Hair stands by decision. Darrell Hair, the umpire embroiled in Sunday’s cricket fiasco, when the Pakistani team refused to take the field after being penalised for ball tampering, has struck back at his critics. In his first interview since the event, Hair stood by his actions saying, “People who know me and the sort of person I am know I would not take action unless I really thought it was necessary”. When asked about the huge amount of negative press, especially in the English media, he responded, “The media criticism has been hot over here … that surprises me. But life goes on … nobody died”. And on being forced to retire from officiating in games where Asian teams are playing (Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh) he said, “If other people have issues they want to use to force me out it will be an interesting battle.”

Eight year ban for champion sprinter. Current Olympic and World 100 metre champion Justin Gatlin received an eight year ban early this morning, virtually ending the 24-year-old’s career. The penalty was handed out by US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after he tested positive for testosterone at the Kansas Relays in April. It was the second time Gatlin had failed a doping test, after using a prescription drug for a medical condition that contained a prohibited stimulant in 2001, which resulted in a one year ban. Gatlin agreed to the ban, avoiding a lifetime suspension in exchange for providing information that may assist the US Anti-Doping Agency in its effort to eradicate drugs from the sport. It is expected that Gatlin will give evidence concerning his former coach, Trevor Graham, who has also coached nine other athletes found guilty of doping.

Melbourne to host Bledisloe Cup. In a coup for Victoria, the Victorian government and the Australian Rugby Union have announced that Melbourne will host two Bledisloe Cup matches between the Wallabies and the All Blacks over the next four years. The games will be held at the MCG, after recent renovations boosted the capacity to 100,000 seats. State Tourism Minister John Pandazoplous said, “It’d be great to see the Bledisloe game beat that record crowd (Australia-Greece soccer game) and show Aussie Rules and the home of cricket that other sports are loved in Melbourne as well.” But while Victorians are smiling, those north of the border are angered at the decision. Former Wallaby Arthur McGill said the decision was “disgraceful…. I think it is ridiculous they have taken it away from the main centre of rugby in this country”.