Newspaper review: Papers expose 'Premier League doper' and aid spending

With 150 sports stars, including Premier League footballers, in the frame, the Sunday Times says its latest revelations on doping in sport "lay bare for the first time" how much drugs cheating has become endemic in elite British sport.

The paper's Insight investigations team - renowned for its previous scoops on this subject - secretly filmed a British doctor who was told he was advising an up-and-coming athlete. The doctor prescribed the banned substance EPO and, in further chats with undercover reporters, claimed he had treated footballers, cricketers, cyclists, boxers, tennis players and even two professional dancers from Strictly Come Dancing.

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The doctor has since denied any breach of professional duty, saying he only ever treated sports stars for medical reasons. The Sunday Times also states that all of the sportsmen and women that it contacted to check on the doctor's claims had either denied being treated by him or had declined to comment.

The paper itself says it is has decided not to name the sports stars involved until the claims have been "further investigated". It also says that it has no independent evidence that the doctor actually provided any treatment for the footballers he named.


A very live aid issue

In the week that the future looks bleak for steelworkers at the Port Talbot plant, the Mail on Sunday goes to war with the government over the amount of taxpayers' money being spent on foreign aid. The paper's front page says that the £172m that was mistakenly spent above the government's budget would keep the steelworks open for another six months.

Across 10 pages and an editorial, the paper points out examples of where the money goes, including £9m that was spent on reviving the Nigerian leather industry.

Image caption Was it really an aversion to battling against Bob Geldof that defined the government's foreign aid decisions?

In his analysis, political editor Simon Walters says the government's commitment to spend 0.7% of the UK's annual wealth on foreign aid was partly borne out of a desire to shed the Conservative Party's "nasty image" but also partly because Mr Cameron was "terrified" of starting a battle with charity fundraiser Bob Geldof.

It also invites readers to sign its petition calling for the government to scrap its budget commitment on foreign aid. According to the paper, 150,000 people have already signed.

The Sunday Telegraph also leads on foreign aid but, to make its very similar point, highlights the specific case of Tanzania, the African state that received support worth £200m from the UK last year. The country went on to stage such a heavily criticised election that the main opposition refused to take part. The US's exasperation at that situation prompted it to cancel all its aid payouts (valued at £331m) and the paper's editorial calls for the UK to do likewise, or risk betraying "the honest principles that should guide Britain's foreign mission".

Another waste of taxpayers' money - at least according to the Daily Star Sunday's front page - is the £22m that has been spent over the past five years on legal aid payments that help provide defence lawyers for suspects facing terrorism-related charges.

The Sun on Sunday agrees with the notion, saying in an editorial that every month "brings news that makes you wonder if the terrorists are laughing at us".


They said what?

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Sunday's newspapers contain the usual range of interviewees with something unexpected to say:

"To keep old age at bay, eat purple. Increase your intake of naturally purple foods. I keep blueberries in the fridge and snack on them like sweets" - The eternally young 71-year-old Angela Rippon, presenter of new BBC show How To Stay Young (Sunday Telegraph)

"Usually I get to film in Bermondsey and Luton" - Actress Keeley Hawes, star of new ITV drama The Durrells, filmed on location in Corfu (Sunday Express)

"You can leave as long a pause as you like, but I won't answer it, haha! The journalist's pause, been working for years." - Comedian Rob Brydon shows he is wise to an interviewer's trick and dodges questions about his family life (Observer)

"I forgot the words to Memory while singing for the Queen. I made up a verse and then came back to the chorus. I panicked like mad. Lloyd Webber [the composer] said I'd improved it. " - Singer - and improviser - Aled Jones (Sunday Express)

"I had two conversations with [David Cameron]. The first one was while I was making up my mind and that was a perfectly congenial conversation. The second one was after I told him I had made up my mind and that was a bit more difficult." - Former Conservative leader Michael Howard tells of his decision to back a British exit from the EU (Sunday Telegraph)


Steel yourselves

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How can the UK save its British steel industry, in the wake of Tata's announcement that it wants to sell its UK business?

The Sunday Telegraph reports that the government intends to encourage councils and other public sector bodies to "buy British" whenever steel is needed on any building project.

But the Daily Star Sunday pricks that balloon of hope by pointing out that it has already been agreed that new British tanks and warships will be built out of steel imported from South Korea and Sweden respectively.

And Sunday Express cartoonist Scott Clissold's latest work suggests that he isn't hopeful either. It shows a heavy steel bar crashing down on the heads of David Cameron, George Osborne and Sajid Javid.

However, the Observer provides some alternative hope with a report that a "potential saviour" for the threatened Port Talbot plant has emerged in Germany.

That can't come too soon for the south Wales town, as the paper's business writer Karl West discovers when he visits. His literary portrait of the town describes a derelict cinema as a "boarded-up patchwork of neglect and decay" as symptomatic of a place where "the slow decay of the town has mirrored the slow death of its main industry".


Even better than a good knight

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Three days on from the death of Ronnie Corbett, many of the writers on the Sunday titles take their first opportunity to pay tribute to the small man who became a giant of comedy.

As the Sunday Telegraph points out, Corbett had no regrets about being so small. "His height had been the making of him, and he would make jokes about it as long as people thought it was funny. Fortunately for him, they never stopped thinking it hilarious."

In the Sunday Express, Roger Lewis writes a warm-hearted appreciation of the comedian's many talents, pointing out qualities that some may have overlooked: "He was never muffled or sloppy. He had in his performing style a distinct, almost military crispness and certainty." Lewis reveals his own personal wish would have been to see Corbett co-star in a film or TV show with Danny De Vito, "his American twin".

Many of the papers muse on why Corbett never became Sir Ronnie. The Times points out that he was only appointed a CBE in 2012 and the convention is that there is usually a gap of five years before any elevation to a knighthood.

The Mail on Sunday reports that comedian David Walliams, who had worked with Corbett, had recently been lobbying Downing Street to give the veteran star the honour. But the paper says that Corbett himself had been a little reluctant, feeling he would be a "bit of a fraud" if he was given an honour that was never accorded to his comedy partner Ronnie Barker.

Observer columnist Barbara Ellen has perhaps the most apposite comment. She says that hopefully Corbett's family have already noted that "sometimes having a knighthood is less of an honour than the fact that the majority of people believe the overlooked individual deserved one".