HEARD AT HALFTIME: Federations banning Russians en masse; Russian oligarch Usmanov steps down at FIE; Federal funds now supporting Oregon22

The U.S. government will contribute $9.15 million to the staging of the Oregon22 World Championships

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Plus: USOPC: Calls for Russian athlete ban = Recruiting Int’l Relations V.P. = Will work with NCAA on gymnastics pilot program = Athletics: Shot star Adams retires = Speed Skating: ISU dealing with Canadian entry regs = Weightlifting: IWF asks for Electoral Congress host! = Wrestling: Dlagnev to get London bronze this Sunday ●

News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport:


The hammer continued to come down on Russian sport on Tuesday, as the country’s invasion of Ukraine continued:

● World Athletics announced:

“All athletes, support personnel and officials from Russia and Belarus will be excluded from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future, with immediate effect.

“Upcoming events include the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22, and the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22, which begin on Friday in Oman (4 March).

“The Council also agreed to consider further measures, including the suspension of the Belarus Federation, at its scheduled Council meeting next week (9-10 March).”

Russians competing as “Authorized Neutral Athletes” are excluded from the championship events, but not from the Wanda Diamond League or other events not directly controlled by World Athletics.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (GBR) noted:

“Anyone who knows me will understand that imposing sanctions on athletes because of the actions of their government goes against the grain. I have railed against the practice of politicians targeting athletes and sport to make political points when other sectors continue about their business. This is different as governments, business and other international organisations have imposed sanctions and measures against Russia across all sectors. Sport has to step up and join these efforts to end this war and restore peace. We cannot and should not sit this one out.”

● The largest winter-sport federation, the Federation Internationale de Ski, also banned Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials. It had previously canceled all remaining FIS events in the two countries.

● The International Skating Union (ISU) announced that “no Skaters belonging to the ISU Members in Russia (Russian Skating Union and the Figure Skating Federation of Russia) and Belarus (Skating Union of Belarus) shall be invited or allowed to participate in International ice skating Competitions including ISU Championships and other ISU Events. The same applies to Officials listed in the respective ISU Communications and/or Regulations under Russia and Belarus.”

This significantly applies, of course, to the 2022 World Figure Skating Championships, scheduled for later this month in France.

● The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) announced:

“In line with the International Olympic Committee Executive Board resolution and its reasons, FIBA has announced today that Russian teams and officials will not be allowed to participate in FIBA Basketball and 3×3 Basketball competitions until further notice.”

● The International Boxing Association called a Board meeting for later this week to discuss the IOC’s request for a ban. The federation President, Umar Kremlev, is Russian and has created close ties between boxing and the Russian energy giant, Gazprom.

● The International Canoe Federation’s statement:

“Athletes from Russia and Belarus will be suspended from competing at any International Canoe Federation events until further notice because of hostilities in Ukraine, it was announced today.

“In addition to athletes, the executive committee of the ICF also voted unanimously to suspend all officials from Russia and Belarus from officiating at any event sanctioned by the governing body, and from attending or taking part in any ICF meetings, committees and forums, until further notice.”

● The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI):

“[T]he FEI Executive Board called on the FEI Secretary General to remove all international equestrian events in Russia and Belarus in the 2022 FEI Calendar in accordance with Articles 112.3 of the FEI General Regulations and 28.2 vi of the FEI Statutes.

“In addition to removing all the Events from Russia and Belarus, the FEI Executive Board also unanimously agreed to freeze all FEI Solidarity and development activities and to cancel or relocate, where possible, FEI Courses for Officials scheduled to be held in Russia and Belarus in 2022.”

● At the Federation Internationale de Escrime (FIE), the FIE Executive Committee confirmed that the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee, to remove competitors from Russia and Belarus, were implemented with immediate effect in FIE competitions.”

The FIE President is Russian Alisher Usmanov, a billionaire reported to be allied with the Putin regime. He posted a personal notice on the FIE site:

“On 28 February 2022 I became the target of restrictive measures imposed by the European Union. I believe that such decision is unfair, and the reasons employed to justify the sanctions are a set of false and defamatory allegations damaging my honor, dignity and business reputation. I will use all legal means to protect my honor and reputation.

“I hereby suspend the exercise of my duties as President of the International Fencing Federation effective immediately until justice is restored.”

● The International Hockey Federation (FIH) excluded Russia and Belarus from the Women’s Junior World Cup in April in South Africa.

● The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) issued a statement, falling in line with the IOC recommendations, “to not allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in UIPM-sanctioned international competitions.”

● World Sailing also joined with the IOC’s recommendations.

● The International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF), whose President is Russian Vladimir Lisin, stated todayFollowing the respective decision of the IOC Executive Board and a meeting with the IOC President, the ISSF decided that athletes from the Russian Federation and Belarus will not be allowed to take part in ISSF Championships.”

● FINA, the worldwide aquatics federation, withdrew the “FINA Order awarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014.” The federation has banned Russian and Belarusian athletes and canceled the World Junior Swimming Championships slated for Kazan in the summer.

Also, “Until further notice, no athlete or Aquatics official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus. Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams.”

British Swimming announced it would not compete in either the 2022 World 25 m Championships or the 2024 European Championships, both slated to be held in Kazan.

● The International Tennis Federation (ITF) “announced the immediate suspension of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) and Belarus Tennis Federation (BTF) from ITF membership and from participation in ITF international team competition until further notice.”

Individual players from Russia and Belarus “are not banned from competing as individuals on the Tours.”

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) noted that “players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete in international tennis events on Tour and at the Grand Slams. However, they will not compete under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus until further notice.”

On Monday, Russian Daniil Medvedev was confirmed as the top-ranked player in the world, the third Russian to achieve the no. 1 ranking.

● World Triathlon banned Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials. It does not hold any events in either country.

● In volleyball, “The FIVB Board of Administration has come to the conclusion that it would be impossible to prepare and stage the World Championships in Russia due to the war in Ukraine. It has accordingly decided to remove from Russia the organisation of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship scheduled to be held in August and September 2022.”

An alternate site will be sought. In addition, the FIVB banned all Russian athletes, teams, coaches and officials from FIVB continental and international competitions.

The worldwide sporting goods brand adidas announced it was suspending its sponsorship of the Russian Football Union with immediate effect.


● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● A Tuesday statement on Twitter called for “a complete ban on international sport participation, effective immediately and inclusive of the Paralympic Winter Games 2022, for Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials … this is the only acceptable action to be taken until peace is restored.”

Want to “Lead the creation, implementation, and measurement of a comprehensive International Relations strategy to support the USOPC’s international interests and to establish/maintain global leadership within the Olympic and Paralympic Movement”?

The USOPC opened recruitment for a Vice President, International Relations on Monday, and even with the world in turmoil, the federation will have no trouble with candidates: more than 100 applied within the first 12 hours!

The salary is listed at $147,437 to $182,245 per year, with a bonus of up to 25% available through the Annual Incentive Award Program.

Interestingly, this is a “home-based role,” so no need to be in Colorado Springs, but the announcement does ask for “10 years of experience in Olympic/Paralympic-related organizations” and “experience in international relations, government relations, and diplomacy.”

It’s an interesting role in view of the USOPC’s situation as the most successful National Olympic Committee in the summer Games and with Los Angeles 2028 coming up fast and Salt Lake City ready to go for the 2030 Winter Games if selected.

Nonetheless, the world’s politics are shifting rapidly, with China ascendant, Russia at war with Ukraine and many countries not sure how they see the U.S. in this time of turmoil. Played well, the USOPC could be an invaluable partner for other NOCs and for the U.S.’s profile around the world. Finding the right person to do that will be a challenge, but the potential rewards are great.

The USOPC announced an agreement with the NCAA for new, pilot programs for increased cooperation between the organizations.

The most important initiative is a “sport management pilot” program to increase sport efficiencies, test championship-related partnerships and elevate the student-athlete experience. The pilot will launch by engaging the gymnastics community, including NCAA committee members, school leaders sponsoring the sport, coaches, athletes and national governing body staff.”

The sports targeted for this program start with gymnastics, but also field hockey, men’s volleyball and track & field. The goal:

“[T]he cooperation agreement is intended to keep Olympic and Paralympic sport programs strong at the college level, with the understanding that collaboration should be explored and tested before reductions are considered or implemented. Partnerships and alignment across the collegiate and Olympic and Paralympic landscapes are vital to creating operational efficiencies, leveraging untapped revenues and building a unified sport pathway.”

Joint promotional efforts to underscore collegiate sport as an Olympic pathway and introducing para-sport programs are also part of the agreement.

● Athletics ● A U.S. Economic Development Administration grant of $9.15 million is now scheduled to go to the Oregon22 organizing committee to help fund the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene.

Jaime Eder, a communications specialist for Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism authority, told KEZI 9 Television:

“Travel Oregon has entered into funding agreements with Oregon22, LLC totaling $20 million. Additionally, Governor [Kate] Brown designated Travel Oregon to lead the application for the EDA State Tourism grant. At the direction of the governor’s office, Travel Oregon applied to the EDA on Sept. 23 to allocate Oregon’s State Tourism Grant fund of $9.15 million toward promotional efforts and broadcast opportunities leading up to and during the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.”

The application grounded the request in the cost of the pandemic to the state’s hospitality sector:

“By leveraging Oregon22, Travel Oregon’s marketing and promotion programming will
increase visitor demand and travel to mitigate Oregon’s loss in revenue and jobs due to

Eder further explained that Travel Oregon proposed to use the grant “to provide high-quality Oregon video footage and still imagery (with accompanying narrative) to more than 180 broadcast partners worldwide, and to provide funding for broadcast services for the event.”

The funding narrative justified the ask, noting the estimated reach of the Worlds:

“The Championships will be broadcast live in all of Travel Oregon’s key international markets, including Japan, China, Europe and Australia. It will also be the centerpiece of NBC sport coverage here in the United States, with two hours live, prime time coverage every evening for ten days.”

The money comes from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in 2021, which allocated roughly $3 billion to the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which is spending about a quarter of that amount on tourism and recreation program promotions.

The Oregonian reported that this grant – not yet issued – will complete the nearly $40 million funding promised by Brown: a direct grant of $20 million from Travel Oregon, this $9.15 million grant (once paid) and another $10 million from the Oregon Lottery.

The budget for the event as estimated in 2017 – when it was scheduled to be held in 2021, prior to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games – was $85.59 million, with television production estimated at $14.2 million.

“I took some time to really process this thought and to see if this was something I actually wanted to do again. My heart, mind and body simply answered the question for me, so it is time for me to call it a day.”

New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, one of the greats of the women’s shot, announced her retirement on Tuesday. Now 37, she won Olympic golds in 2008 and 2012, a silver in 2016 and a bronze in Tokyo in 2021. She won World Championships golds in 2007-09-11-13 and four World Indoor titles.

She retired with a best of 21.24 m (69-8 1/4) from 2011; that’s “only” no. 22 all-time, but is the no. 2 performance of this century (in fact, since 1988), behind only the 21.46 m (70-5) by Larisa Peleshenko (RUS) from 2000.

Is Adams actually the best women’s non-doper putter ever?

In an unrelated event, Bulgaria’s Ivanka Hristova, the 1976 Olympic shot champion and 1972 bronze medalist, passed away on 24 February at age 81. She set two world shot records in 1976 at on consecutive days at 21.87 m (71-9) and 21.89 m (71-10) and still ranks fifth on the all-time list.

● Figure Skating ● Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, 27, will skip the World Championships in France this month due to recurring issues from the right ankle sprain he suffered during the Beijing Winter Games in February.

He said he is unsure about his future in the sport.

● Speed Skating ● In addition to the issues with Russia, the International Skating Union has been monitoring the entry restrictions into Canada for the World Short Track Championships in Montreal from 18-20 March and the World Synchronized Skating Championships in Hamilton from 7-9 April:

“Since the beginning of 2022, the Canadian Government has imposed a requirement that only foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated with a World Health Organization approved vaccine are permitted to enter Canada without a 14-day quarantine.”

The ISU notes the “unsatisfactory situation” and “the ISU Council was prepared to consider re-allocation of the above-mentioned Championships to other ISU Members. However, due to the Ukrainian situation and related serious uncertainties, such relocation on short notice has become extremely complex and difficult.”

So, the ISU decided to apply “exceptional solutions” and will allow the events to go forward and will financially support teams “who do not fulfil the Canadian entry/vaccination requirements and who are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine and “ISU Members for additional expenses arising from either the pandemic and/or additional security requirements.”

The World Junior Figure Skating Championships cannot be held in Sofia (BUL) and might be relocated.

Nothing is easy.

● Weightlifting ● The tone-deaf International Weightlifting Federation has said nothing about the IOC recommendations concerning Russian and Belarusian athletes, but did post a notice that it is seeking a host for June’s IWF Electoral Congress, the results of which may very well decide the sport’s Olympic future.

Given the strong candidature of American Ursula Papandrea for the federation presidency, perhaps the USOPC and USA Weightlifting could step forward as host as a sign of support for Papandrea?

It might be the first assignment for the USOPC’s new Vice President of International Relations!

● Wrestling ● U.S. Freestyle heavyweight Tervel Dlagnev lost his bronze-medal match at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and finished fifth.

But thanks to the IOC’s extensive re-testing program, both the gold and silver-medal winners were disqualified, elevating the two bronze medals to co-gold medalists and Dlagnev and Daulet Shabanbay (KAZ) to bronze medalists.

Dlagnev will receive his bronze medal almost 10 years afterwards in a ceremony on Sunday, 6 March in Lincoln, Nebraska, prior to the final session of the Big 10 Conference Championships. Dlagnev is an assistant coach for the Cornhuskers.

He was a 2012 and 2016 Olympian at 120 kg, finishing fifth in Rio, and won two World Championships bronze medals during his career.

USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender said, “We are very excited that Tervel Dlagnev will be listed in the history books as an Olympic medalist, a recognition long overdue. It helps restore our faith in the system of keeping wrestling clean. We are grateful for the tireless efforts of the IOC, USOPC and UWW to bring justice in situations where doping rules are violated.”

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