February 27, 2015

Athletes would be able to participate in non-Olympic advertising at the games under the proposal.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

IOC Proposes Changes to Rule 40

Will allow athletes to promote 'non-Olympic' sponsors

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board proposed on Thursday to modify its Rule 40 provision, which forbids athletes from participating in advertising for their sponsors during the games unless those sponsors are Olympic commercial partners. Under the proposal, the IOC would allow “generic” or “non-Olympic” advertising during the games, according to a release.

As it stands now, the Olympic Charter states, “Except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board, no competitor, coach, trainer, or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture, or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.” Any athletes who use their names or likenesses to promote their own sponsor during the Olympics could be disqualified or have their medals stripped, according to the AP.

The proposal is scheduled to be formally approved by the full IOC in July. Under the rule change, athletes would be able to promote a sponsor not affiliated with the games—as long as the advertisement doesn’t mention the Olympics. “It has to do with advertising around the games, on a social media site, or newspaper, or whatever,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the AP. “So if someone has a contract with a watch manufacturer, that may continue as long as the advert doesn’t relate to the games.”

Many athletes have protested Rule 40 in the past. Some launched a Twitter campaign during the London 2012 games under the hashtag #WeDemandChange2012. “Athletes have wanted this change for a very long time,” Adams added to the AP. “It’s been a very long discussion.”


One of the key suspects in the killing of 10 climbers on Pakistan's Nanga Parbat escaped from prison on Friday morning.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nanga Parbat Murderer Escapes from Prison

Convicted of killing 10 climbers in 2013

Just a few days after Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan territory formed a climbing police force in response to the 2013 murder of 11 foreign climbers, two militants on trial for the crime attempted a jailbreak. One of the men escaped, and prison guards killed the other, according to the AFP.

The Pakistan Tribune reports that four prisoners smashed the main gate of Gilgit’s District Jail at 3 a.m. on Friday. Habib-ur-Rehman, a key suspect in the Nanga Parbat case, escaped along with a man imprisoned for an unrelated crime. Police are searching for the pair.

The massacre on Pakistan’s 26,660-foot Nanga Parbat is unprecedented in mountaineering history. As many as 20 people disguised as paramilitary officers hiked to base camp on the mountain’s Diamir side and shot 11 climbers: two Chinese citizens, one American, three Ukrainians, two Slovaks, one Lithuanian, one Pakistani, and a Sherpa from Nepal. The Sunni Muslim branch Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan later claimed responsibility for the attack as revenge for an American drone strike.

Read mountaineer and author David Roberts’ investigation into the Nanga Parbat murders, which Outside published a month after the incident.


There are still no commercial flights from the United States to Havana, so your trip will involve many connections and some schedule-change risks.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cheapair Offers U.S. Flights to Cuba

Packages tickets to Havana via Mexico

Cheapair.com became the first online search engine to package flights from the U.S. to Cuba. There are still no commercial flights to Havana from the United States, but the site is packaging together separate flights that route you through Mexico.

It’s not a simple procedure. The flights aren’t “connections” like you’d normally buy. You still have to purchase two tickets (and pay fees separately on each) that won’t be connected in any computer system. If there’s a change in schedule, neither Cheapair.com nor any of the airlines involved will see that you’ve actually booked a connecting flight. Also, if you’re checking bags, you’ll have to recheck them in Mexico. Any cancellations or schedule changes have to be dealt with separately for each ticket.

What’s more, even though travel regulations have been relaxed, you still legally have to prove that you’re traveling to Cuba for one of 12 approved reasons. You don’t need a license anymore, but if you aren’t going for one of those reasons, you will need to pick up your Cuba visa during your changeover in Mexico. A pop-up screen on Cheapair.com explains these stipulations before letting you view fights.

So, how much are flights? We did a little poking around and found that that round trips from JFK or LAX to Havana were running between $1,100 and $1,500 in April. Compare that to about $500 to the Bahamas and the point becomes clear: If you want to be one of the first to book a flight to Cuba from the United States, be prepared to pay a premium.


Riders on Astana's development and top-tier squads tested positive for doping in 2014.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

UCI Rules Against Astana Pro Team

Officials request team's license be withdrawn

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling’s main governing body, will request that the Astana Pro Team license be withdrawn, according to a statement published Friday on the organization’s website.

As Outside wrote in December, Astana was left off the initial list of the year’s World Tour teams after riders on both Astana’s development and top-tier squads tested positive for doping. The team’s registration was subsequently ratified by the License Commission, which surprised some experts who suspected the team had pursued lax and inadequate anti-doping policies.

As a condition of granting Astana the license, the UCI commissioned an audit of the team, which was handled by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL). The intention was to determine what role, if any, the team’s leadership played in doping violations by riders Maxim Iglinskiy, Valentin Iglinskiy, and Ilya Davidenok. On Friday, the UCI commented on the findings of the ISSUL audit.

“The ISSUL was asked to assess the team’s internal structures, culture, and management systems to understand whether these are adequate to ensure that the highest ethical standards are upheld,” the statement reads. “After careful review of this extensive report, the UCI strongly believes that it contains compelling grounds to refer the matter to the License Commission … and request the Astana Pro Team license be withdrawn.”

Should the License Commission follow the UCI’s recommendation, it will be impossible for Astana to be considered as a World Tour team. Astana could, however, still receive a UCI Pro Continental license, meaning the team may still be able to compete at many major races, seeking entrance into World Tour competitions through a wildcard system. The prospect of losing a guaranteed spot on the grand tours is particularly harrowing for Astana team member Vincenzo Nibali, who won the 2014 Tour de France, as Outside reported in July.

On Friday morning, Astana’s official response was brief. “We are compelled to respect the decision pending due process from the Independent License Commission,” Astana spokesperson Chris Baldwin told VeloNews.


Nevada had banned Olympic betting in 2001, but it is legal online in many countries, putting Las Vegas at a disadvantage.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nevada Approves Olympic Betting

Gambling regulators amend law

Nevada gambling regulators voted Thursday to allow the state to offer Olympic betting.

The new amendment, which passed unanimously, still permits the Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman to limit bets at his or her discretion, reported USA Today. Betting on the Olympics had been banned since 2001, following a regulation sponsored by John McCain prohibiting gambling on non-college amateur events. Nevada still bet on its own collegiate sports but outlawed doing so on the Olympics.

“With more than two out of every three Americans having watched the London Olympics in 2012, the games in Rio have the potential to make a sizeable impact in August of 2016, like we saw last June with the World Cup,” UK bookmaker William Hill’s CEO Joe Asher said in a statement. “We look forward to continually expanding our Olympic menu in the next 18 months leading up to the games.”

Among the odds posted: The U.S. men’s basketball team is a minus-320 favorite for a gold medal, the United States is favored to win 6.5 more gold medals than China, and Brazil is plus-250 to win the gold in men’s soccer, ESPN reported.

Betting on the Olympics is legal online and in many countries, including Great Britain, Australia, and Ireland, which had put Las Vegas at a disadvantage. “Overall, this just allows us to be a little more competitive with the rest of the world,” Jay Kornegay, vice president of the Westgate SuperBook, told ESPN.