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Archives for July 2011

Historic Test is one to savour

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Tom Fordyce | 23:19 UK time, Monday, 25 July 2011

Lord's, London

Sometimes anniversaries can fall a bit flat. The card arrives late in the post, or the present goes down badly, or some hapless clown forgets the date altogether and ends up sleeping in the spare room.

Not at the 2,000th Test match. After four days of delightful ding-dong between the best two teams in the world came a denouement that was as perfect a commemorative gift as five-day cricket could hope to receive: thrills and spills from first delivery to last, a final-session triumph conjured from bowling excellence and an atmosphere that mixed febrile and fiesta to intoxicating effect.

If Test cricket is dead, as some would have you believe, this was a very strange kind of wake.

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Is the anti-doping system as good as it could be?

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Tom Fordyce | 15:03 UK time, Wednesday, 13 July 2011

And so, after five weeks of microscopic time-management, 3am panics about pain-killers and energy drinks, emergency text updates and urinating in front of strange men, my time as the first journalist ever to be allowed inside the UK Anti-Doping whereabouts system is over.

What have I learned? Is the system fair on clean athletes and tough enough to deter cheats? What needs to be done to improve it? Can we really have faith in the great sporting performances that stir our hearts and lift our moods?

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Age proves no hurdle to legendary coach Malcolm Arnold

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Tom Fordyce | 17:49 UK time, Friday, 8 July 2011

Etched on the glass windows which line the 200m indoor track at Bath University's sports village is a three-line quotation: "Winning means you are willing to go longer, work harder and give more than anyone else."

Few have lived up more to that maxim than Malcolm Arnold.

Standing a few feet away, and wearing a red, white and blue Great Britain tracksuit, the white-haired coach watches his latest group of athletes attempt to live up to those exacting standards.

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Whereabouts: What's the inside verdict?

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Tom Fordyce | 11:56 UK time, Thursday, 7 July 2011

A month into my experiment of living under the UK Anti-Doping whereabouts system, I've learned many things - that athletes need to install very loud doorbells, that trips to your Mum's for Sunday lunch can lead to missed tests and that urinating in front of a complete stranger isn't quite as hard as you think it might be.

On Tuesday, I told the tale of it all on a special edition of 5live Sport's London Calling, alongside some key individuals from inside the system - those who run it, those who live it on a daily basis as professional athletes and those who feel it is seriously flawed.

Former Great Britain swimmer Karen Pickering was once a multiple World and Commonwealth medallist. She's now chair of the British Athletes' Commission, the body that represents the interests of elite Olympians in the UK, and has grave concerns about what her members are being asked to do.

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Where Murray goes next

Tom Fordyce | 22:50 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

BBC Sport at Wimbledon

After all the hope and hype, the story stays the same. For the third year on the bounce, Andy Murray has left Wimbledon after being flattened in a semi-final.

His role in the longest-running narrative in British sport - the search for a homegrown male champion - seems secure: the stooge, the plucky loser, the supporting act for whichever glamourpuss foreigner chooses to steal the Centre Court stage this time around.

That he's not the first to play the part does not make it any less cruel. British men have reached 11 Wimbledon semi-finals since 1938 and failed to win a single one between them.

Can the plot change? Is Murray the man to do it?

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UK anti-doping: an athlete's testing reality

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Tom Fordyce | 10:07 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

When I woke up on Thursday morning, groggy from the previous day's 10-hour stint of text commentary on the Roger Federer against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray-Felciano Lopez quarter-finals at Wimbledon, there was a strange man standing in my bedroom.

Even less predictably, I was rather pleased to see him.

Three weeks into my month on the UK anti-doping whereabouts system, and I still hadn't been tested. I'd specified where I would be for an hour a day, seven days a week, for three months in advance, as well as where I'd be training each day, but there had been no knock at the door, nor any UKAD car flagging me down on long bike rides into the Surrey Hills or north Essex countryside.

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