Monthly Archives:September 2019

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that the International Cycling Union’s Licence Commission was to strip Astana, the team of Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, of their licence following a series of positive anti-doping tests last season.


“No hearing has yet taken place in the Astana case and therefore no decision has been made,” the UCI said in a statement to Reuters.

Astana had until March 20 to submit all documents in their defence to the Commission and are planning to send a team to be heard on Thursday in Switzerland, the source said.

Members of the Kazakh federation, sports directors, riders and the head doctor will travel to the April 2 meeting.

“We’ve been told it would then take about 10 days, so after Paris-Roubaix,” the source said.

The UCI said in February it wanted the sport’s licencing commission to strip Astana of their elite status.

Kazakhstan-based Astana were only granted their World Tour licence for 2015 “under probation”.

But the UCI released a statement on Feb. 27 saying it wanted the license withdrawn after finishing a review of an audit on Astana which was undertaken by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL).

The World Tour license guarantees its holder direct participation in the top races, including the Tour de France, the Paris-Roubaix classic and the Giro d’Italia.

Several Astana riders failed dope tests last season. The UCI agreed to grant the team a license but only on the condition that it underwent an independent audit.

If Astana are stripped of their licence, they would be able to take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

The incident could hardly have happened at a worse position for the Chinese boat, 240 nautical miles (nm) from Cape Horn in southern Chile, one of the most remote places on Earth.


The breakage in the top section of the mast means that the team cannot properly manoeuvre the boat. No members of the nine-strong crew on board were injured.

The team originally announced that they would have to quit the leg but now they are investigating whether they can continue after making repairs in Argentina.

“There’s still a possibility we could limp all the way to Brazil — the leg destination — and that way we’d still earn two points. It may make all the difference in the end. We’ll see,” said a team spokesman.

The boat’s French skipper Charles Caudrelier sent a message to his team, saying he was devastated by the breakage.

The team of Chinese rookies had been joint leaders of the nine-month, offshore marathon race with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing at the halfway stage.

“The mast broke without warning, in about 30 knots of wind,” saif Caudrelier. “We are unable to sail safely on starboard tack, but we are able to make reasonable speed on port tack. We will head towards Ushuaia, Argentina, and assess our options.”

The team was on its way to Itajaí, south-eastern Brazil, from Auckland, New Zealand on the 6,776nm leg when the accident happened.

Volvo Ocean Race organisers said they had alerted maritime safety organisations and were doing everything they could to assist the crew.

It is the second major breakage to hit the seven-strong fleet since the race began on Oct. 11 from Alicante, Spain.

On Nov. 29, during the second leg in the Indian Ocean, Denmark’s Team Vestas Wind badly damaged their boat after it smashed into a reef.

The crew escaped unhurt after wading through waters known to be shark-infested to reach safety.

The Volvo Ocean Race is generally reckoned to be the toughest offshore challenge in sailing. In 2011-12, five of the six-strong fleet suffered major breakages.

In all, the 2014-15 race will cover 38,739nm, visiting 11 ports and every continent. It is due to conclude in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

Richard Branson, the billionaire businessman behind everything from record stores to space travel, wants to help Australia’s women entrepreneurs find their perfect match.


His not-for-profit foundation Virgin Unite is teaming up with Australian entrepreneurial support group Rare Birds to launch a new mentoring program for businesswomen.

The program aims to have 500 women entrepreneurs matched with mentors within the next two years.

Rare Birds founder Jo Burston says the entrepreneurs can seek confidential advice on the good, bad and ugly parts of their business.

“It’s an intrinsic, tacit knowledge transfer between people who are experienced and got the war wounds and the ones that are going into battle,” she told AAP.

Rare Birds was founded in 2014 by Ms Burston, a serial entrepreneur who has set up eight businesses, with the aim of inspiring one million women entrepreneurs around the globe.

She credits mentors with giving her invaluable advice on a range of issues from the importance of knowing balance sheets inside out through to how to stay ahead of rivals.

“When it’s really, really difficult and when I think I’m really stuck or hitting a wall, that’s the person I go to,” she said.

“What we know is when an entrepreneur has a safe place to talk and a safe place to discuss problems and challenges with a person who has previously experienced that, the success rates for the entrepreneur are accelerated.”

Rare Birds Mentoring is open to entrepreneurs with existing business ventures.

Applicants will be asked about their business, where they are in their career, personal details and key challenges.

A high-tech algorithm, similar to those used by dating websites, will analyse the data and match entrepreneurs with a mentor.

The algorithm was developed by Rare Birds in conjunction with Virgin Unite, which uses a similar version to help entrepreneurs through the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.

“This partnership with Rare Birds is a fantastic way to inspire and mentor women and help make a promising business a truly successful one,” Virgin Unite boss Jean Oelwang said.

The program has already received 137 applications from entrepreneurs eager to find their perfect match among a pool of mentors, who include corporate executives through to successful startup businessmen and women.

Mentors and entrepreneurs are matched for a year, with data collected along the way to make sure the relationship is working.

After 12 months, entrepreneurs can opt to continue the relationship or switch to a new mentor if they need advice on a fresh set of challenges.

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Campaigning in Britain’s closest national election in decades will start on Monday after Prime Minister David Cameron meets Queen Elizabeth following parliament’s dissolution, teeing up an unusually fraught battle to govern the $2.


8 trillion economy.

In a ritual steeped in tradition, Cameron will be driven to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the monarch ahead of a May 7 ballot, a formality marking the symbolic end of five years of coalition government between Cameron’s Conservatives and the centre-left Liberal Democrats.

Hours later, Cameron, who says he wants another term in office “to finish the job”, is expected to lead an election rally in rural England, after warning voters they face “a stark choice” between economic competence and chaos.

The opposition Labour Party is due to present its business policies, warning Cameron’s Europe stance poses a “clear and present” danger. Cameron says Labour would hit voters with “a tax bombshell”, a charge it denies.

Although the government formally continues until a new one is formed, convention dictates it take no more major policy decisions, while the 650 members of the lower house of parliament revert to being ordinary members of the public.

Britain excels at such set-piece events. But the consequences of the election – in which polls predict nobody will win an outright majority – could be more disorderly.

Britain’s continued membership of the European Union hangs on the outcome, as does the future of the increasingly frayed balance of power between the United Kingdom and its most assertive constituent part: Scotland.

In a sign of the uncertain times reflecting the fragmentation of the political landscape, the leaders of the two main parties – the Conservatives and Labour – will on Thursday be joined by the leaders of five other parties for a seven-way TV debate

. The issues on the slate: how to tackle the budget deficit, the future of the country’s treasured but troubled National Health Service (NHS), and immigration.

Both the Conservatives and Labour say they want to better manage immigration flows and pump more money into the NHS.

The main difference between them is on the deficit with the Conservatives promising to cut it faster with deeper spending cuts and Labour saying it would do it more steadily and fairly. EU EXIT? Two polls released on the eve of campaigning underscored the election’s volatility.

One gave Labour a four point lead, the other gave the Conservatives exactly the same lead. However, most polls put the two neck-and-neck. None give either enough support to govern alone, meaning that the winner may need to try to rule as a minority government relying on others for backing on an issue-by-issue basis, or go into a formal coalition government with another party. The contest is freighted with irony. Even though the economy has bounced back from its deepest downturn since World war Two to become one of the fastest-growing in the industrialised world, many Britons say they haven’t felt the benefit or that they feel dissatisfied for other reasons.

If Cameron is re-elected, he has promised to deliver an EU membership referendum by the end of 2017, raising the spectre of Britain leaving the world’s largest trading bloc, something the United States had made clear it doesn’t want.

If Britain voted to leave the EU, Scottish nationalists have signalled they’d push for another independence referendum, even though they lost one as recently as last year. Labour opposes an EU membership referendum.

Buffeted by high levels of immigration from eastern Europe after 10 mostly former communist states joined the EU, many voters blame the bloc at a time of belt-tightening because of fiscal austerity for pressure on wages and school and hospital places.

Cameron promised to reduce annual net migration to the “tens of thousands.” Instead, it’s running at around 300,000. That, for now, makes the outcome of any EU referendum too close to call even though many of the country’s big companies want more immigration and for Britain to stay in the EU. The issue has helped fuel the rise of the anti-EU UK Independence Party or UKIP, a party often compared to the U.S. Tea Party. It wants sharply lower immigration and a swift British exit from the EU, a scenario known as “Brexit.” Britain’s winner-takes-all first-past-the-post electoral system means the odds are stacked against UKIP and that it’s unlikely to win more than half a dozen seats. But it has become sufficiently popular, regularly getting double digit support in the polls, to emerge as a potential disruptor that risks splitting the right-wing vote in particular, making it harder for Cameron to win in individual constituencies. SCOTLAND Another major disruptor is Scotland. Nationalists may have lost an independence referendum there last year, but they have bounced back with unexpected vigour.

Polls show they could enjoy an almost clean sweep, dealing a potentially knock-out blow to Labour which has traditionally drawn around one fifth of its lawmakers from Scotland.

Ironically, the nationalists, who could emerge as Britain’s third biggest party, say they’d only do a post-election deal with Labour, the party they’re trying to politically annihilate.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has unsurprisingly ruled out entering a coalition with a party that may be responsible for depriving him of an outright win.

But he hasn’t yet ruled out doing an informal deal with them, even though their ultimate goal remains the break-up of the United Kingdom.

Publicly, both the Conservatives and Labour say such speculation is pointless as they’ll prove the polls wrong and win an outright majority. Privately, they’re less confident.

“It’s tough to call, but I think the Conservatives will just about emerge as the largest party,” a senior Labour lawmaker, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

“But they won’t win an outright majority and their government might not last, meaning that before long we might be faced with a second election.”

Australian airlines must have two crew members in the cockpit at all times, under a deal struck with the industry after the Germanwings plane crash.


The pilot of the plane, which is believed to have been deliberately crashed into the French Alps, was locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot.


Domestic and international airlines will have to comply with the new rule immediately, Transport Minister Warren Truss announced on Monday.

Standard operating procedure will require two members of the operating crew, or authorised people, on the flight deck at all times.

The rule will apply at all times to all regular passenger transport services where the aircraft has seating capacity for 50 passengers and above.

Mr Truss says aviation agencies will work with the industry and airline staff on further improvements, such as the requirements for medical testing, including mental health, of all flight crew members.

“Today’s decision is a sensible, measured response that combines safeguarding the travelling public with the practical capabilities of the aviation sector,” he said.

The Germanwings flight crashed on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board, including Australians Carol Friday, 68, and her son Greig, 29.

Australian pilots are already subject to annual medical reviews, which include a psychiatric assessment.

If at any time there are concerns about the mental health of any pilot or co-pilot they are not placed in command of aircraft.

Qantas said in a statement it would have two approved people in the cockpit at all times in-flight.

When one pilot needs to leave the cockpit for any reason, another authorised person will occupy the jump seat – as distinct from the control seats occupied by the captain and first officer – until they return.

Qantas said it offered regular medical checks, stress management training, confidential counselling and pilot-to-pilot support networks.

Virgin said it would also adhere to the policy.

Australian and International Pilots Association president Nathan Safe told AAP he was not convinced the new policy would have prevented the Germanwings crash.

“But we understand it is important the government acts and treats safety as its most important consideration,” he said.

Greens transport spokeswoman Janet Rice said it was a stopgap measure and the answer lay in providing greater resources for support services and ensuring airlines took a “mature approach” to the mental health of employees.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.