A few days ago, a flurry of news stories reported that Premier League footballer Mamadou Sakho was suing the World Anti-Doping Agency for £13 million ($15.8 million/€14.5 million).
This is what my insidethegames colleague Matthew Smith wrote on the subject.
This is not the time, plainly, to make any sort of comment on the substance of the case.
What I do think is worth underlining is how substantial a sum this is - even at a time when the pound is sinking, not least against the dollar, because of the threat of a no deal Brexit - in the context of WADA’s overall financial picture.
Football is one of a handful of sports, enriched largely as a consequence of pay TV and the digital revolution in media, which have become used to dealing with telephone digits in issues pertaining to their financial affairs.
This is not the case with the majority of sports or sports institutions.
Looking at WADA’s Statement of Activities for the year to 31 December 2018, I note that the agency’s total income was just under $35.4 million (£29.1 million/€31.8 million).
It paid out less than $2.4 million (£2 million/€2.1 million).in research grants over the year.
Aggregate salaries and personnel costs in 2018 for all 117 of its employees reached just over $14 million (£11.5 million/€12.6 million).
The financial statements also indicate that, since 2007, the agency has maintained a "litigation reserve" of $1.5 million (£1.2 million/€1.3 million).
One must presume that WADA, as an organisation for which court proceedings are a fact of life, takes out legal insurance.
When I posed this question, I was told:
"I am not in a position to comment on that case specifically.
"Generally speaking, however, as with all organisations such as ours, it is prudent to be insured against legal challenges that are made.
“This is done to safeguard our stakeholders’ investments in the event of a successful case being brought against us and to enable us to continue with our core activities even if our legal costs are high.
"It also allows us to defend ourselves against unjustified or spurious claims.
"This is not unusual and is considered industry best practice."
If this particular type of insurance works similarly to the more humdrum arrangements most of us are familiar with from day-to-day life, however, you would think that any claim would be likely to result in the subsequent year’s premium being increased.
Future developments will be well worth keeping an eye on.
• On Thursday what is often called the oldest and most intense international rivalry in sport will be renewed, when another men’s Ashes cricket series between England and Australia gets under way in the 2022 Commonwealth Games host city of Birmingham.
Both the rivalry and the diminutive trophy for which the two teams are nominally competing pre-date Pierre de Coubertin’s revived Olympic Games, with the first Test taking place in Melbourne in 1877 and the Ashes urn coming into being in 1882-1883.
Most seem to expect a hard-fought series, with the top-class seam bowling attacks of both teams enjoying the upper hand over the batsmen.
A close contest would be a fitting prelude to next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, which could feature the tightest duel between Australia and Great Britain for pride of place in the medals table since Beijing 2008.
This was when Team GB edged ahead of their Antipodean rivals, by 49 medals to 46, ending a period of Aussie dominance (see table).
Since then, the Lottery-funded British athletes have forged ahead as the Australians have wilted, with the gap widening to a daunting 38 medals at the last Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
TABLE – OLYMPIC MEDALS WON
Australia Great Britain
Year Gold Silver Bronze Total Gold Silver Bronze Total
1996 9 9 23 41 1 8 6 15
2000 16 25 17 58 11 10 7 28
2004 17 16 17 50 9 9 12 30
2008 14 15 17 46 19 13 17 49
2012 8 15 12 35 29 17 19 65
2016 8 11 10 29 27 23 17 67
2020* 13 15 15 43 15 13 15 43
*Forecast as at 18 July 2019 by Gracenote Sports
Now though the performance pendulum may be swinging back again.
A new projection this month by Gracenote Sports, a sports data company, had the two nations neck-and-neck, vying for fifth place in the overall table with 43 medals each.
My own hunch, based on nothing more than gut feelings and a sense that the Brits have become adept at peaking at the right time, is that Team GB’s decline from its impressive Rio 2016 tally will be less severe than this, and that my compatriots will retain the edge in this private contest for at least one more cycle.
It would, though, be an interesting moment for the current sports ministers to strike a bet, following the example set by Hugh Robertson and Kate Lundy in 2012 and Kate Ellis and Gerry Sutcliffe in 2008.
Perhaps a meeting could be arranged during the forthcoming Ashes series.