● Plus: Beijing 2022:WADA says Valieva case with RUSADA = Russia: Duma to refute Court of Arbitration jurisdiction! = Ukraine: Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation takes in 50 refugees = Athletics: Oregon 22 introduces mascot “Legend the Bigfoot” = Coe says T&F succeeding in post-Bolt era, but Jamaica disagrees; Martin erases Ryun’s mile mark against preps; two-time World 400 m hurdles champ Hejnova retires = Gymnastics: FIG bans Kuliak for a year for wearing pro-war “Z” on uniform = Luge: German star Ludwig retires = SCOREBOARD => Athletics: Tuliamuk and Korir win USATF 25 km titles = Cycling: Girmay triumphs at Giro d’Italia; Sharrah and Vaughn win USA BMX titles = AT THE BUZZER: Indian wrestler banned for life after attacking ref! ●
News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport:
≡ SPOTLIGHT ≡
Due to the difficulty of holding a full meeting during the Covid-endangered Beijing Winter Games in February, the final portion of the 139th Session of the International Olympic Committee will take place in-person and online on Friday at Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It is therefore possible, although not assured, that the IOC Executive Board could make a recommendation during its meetings on Wednesday and Thursday and ask the Session to vote on what to do about the International Boxing Association.
The IBA elected Russian Umar Kremlev to a full term as President during an Extraordinary Congress in Istanbul (TUR) on Saturday, after his single opponent for the Presidency was disqualified a day before the scheduled elections by an IBA Interim Nominations Unit. Four others who were standing for the Board of Directors were also excluded.
Said the IOC in a statement: “The events surrounding IBA’s general assembly, in particular the elections, merit careful analysis and are just reinforcing the questions and doubts around IBA’s governance.
The IOC has repeatedly raised severe questions about the IBA (formerly known as AIBA) in regard to governance, the refereeing and judging and finance. The finance issues are perhaps even more severe than governance:
● Kremlev, then the Russian Boxing Federation general secretary, was first elected in December 2020. He walked into an AIBA whose financial statements at the end of its fiscal year at 30 June 2020 showed that the federation had assets of $2.02 million and $317,202 in cash. It showed losses of $9.86 million for the fiscal year.
Moreover, AIBA (1) owed CHF 1.37 million to its wholly-owned World Series of Boxing SA subsidiary, (2) was liable for a $10.0 million loan it guaranteed to a subsidiary of World Series of Boxing SA in 2010 to Benkons MMC, an Azerbaijan corporation, which had been negotiated down to CHF 7.69 million and (3) disputed a debt of CHF 22.50 million to Hong Kong-based First Commitment International Trade (FCIT), which had loaned the money to a now-defunct company, Boxing Marketing Arm SA – set up by former AIBA President C.K. Wu (TPE) – which was dissolved in 2018.
● Fast forward a year to 30 June 2021 and the situation was a lot different. The IBA balance sheet showed cash of $30.95 million on hand, total assets of CHF 40.11 million and CHF 4.70 million surplus for the year. What happened?
First, Kremlev got his friends at the Russian Boxing Federation to pay CHF 5.0 million for something to be called the Global Boxing Cup, which was promised for 2021, but has not yet happened thanks to the pandemic.
Next, a CHF 5.0 million fee for the 2021 IBA men’s World Championships was received from the Serbian federation; this event took place in October and November last year. Fine.
Then, Gazprom happened. The Russian energy giant – not a sponsor, but a “General Partner” – shipped a tanker-load of money to the IBA in April 2021; the financial statements noted that “AIBA fully settled its debt with Benkons with two payments, made on 20 April 2021 and on 19 May 2021.”
The financials show CHF 44.04 million in deferred income; 5.0 million is from the Serbian rights fee, so approximately CHF 39 million is likely due to Gazprom’s contribution. It’s probably CHF 40 million since some of its money was received in early 2021.
● Could Kremlev stand prosperity? No.
The newest financials, for the period of 1 July 2021 to 30 March 2022 (9 months) showed cash down to CHF 20.76 million, with CHF 22.6 million in deferred income. This with another CHF 4.85 million coming in for events, apparently from the Turkish federation for the right to stage the 2022 women’s World Championships, now ongoing.
With the Gazprom money in hand, Kremlev went on a spending spree. The IBA spent CHF 4.09 million on marketing and communications (including a slick new Web site), CHF 5.23 million on events, CHF 1.39 million on training and education, CHF 2.19 million on investigations and more: in all, CHF 17.14 million in nine months, compared to CHF 5.48 million for 12 months in 2020-21.
With its businesses under stress from the blowback on the war with Ukraine, Gazprom has indicated that it will not renew its agreement with the IBA beyond its conclusion at the end of 2022. No more sugar.
A prior request by the IOC to see the IBA’s contract with Gazprom was refused (!), but the outcome of the agreement is reasonably clear from the financial statements. Without Gazprom, what is IBA’s real future?
In the 30 June 2021 statements, the Swiss-based auditors wrote about “material uncertainty” about the FCIT loan liability and noted that IBA’s “ability to continue operating for a period over 12 months is conditional upon adherence to approved budget, the capacity of AIBA to continue to find sources of revenues and to whether the risk of a potential litigation” with FCIT.
As we noted on Monday, the IOC has lots of choices on what to do with or about IBA. Whatever is done – or not done – will be the first question to be answered by the IOC’s Executive Board and then the Session this week.
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● XXIV Olympic Winter Games: Beijing 2022 ● The Kamila Valieva case drags on.
The Russian news agency TASS reported that the World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that the Valieva case will not be discussed at this week’s WADA meetings in Cairo (EGY).
“It won’t. … This is the responsibility of the relevant results management body, that is, RUSADA [Russian Anti-Doping Agency].”
The RUSADA report on the Valieva case is expected to be completed by 8 August. Waiting for a decision are the medal-winners for the Team Event, where Russia was first, the U.S. second and Japan third. Valieva was found to have failed a drug test on 25 December 2021, but the report of the positive was received late from the Stockholm testing lab and although RUSADA initially suspended Valieva, that holding was overturned from the RUSADA appeals committee and she was allowed to skate.
● Russia ● The Olympic Games are pretty important to athletes. Here’s what Russia’s three-time Olympic gold medalist Alexandra Patskevich said at a Tuesday educational seminar (per TASS):
“Very often before the Olympics, I heard questions, received comments on the topic of why go there at all, if they don’t wait for us there, if we were deprived of the flag.
“But depriving an athlete of the opportunity to compete at the Olympics is tantamount to death. All my life I lived in sports, I lost a lot, as a child you didn’t have holidays, entertainment, you worked from a very early age, you were rarely at home, but you knew that you would have the opportunity to go to the Olympics and show yourself.
“And then, for some reason, someone deprives you of this opportunity for some reason. Yes, they took away the flag and the anthem from us, allowed us to represent the Russian Olympic team. I will come on principle and prove that I am Russian, and I will you will all listen to Tchaikovsky.”
Patskevich was a member of the winning Russian teams at the 2012-16-20 Games and a 13-time World Championships gold medalist in Duet and Team events in 2009-11-13-15-17.
The Russian State Duma (legislature) will introduce a bill which states that the country’s athletes and sports institutions are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
TASS reported that State Duma Committee on Physical Culture and Sports member Roman Teryushkov “will prepare a draft law on the abolition of the prevalence of international sports arbitration over the laws of the Russian Federation.” According to Teryushkov:
“In 2016, unfortunately, the law introduced the prevalence of international sports arbitration over the laws of the Russian Federation. Therefore, we received a mandatory enforcement of the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which, in my opinion, is wrong. Our task is to protect our athletes and legally ensure performances at domestic or international competitions, if we are called there. For this, the norm must be abolished, and I will prepare a corresponding bill.”
He explained further:
“I propose to recognize at the state level as illegal the deprivation of athletes of state symbols. Also to recognize the actions of sports federations under criminal law, using the term ‘outrage.’
“We must develop a new international policy, including one related to the values of Olympism.”
Observed: Such a bill would not only further isolate Russia from the international sports community, it could be grounds for not allowing Russian re-integration with many (if not all of the) International Federations, who have agreed to be subject to CAS jurisdiction over disputes.
● Ukraine ● “[T]he Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation is proud to announce that Utah is welcoming approximately 50 displaced Ukrainian athletes, coaches and family members beginning in May in an all-encompassing humanitarian and sporting initiative to provide a safe haven and training opportunities amid unrest and turmoil in their home country.”
The announcement noted that the first Ukrainian athletes arrived on 13 May and added:
“Athletes who compete in the sports of curling and freestyle skiing will travel to Utah. Ten curling athletes are now training at the Utah Olympic Oval and Weber County Ice Rink and living in University of Utah housing. A second group of 39 freestyle skiing athletes, coaches and family members is scheduled to arrive in June, with housing and training hosted at Utah Olympic Park, and additional training resources available at U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s USANA Center of Excellence.”
The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games ended with a surplus and a significant portion of those funds have been used to maintain the venues and to stage national and international competitions, training and youth sports programs. The UOLF estimates that athletes from 30 countries visit these venues annually.
● Athletics ● “SAY WHAT?!”
That was a Monday headline from the Jamaica Observer, with a sub-head of “Lord Coe thinks athletics in a better place after Bolt’s retirement”.
The story quotes World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (GBR), explaining that while Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt brought unparalleled attention to the sport, it’s in a very good place now, five years after his last race:
“We loved Usain. Those years were extraordinary years, he is the Muhammad Ali of our sport, but I think the sport is healthier now, for not just necessarily focusing on one person. …
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more optimistic about the nature of the sport, and I’m optimistic for two reasons. One is we’ve got a breadth of talent now – this is a generational thing. You know, when you’ve got athletes like Karsten Warholm and Sydney McLaughlin, you’ve got Mondo Duplantis, you have the most extraordinary talent, young talent as well. And they are not just alone in their events. You know, they’ve got people like Rai Benjamin and Dalilah Muhammad chasing them wherever you look. So that is important.
“I think the other thing, too, is I’ve always felt a barometer, a good gauge for the health and vibrancy of our sport is what’s going on at the Under-20 level. I was in Nairobi last year for the World Under-20s and some of those performances were absolutely jaw-dropping. I have no reason to believe that when we get to Cali, Colombia, this year that this will be any different.
“And so not only have we got great young talent at senior level, we’ve got great talent coming through that, with a bit of luck and no injuries, will come through and do really well. On those two metrics, the talent that we’ve now got in the senior ranks and the talent coming through at the junior level, tells me that we’ve got some outstanding talent, and if you look at Erriyon Knighton and you look at Athing Mu, I mean, then, you know we’re in good shape.”
Jamaican coach Maurice Wilson disagreed with Coe:
“I am not necessarily in agreement with the comments of our distinguished president of World Athletics. If you were to look at all the major sports, they all have someone of the calibre of Bolt. Tiger Woods in golf, the Williams sisters in tennis, Michael Schumacher in motor sports, Brian Lara in cricket, and I could go on and on. There is this attraction to persons who are outstanding, they bring a difference and because of that, there is more support and attention given to the sport.”
American sprint star Sha’Carri Richardson has been noticeably absent from the track this season, and wrote on Instagram (later deleted) on Sunday:
“I was in a relationship with a [female] Jamaican athlete that never cared about me from jump. I was abused and stole from yet protected her from the judgement of her country and family while they dragged me. I had to deal with homophobic and so much more that I’m still healing from.”
Richardson, now 22, last ran in Padua (ITA) last 5 September, finishing second in the women’s 100 m in 11.19.
While not a world-leading time or otherwise earth-shaking performance, Gary Martin of Warminster, Pennsylvania’s Archbishop Wood HS won the Philadelphia Catholic League Championships mile in 3:57.98, his first-ever sub-4:00 mile.
More impressively, it’s the fastest mile ever by a U.S. prep in a high school-only competition. Martin, who will attend Virginia next season, broke the 57-year-old mark of 3:58.3 by Jim Ryun of Wichita East from the 1965 Kansas state meet.
Martin had already been close, running 4:00.95 in April and had ideal conditions at Cardinal O’Hara HS in Springfield for the record try. He finished in 59.63 and then went on to win the 800 m in 1:51.29 and added a 49.14 split on the 4×400 m.
He’s the 14th prep to break 4:00 and 12th to do it outdoors. His time ranks him third on the all-time HS outdoor list behind Alan Webb (3:53.43 ‘01) and Ryun (3:55.3 ‘65), with the no. 4 performance.
Czech 400 m hurdles star Zuzana Hejnova, the two-time World Champion in 2013 and 2015, announced her retirement at age 35 amid her first pregnancy.
She won an Olympic bronze in London in 2012, was fourth at Rio in 2016 and finishes with a lifetime best of 52.83 from 2013, no. 16 on the all-time list. She won 13 national titles and set 11 national records in the 400 m hurdles; she also competed in the pentathlon and heptathlon, scoring 5,748 in 2003.
The Oregon22 organizers have announced “Legend the Bigfoot” as the mascot for the 2022 Worlds in Eugene this July.
“We started with many concepts – some fictional, some wildlife, others abstract – and then narrowed it down to a select few,” said AJ Gaulton, Fan Experience Director of Oregon22 organizing committee. “After group deliberation, workshops, and feedback from focus groups, one character stood above the rest with a clear vision for meeting each key deliverable identified.”
The announcement explained:
“The Pacific Northwest has long been known for its natural beauty, culture, uniqueness, and love of sport. There has also long been the legend of a mysterious creature roaming the region that came to be known as Bigfoot. Legend became the logical choice for the WCH Oregon22 mascot as a character whose personality will be an extension of the event itself – tying together the location of Oregon, the venue of Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, and the sport of track and field.”
Observed: Those who will deride this choice as a hairy, wildlife version of “WhatIzIt” from the 1996 Atlanta Games – the character was later nicknamed “Izzy” – should be grateful that Oregon22’s choice was based in nature. Another choice could have been “Pre Lives.”
As for a nature-based mascot, is Legend better or worse than the Stanford “Tree”?
● Gymnastics ● You may remember the outrage caused by Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, 20, who wore the pro-war “Z” symbol on his uniform at the FIG Artistic Apparatus World Cup in Doha (QAT) in March? On Tuesday, the FIG Disciplinary Commission announced:
● “Mr Kuliak is disqualified from the Doha FIG Apparatus World Cup and he will return the bronze medal and the prize money of CHF 500.- or the equivalent in US dollar;
● “Mr Kuliak is not allowed to participate in any FIG-sanctioned event or competition organised by an affiliated FIG member federation for one year as of the date of this decision. If the protective measures keeping Russian athletes from competing are still in place on 17 May 2023, the ban shall continue and expire six months after the removal of said measures.”
No sanctions were imposed on the Russian coach or the head of the delegation; Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from FIG competitions occurring after the Doha World Cup. Kuliak can appeal the decision to the Gymnastics Appeal Tribunal.
● Luge ● German star Johannes Ludwig, 36, announced his retirement from the sport after winning three Olympic golds and two World Championship relay golds.
Ludwig won the Beijing 2022 gold in the men’s Singles division, then won a second gold on the Team Relay. He won a Singles bronze in PyeongChang in 2018 and a gold on the Team Relay.
His two Worlds golds came on the Team Relay in 2017 and 2020; he won an individual bronze in Singles in 2013. He won the World Cup seasonal title in 2021-22.
≡ SCOREBOARD ≡
● Athletics ● The USA Track & Field National Championships at 25 km were held last Saturday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials champ Aliphine Tuliamuk and multi-time national champion Leonard Korir winning decisively.
Tuliamuk ran with U.S. marathon record-setter Keira D’Amato for the first 10 km, but broke away at about the 18 km mark and won going away in 1:23:19 to 1:24:04 for D’Amato. It was Tuliamuk’s fourth USATF 25 km title.
Korir broke away from two other front-runners at about the 12 km mark and won in 1:15:53 for his eighth career USATF road title. Futsum Zeinasellassie finished second, as he did a week earlier at the USATF Half Marathon Championships, in 1:16:29.
● Cycling ● The hilly 10th stage of the 105th Giro d’Italia as a win for rapidly-rising star Biniam Girmay of Eritrea, winning a mass sprint at the end of the 196 km route from Pescara to Jesi.
Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel attacked with 5 km to go, but was caught and Girmay’s late sprint was enough to get him to the line first for his first career Grand Tour stage win. Van der Poel was second, with the same time (4:32:07), ahead of Vincenzo Albanese (ITA), Wilco Kelderman (NED) and Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz.
No change in the overall standings as Juan Pablo Lopez (ESP) continues to lead.
The USA Cycling BMX National Championships took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Sunday, with 2017 World Champion Corben Sharrah coming out on top in the men’s Elite race, ahead of Kamren Larsen and Lucas Howes.
The women’s Elite title went to Daleny Vaughn, who bested Felicia Stancil on the final lap.
≡ AT THE BUZZER ≡
Heavyweight Freestyle wrestler Satender Malik was banned for life by the Wrestling Federation of India after he attacked referee Jagbir Singh following a loss in the 125 kg final of the Commonwealth Games Selection Trials in New Delhi.
Malik was leading 3-0 late in his bout against Mohit Grewal, but Grewal scored what appeared to be a takedown and pushed Malik out of bounds for three points. He was awarded only one and challenged and then Singh reviewed the video and agreed to the three points, which eventually gave the title to Grewal on criteria.
Malik then found Singh, slapped him and shoved him to the ground. The wrestler was hustled out of the arena and Singh was rattled, but not seriously injured. The federation announced the lifetime ban for the attack and has started an inquiry into why the takedown was not correctly scored when it happened.
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