute short-form feature “A Soldier’s Story,” which profiles the life of ‘Lone Survivor’ hero Major Stephen Reich, will be screened this week at two Connecticut film festivals and the Veterans Film Festival.

AXS TV announced that Paul Maguire will celebrate year 45 of broadcasting on Nov. 14 when he serves as color commentator for the 122nd Monon Bell Classic at 1p. Maguire joins play-by-play commentator Rich Cellini in the broadcasting booth for this NCAA Division III rivalry.

The Washington Capitals and Wizards are reportedly staying on TV via a new deal with CSN Mid-Atlantic. SBJ writes that the teams, via Monumental Sports, have a deal with NBC Sports to make the channel their home through the 2031-32 NHL and NBA seasons. Although not signed, the “handshake agreement” would see Ted Leonsis, owner of both teams, receive a 33% equity stake in CSN Mid-Atlantic.


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The NFL released letters to teams and Congress in response to last week’s “paid patriotism” headlines. In the letter to teams, the league stated that “Apart from the efforts made directly to support and honor our Armed Forces, the NFL and the military also have a long history of partnering together in community outreach efforts. It is crucial that community relations activities not be confused with recruiting and advertising activities for the military, since the resulting public perception could damage both the military and NFL brand, and undercut the effectiveness of our collective community outreach work.” The letter goes on to state that the League and its 32 clubs will ensure that there has been “a careful and appropriate separation of paid advertising from outreach. It remains of vital importance that the NFL and military continue to work together to connect with the American public, and for the NFL and our 32 teams to have opportunities to show our genuine support to our troops and their families.”

George Pyne’s Bruin Sports Capital locked in a deal to acquire Engine Shop, an experiential marketing agency, in its latest maneuver. The agreement marks the latest deal for Bruin Sports Capital following its investment in NFL On Location last April, which launched Bruin’s presence into the global sports and entertainment hospitality industry. “Engine Shop has the essential characteristics we value at Bruin Sports Capital: talent, innovation, and a commitment to excellence,” said George Pyne , Founder and CEO of Bruin Sports Capital. “Our experience building and operating businesses and access to long term capital will help enhance Engine Shop’s ability to accelerate their growth.”


ESPN President John Skipper addressed the closing of Grantland in an interview with Vanity Fair, noting that it was a split decision to pull the plug and that the site could have been saved if key staffers had not followed founder Bill Simmons to HBO. Skipper told the publication that if Sean Fennessey had accepted the role as editor-in-chief following Simmons’ departure, Grantland, would not have been shut down. “We would have kept it going,” Skipper said. “There was no way we would have made that job offer to him if we weren’t going to keep going.”


FOX Sports named Chara-Lynn Aguiar as Vice President of Strategy and Content for FOX Sports National Networks and Chris Healey as Coordinating Producer for Original Programming. Aguiar joins FOX Sports from YouTube, where she worked on the outlet’s entertainment content partnerships. Healey spent the last 10 years working at ESPN.


Thunder/Wizards on NBA TV at 7p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1963: Gordie Howe of the Red Wings scores his 545th career goal, passing Maurice "The Rocket" Richard for the most in NHL history.

In The Know: Which MLB ballpark did Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones visit in Field of Dreams? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: How many feet long is a regulation bowling lane? Answer: 60 feet (will also accept 62 feet 10 3/16 inches). Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; David Stern-BARD Entertainment/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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