The Sports Examiner

THE TICKER: Paralympics to allow Russians as neutrals; bans from IBU, UCI, FIE, FIL, UWW; U.S. Soccer gets $200 million, eight-year broadcast deal

A supportive salute to Ukraine from the Federation Internationale de Luge

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Plus: Los Angeles 2028: Mayor Garcetti sets up “Games Cabinet” = Aquatics: FINA shuffles Worlds competition calendar = Athletics: Mary Cain now a triathlete = Weightlifting: six Russian positives from 2012 = SCOREBOARD: World leader for Rojas at Indoor Tour Gold meet in Madrid ●

The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:


The International Paralympic Committee announced today:

“The [Russian Paralympic Committee] and [National Paralympic Committee] Belarus will participate as neutrals at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.”

“They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table.

“IPC to host extraordinary General Assembly in 2022 to vote on whether to make compliance with the Olympic Truce a membership requirement and whether to suspend or terminate the membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus Paralympic Committee. IPC will not hold any events in Russia or Belarus until further notice.”

As the IPC has implemented stiffer sanctions than the International Olympic Committee on Russia regarding doping in the past, this is something of a surprise. Asked at a news conference about the decision, IPC President Andrew Parsons (BRA) said:

“This is absolutely not fair, disgusting, it’s against humanity. But again, the decision that we took was based on our constitution.”

Athletes from both Russia and Belarus are already in Beijing for the Winter Paralympic Games that begin on Friday. The Russian news agency TASS reported Russian Paralympic Committee Acting President Pavel Rozhkov’s comments:

“Our athletes will take part in the opening ceremony, there will be 26 of them. We will pick flag bearers tomorrow. I would like to refrain from making detailed comments on the IPC’s decision in order not to harm our athletes with my remarks. Our guys are prepared well.”

The Russian team, still under sanctions by the World Anti-Doping Agency, was going to compete under the RPC flag, but now as neutral athletes.

More bans from International Federations were announced today:

● The International Biathlon Union Executive Board decidednot to allow the participation of any Russian or Belarusian athletes or officials at its international events until further notice including non-sports events organised by the IBU for its members. The EB will further discuss a potential suspension of the two national federations from their IBU membership, latest at the regular EB meeting on 17 March.”

● The Union Cycliste Internationale Management Committee approved further sanctions against Russia and Belarus, including (1) “withdrawal” of team status for all Russian or Belarusian-identified teams in road or track cycling (there are six); (2) removes all events in either country from the UCI calendar (five); (3) “forbids organisers of events on the UCI International Calendar from inviting Russian and Belarusian club, regional or mixed teams” and several other measures.

Russian or Belarusian athletes who are part of non-Russian teams – for example, in road cycling – are not affected, but must not wear any national insignia. Also:

“As part of its decisions, the UCI Management Committee has also taken stance on sponsoring by Russian or Belarusian brands and companies. As it considers that this would damage the image of the UCI and cycling in general, such sponsoring will not be authorised. Teams and event organisers have therefore been requested not to grant any visibility to Russian or Belarusian sponsors at events on the UCI International Calendar.”

● The Federation Internationale de Escrime (FIE) Executive Committee “decided not to invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in FIE competitions, until further notice.”

The long-time FIE President, Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, stepped away from his position on Tuesday to work against sanctions placed on him by the European Union.

● The International Judo Federation canceled all licensed competitions in Russia, but will allow Russian athletes to compete in IJF competitions as neutrals, stating:

“Any radical decision to obstruct the participation of athletes in sporting competitions would only continue the escalation of violence and nurture the feeling of injustice for those athletes who did not participate in any decision regarding the conflict. We cannot condemn the athletes for what is happening.”

● The International Luge Federation, whose season is over, issued a notice that condemned the Russian invasion, declares Russia ineligible to host any FIL events (there were two World Cup races in Sochi last season) and bans all Russian athletes, coaches and officials from FIL events. And:

“The FIL will initiate an investigation into certain derogatory and disturbing social media posts by Russian athletes directed at Ukraine.”

● United World Wresting announced that “no wrestlers or officials belonging to the UWW affiliated and associated federations in Russia and Belarus shall be, with immediate effect, invited or allowed to participate in international competitions in the UWW calendar.”

It also canceled any events in either country this year.


Games of the XXXIV Olympiad: Los Angeles 2028 ● While waiting to be confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to India, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an Executive Directive on Monday, forming a “Games Cabinet” to “facilitate the coordination of City departments and key stakeholders, and ensure that all Angelenos enjoy the benefits of hosting the Games.”

The announcement included: “The Mayor’s 2028 Games Cabinet will be led by the Chief Administrative Officer and the Deputy Mayor of International Affairs, in close collaboration with LA28, the City Council, and the General Managers of the relevant departments.”

● World Anti-Doping Agency ● Three anti-doping organizations were removed from the WADA “compliance watchlist” as they are now in conformity with the World Anti-Doping Code.

These include Romania, Montenegro and the German Community of Belgium. There are no others now on the “watchlist,” but Russia and North Korea are still suspended.

● Aquatics ● FINA announced a significant revision in its approach to its “extraordinary” World Aquatics Championships this summer in Budapest, with the swimming competition to come in the first week rather than the second.

The reason was cited as “special consideration for the training and recovery challenges of a busy 2022 aquatics calendar.”

Swimming will run from 18-25 June, diving from 26 June-3 July, open water competitions from 26-30 June and artistic swimming from 17-25 June. Water polo will be held in four cities from 20 June to 3 July.

The early scheduling sets up a potentially big weekend of Olympic sports for American fans, with the USA Track & Field National Championships in Eugene from 23-26 June. The swimming finals will run from 6-8 p.m. in Budapest – or noon-2 p.m. Eastern time, possibly leading to an 11 a.m. or noon start in Eugene (2 or 3 p.m. Eastern) on the weekend.

● Athletics ● Mary Cain was one of the greatest high school runners in history, but her professional career did not pan out as hoped for. She has filed a $20 million lawsuit against former coach Alberto Salazar and Nike for abuse.

So, is she retired? Nope. Now 25, she’s on her way to being a triathlete and will compete this weekend in Clermont, Florida.

She always enjoyed swimming and is now on the path toward professional status in a new sport.

“I’m so excited to see where this takes me and to try to compete at the highest level possible for me. But honestly, I have no idea what that is going to be.”

● Boxing ● The International Boxing Association, which has a Russian President in Umar Kremlev, announced:

“IBA will provide financial and logistical support for Ukrainian boxers and other team members seeking to continue their participation in competition. Where possible, IBA will also provide humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian team members arriving in neighbouring countries.”

● Football ● U.S. Soccer has obtained a new, English-language broadcast agreement for its national team games, with a reported $200 million being paid for eight years (2023-30) by WarnerMedia, with games to be shown on the HBO Max subscription service and perhaps half the games on television on TBS or TNT.

The new deal is for USSF national team games only, but does not include the FIFA World Cup or CONCACAF national team matches, which are contracted to Fox.

The existing deal that will finish at the end of 2022 was a combination package of USSF and MLS rights that paid an average of $75 million per year for eight years (2015-22) for English-language rights by ESPN and Fox. It was reported that neither network was a bidder for the rights this time around.

The deal is a nice raise in pay for the USSF, another reason for it to agree to settle the Women’s National Team equal-pay lawsuit IF a collective-bargaining agreement is reached.

The USSF Annual General Meeting is this weekend, with the election for federation president between incumbent Cindy Parlow Cone and previous president Carlos Cordeiro on the agenda. But there are other issues.

ESPN reported that a series of gender equity and anti-discrimination rules are up for discussion in Friday’s Board meeting. This would include new regulations requiring the list of candidates for senior positions to include “women and candidates from underserved communities” and that all national teams – men and women – include at least one female coach by 2027. The number of female licensed coaches is also to be increased significantly by 2028.

● Weightlifting ● The blasts from the past just keep on coming for Russia, as the International Testing Agency filed notices of doping positives against six Russian lifters, based on data from the Moscow Laboratory Information System (LIMS) and the McLaren reports into Russian doping from 2011-15.

The lifters named include Aleksandr Ivanov, Dmitry Klokov, Svetlana Tzarukaeva, Natalya Zabolotnaya, Olga Zubova and Apti Aukhadov, from samples given in 2012 and 2013. All were previously found to be doping during re-testing by the International Olympic Committee or the International Weightlifting Federation, but these are new penalties from the IWF’s contracted anti-doping authority.

Ivanov was the London 2012 silver medalist in the men’s 94 kg class, but has since been stripped of the medal in 2016. Klokov won the 2008 Olympic silver at 105 kg, but withdrew prior to the 2012 Games (wonder why?), and was the 2005 World Champion at 105 kg and won four other Worlds medals between 2006-11. Aukhadov won the 2012 Olympic silver at 85 kg, but was later disqualified for doping.

Tzarukaeva won the London 2012 silver in the women’s 63 kg class, but was disqualified for doping in 2016. Zaboltnaya won the 2008 silver at 75 kg, and won silver again in 2012, but was disqualified for doping by the IOC. Zubova won gold at the 2013 Worlds in the women’s 75 kg class, but was disqualified for doping, and then won a bronze at the 2015 Worlds, but was again disqualified.

Additionally, weightlifter Feliks Khalibekov was suspended for two years (2020-22) for a doping positive in 2012 and his results from 2012-16 were “annulled.”


● Athletics ● The final World Indoor Tour Gold meet of the season, in Madrid (ESP) showcased Olympic triple jump champion Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela.

She not only claimed the world lead in the event at 15.41 m (50-6 3/4), it’s the no. 2 performance in history, and she also jumped 15.35 m (50-4 1/2), the no. 4 jump ever!

The women’s star on the track was Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, already the world leader at 3:54.77, winning the 1,500 m in 3:57.58. It’s the no. 6 performance of all time. Poland’s European champ Justyna Swiety-Ersetic got a season’s best to win the 400 m in 51.21.

World leader Eleanor Patterson (AUS) won the high jump at 1.96 m (6-5); Great Britain’s Lorraine Ugen took the women’s long jump with a meet record of 6.67 m (21-10 3/4).

Americans Elijah Hall-Thompson and Michael Rodgers won the men’s 60 m heats in 6.61 and 6.65, and Hall-Thompson took the final in 6.57-6.60 from Rodgers with France’s Jimmy Vicaut third (6.62). Britain’s Elliot Giles won the 800 m in 1:45.43, just 0.01 from his season’s best, beating world leader Mariano Garcia (ESP: 1:45.82).

Tokyo Olympic 10,000 m gold medalist Selemon Barega (ETH) continued a strong indoor season with a 7:34.03-7:34.09 win over countryman (and Tokyo Steeple silver winner) Lamecha Girma.

Lazaro Martinez of Cuba, already no. 2 in the world this season, won the men’s triple jump at 17.12 m (56-2). Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki rose to no. 2 on the 2022 world list with a 21.91 m (71-10 3/4) win in the shot put.

The World Indoor Championships in Belgrade (SRB) start on 18 March.

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