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World Sports: Armstrong confesses to drug taking – USA Today

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World Sports: Armstrong confesses to drug taking – USA Today | The Thaiger
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Lance Armstrong confronts doping charges in interview
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Lance Armstrong could be jailed and cycling could be dropped from the Olympics as a result of the disgraced American athlete’s reported admission that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his racing career.

USA Today and other media said on Monday that Armstrong confessed to the doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey to be aired later this week. The talk show host confirmed the reports on Tuesday in an appearance on the “CBS This Morning” show.

“I’m sitting here now because it’s already been confirmed,” Winfrey, who interviewed the Texan for more than two hours on Monday in a hotel in Austin, Texas, told CBS.

It will not come as a great surprise that Armstrong admitted he cheated his way to the top. The mountain of evidence against him was already overwhelming and the pressure to confess was building.

From the moment it was announced last week that he had agreed to the interview with Winfrey, it was widely expected that the 41-year-old cancer survivor would make some sort of confession but even Winfrey was surprised by what he said.

“He did not come clean in the manner that I expected,” she said, without elaborating on the specifics.

“For myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers.

“I didn’t get all the questions asked, but I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered.”

If a damning confession emerges, Armstrong faces the prospect of jail time, according to at least one lawyer, and the return of millions of dollars in repayments for lying about his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs during his career.

Armstrong already had been banned for life and stripped of his race wins, including seven Tour de France victories, after a US Anti-Doping Agency report last year described him as the ringmaster of the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

But he had always denied the accusations made against him, which involved anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, blood transfusions and other doping.

Andrew Stoltmann, a Chicago attorney, said an admission that he lied and cheated his way to the top could have serious legal implications for Armstrong.

“Having previously testified under oath and denying the doping allegations, Armstrong’s admissions would make perjury or obstruction of justice charges a relatively easy charge for prosecutors,” Stoltmann said.

“His past sponsors, including Nike, Anheuser-Busch and even smaller brands like FRS and Honey Stinger, could potentially sue him for brand damages associated with his admission.”

CBS reported Armstrong was in talks about repaying part of the taxpayer money he earned during his career and might be willing to testify against others involved in illegal doping.

That could open up the possibility of a reduction in his lifetime ban but only if he owned up to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

“Only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath – and tells the anti-doping authorities all he knows about doping activities – can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence,” WADA Director General David Howman said in a statement.

Cloud over cycling
Cycling, one of the showcase sports at the Olympics, also could possibly be kicked out of the Games if the sport’s officials are implicated, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound told Reuters.

“The only way it is going to clean up is if all these people say ‘hey, we’re no longer in the Olympics and that’s where we want to be, so let’s earn our way back into it,'” Pound, a former WADA boss and current International Olympic Committee member, told Reuters.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has already acknowledged it received a US$100,000 donation from Armstrong in 2002 but has denied the money was part of covering up a positive drug test.

The UCI recently set up an independent commission to investigate the case and wants Armstrong to testify under oath.

“The UCI notes the media speculation surrounding the interview and reports that he has finally come clean and admitted doping during his cycling career,” the union said.

“If these reports are true, we would strongly urge Lance Armstrong to testify to the independent commission established to investigate the allegations made against the UCI in the recent USADA reasoned decision.”

Armstrong’s interview with Winfrey will be broadcast over two nights – at 9:30pm EST on Thursday (9:30am Phuket on Friday) and 9pm EST on Friday (9am Phuket on Saturday).

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Economy

70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses are closed, many for good

Caitlin Ashworth

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70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses are closed, many for good | The Thaiger
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Most tourism businesses in Phuket have closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and they probably won’t be up and running again until foreign tourists are let back in Thailand. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew says around 70% of tourism businesses have closed, most of them just temporarily, but some have shut down permanently. But the statistics are not quite that simple, with the east side of the island, largely inhabited by locals with the central business district of Phuket Town and some of the more popular expat towns, doing far better than the tourist magnets of the west coast. The Thaiger estimates that on the west coast the number would exceed 90%.

Before the pandemic, tourism to Phuket brought in 450 billion baht a year with 400 billion baht from foreign visitors while the other 50 billion baht was from domestic tourists. Thailand has been trying to increase domestic tourism to help revive the industry after the pandemic. Phuket’s governor says it helps, but not enough.

“Their visits can help solve some of our economic problems, but they cannot replace the need of foreign tourists.”

66.8% of tourism businesses in Phuket have closed temporarily while 2.8% have closed permanently, according to data by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency. (Again the percentage along the west coast is MUCH higher – just take a drive through Paton, Kat, Karon). Phuket’s governor is trying figure out how to recover the economy. And fast.

“By the end of September, the number of businesses to be closed will increase up to 70% for sure.”

While many businesses are closed, the governor says Phuket is “almost 100% ready to welcome foreign tourists.” The governor says he can’t give an answer to when foreign tourists will arrive in Phuket, but he claims they’ve “prepared every step,” from checking in at the airport to hotel quarantine. They’re just going to install some new temperature check machines at the Phuket International Airport and review the procedures for welcoming the tourists.

“We have to work and prepare carefully to welcome foreign tourists… We have to gradually open our door to welcome small groups of people first, in order to test our system, and then open for bigger groups.”

At the moment, only 3 venues in Phuket have been approved to operate as alternative state quarantine facilities. Anantara Phuket Suites & Villas has 100 rooms available, Anantara Mai Khao Phuket has 36 villas and Trisara resort has 15 villas. All are 5 star venues with a commensurate 5 star cost.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities | The Thaiger
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3 cities in Thailand recently joined UNESCO’s membership of so called “learning cities” which are said to promote “lifelong learning” and sustainable development. Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai and Phuket joined the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities. Altogether, 55 cities from 27 countries, adding up to 230 cities in 64 countries around the world, according to UNESCO.

“These cities are outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda.”

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena says the recent new members have shown that they can make “lifelong learning a reality,” even after enduring the pandemic.

“With unprecedented urgency, the Covid-19-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.”

David says he hopes it will inspire other cities in Thailand to follow.

“I very much hope that we will see many other cities from Thailand joining the network and working on providing lifelong learning opportunities for all to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future.”

The mayor of Chachoengsao, Kolayuth Chaisang, says his goal is to provide “effective education, thoroughly and equally to all citizens.” According to the Bangkok Post, the city is a key urban centre both economically and culturally.

The mayor of Chiang Mai, Tussanai Buranupakorn, says he wants to revitalise the city, while also maintaining the cultural significance. The city has a number of educational institutes, which goes along with UNESCO’s learning city principles.

Phuket is a hub of sustainable creativity, according to the Bangkok Post. The mayor of Phuket, Somjai Suwansupana, says he wants to preserve the city’s “identity, local wisdom assets and the charm of our multiculturalism.”

SOURCES: UNESCO |Bangkok Post

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