F1

Lewis Hamilton must get knighthood – lack of recognition is becoming a farce

Love him or loathe him, there is no getting around the fact Lewis Hamilton deserves to be knighted.

Hamilton might choose to live in the tax haven of Monaco. He might choose to be a hypocrite for urging people to help save the planet while travelling the world in a private jet and he might bring buffoonery on himself at times with some strange behaviour.

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But knighthoods don't reflect the characters of those individuals on the receiving end of one, otherwise how the hell did Jimmy Savile manage to get one?

Knighthoods are supposed to reflect great achievement in that recipient's chosen field – and Hamilton is now arguably the greatest F1 driver of all time having just claimed his sixth world championship.

Jackie Stewart, who won the F1 title three times, was knighted in 2001, yet Hamilton is still made to wait for the ultimate honour to come his way.

Far be it for me to tell Her Majesty what to do, but considering Hamilton is now one of Britain's greatest ever sportsmen, the lack of recognition is becoming an absolute farce.

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The Elephant in the room has finally left the building – and is now in serious danger of trampling all over the reputation of English rugby union.

Last weekend the nation held its breath as our finest players took on South Africa in Japan in a bid to win the World Cup.

Ultimately Eddie Jones's men came up short, but the manner in which they reached the showpiece final made us all immensely proud.

But it has taken less than a week for those feelings of pride to turn to horror and despair, thanks to the illegal actions of domestic champions Saracens.

The Premiership's most successful club have been found to have breached salary cap rules following a long investigation into the business dealings between millionaire owner Nigel Wray and certain players, including World Cup heroes Owen Farrell and Billy and Mako Vunipola.

Saracens have launched an appeal against a punishment of a 35-point deduction and £5.36m fine. But whatever happens, the punishment to the sport itself will be far greater.

To recap. Clubs cannot spend more than £7m on player salaries, although they are allowed two whose wages do not count towards the cap.

But it is claimed the Premiership and European champions avoided the regulations by investing in companies co-owned by Wray and some of his star names.

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The timing of this alleged cheating – there is no other way to describe it – couldn't be worse.

For decades rugby union was considered a bastion of sporting honesty and integrity, one that sneered at the likes of football, athletics and cycling.

But just when the game finds itself in the world's conscience following a brilliant tournament in Japan, it turns out that events at the pinnacle of our domestic game might just prove to be illegal.

The salary cap was introduced in 1999 for two simple reasons. To ensure a level playing field of fairness and competition between all clubs – and to stop some of them overreaching themselves.

It's precisely why little old Exeter, who agonisingly lost June's Premiership final 37-34 to those Sarries all-stars, were forced to let key players like Santiago Cordero and Tom Lawday leave the club a few weeks later because they couldn't afford them. They had to comply with the salary cap.

All the while, Sarries continued to flex their financial muscle. But it turns out the London club were punching their sport's reputation – and all those who follow it – firmly in the face.

Have Sarries won their last two titles fairly? No. But who else has been breaching the cap? We don't know, but what we do know is that the game is now under a huge cloud of suspicion and those who run it have little choice but to conduct a league wide review of all clubs' accounts and business affairs.

We all love sport, but what we don't love is how far some people will go in order to be the best in their chosen one.

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Nicola Adams announced her retirement from boxing this week.

She didn't go on television to do it. She didn't reveal the news on social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter in a vain and self-serving attempt to boost the number of followers she has.

Adams wrote a letter to her local newspaper in Leeds, allowing it to break a good, if not sad story about a hometown hero while also allowing herself to thank a publication that helped launch her glittering career in the first place.

It speaks volumes for how humble Adams has remained down the years, despite all her success inside and outside the ring.

Adams, 37, became the first British female Olympic boxing champion at London 2012, retained her gold in Rio four years later and now retires as reigning WBO world flyweight champion.

Adams was the black trailblazer of her sport who reached the top with a constant smile on her face and modest attitude towards the glitz and glamour fame and fortune generate. This makes her one of our greatest ever athletes.

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  • Owen Farrell

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