Tuesday, July 14, 2009

European news

The Racquetball Blog is marking this day, the 14th of July - the day of liberation in France (ahh, to be drinking champagne on the Champ de Mars today), with some discussion of racquetball in Europe.

The 15th European Championships are less than three weeks away. Nanterre, France, a suburb of Paris just to the west of the City of Lights, is the site for the event. The defending champions are Victor Montserrat of Catalan (Spain) and Marie-Josée Collet of France.

As we reported last year the European Racquetball Federation (ERF) dropped a bombshell when they resigned from the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) at the IRF meetings in Ireland. In a recent letter to IRF President Keith Calkins, Michael Haverty, the ERF's General Secretary indicated that the ERF continues to be concerned about the IRF's performance or lack their of.

Some of the ERF's concerns are the lack of a marketing plan to promote racquetball, as well as the relative inactive website. They feel the IRF website is not updated often enough, and doesn't contain enough information regarding upcoming events.

Further, the ERF would like to see the IRF as the lead umbrella racquetball organization, but that would require the co-operation of the other racquetball organizations, specifically the pros: International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) as well as the World Outdoor Racquetball organization (WOR).

The ERF's primary concern in this regard is compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA's) rules regarding doping in sport. The pro racquetball organizations have indicated that they are not going to enforce WADA rules, which leads the ERF to suggest that players from those organizations should not be allowed to participate in IRF events, such as the World Championships.

We talked to Dave Negrete the IRT's Commissioner today about this, and he indicated that although the IRT doesn't have a doping policy, many IRT players are subject to WADA rules because they play for their countries and doing so brings them under WADA regulations. Negrete's concern about such a policy is not the principle of it, but the practicality of enforcing it, given the costs required for such testing.

Regarding the general idea of co-operation between the IRT and IRF, Negrete is happy to work with the IRF in general, but wonders what the advantage of having the IRT under an IRF umbrella would be. He doesn't see the IRT as being an obstacle to any of the IRF's goals for racquetball, and is happy to sanction tournaments in other countries with minimal requirements - scoring standard (best of 5 games to 11 points) and use of the IRT logo being the primary ones - which would help any players who then come to play in a main IRT event.

We share the ERF's concerns about the IRF, although we're not sure if their proposal - of banning players - to the lack of WADA enforcement on the pro tours is the best solution.

The ERF remains committed to racquetball in Europe, and growing the game there. It has revamped its website, which is looking very nice, and has a presence on Facebook.

We wish them the best with their efforts.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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