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● Plus: Los Angeles 2028: Flag football? = IOC: Signs CBC for Canadian rights to 2026-28-30-32 Games = USOPC: Kiraly leads Coach of the Year honorees = Women in Sport: 5,446 sign petition asking NCAA and NGBs for fairness to women in transgender regs = Athletics: Schwazer’s doping “manipulation” scenario found false = Diving: Chinese stars Xie and Shi retire = Football: Platini’s criminal complaint vs. Infantino made public = Volleyball: Russian federation wants $80 million from FIVB for removing 2022 Worlds = Weightlifting: USA Weightlifting goes public with Congress, Worlds proposals
= SCOREBOARD = Curling: Canada leads as men’s Worlds round-robin nears the end ●
The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:
≡ SPOTLIGHT ≡
The Court of Arbitration for Sport finally published the detailed, 15-page decision on why it rejected the appeal of the nine U.S. figure skaters who petitioned for a Team Event medal ceremony at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
The appeal was made by the nine skaters as a group, independent from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and without the support of the other medal-winning teams from Russia or Japan, and was turned down. Why the appeal was refused was explained.
The three-member panel, made up of arbitrators from Denmark, France and China, noted the skater’s interest in a public ceremony, and their claims that not having a ceremony in Beijing, during the Winter Games would result in serious damages:
● “31. The absence of the public recognition of the Applicants’ outstanding life achievements to win an Olympic silver medal may cause a mental hurdle and psychological damage, which will affect their future performance.”
● “32. Moreover, not having the medals awarded to them during the OWG 2022 will be damaging to the Applicants, in particular with regard to the possible sponsoring and endorsement opportunities, which will normally only be available during a narrow window after the closing of the Olympic Games and at the momentum of the public exposure of the medal ceremony.”
The appeal was made on technical grounds, taking a very narrow interpretation of the language of the Olympic Charter.
The IOC’s reply was that the skaters cannot pick and choose which language of the Charter and other event regulations it wants to apply, that the situation was unprecedented and that they have not been sanctioned in any way, since the results of their event have not – as the situation developed – been finally determined.
The U.S. skaters had a high bar to clear since Rule 56 of the Charter reads:
“Any decision regarding the awarding, withdrawal or reallocation of any victory medal or diploma falls within the sole authority of the IOC.”
The skaters pointed to the Host City Contract and the IOC’s various operations guides and requirements that a medal ceremony should follow the conclusion of each event, but the Panel held that – under Swiss law – these contractual requirements are only binding between the IOC and the organizing committee, and not between others (such as competing athletes). That finding will be one to remember for the future.
Further, the Panel noted that the U.S. athletes are not being deprived of a medal ceremony, but only of the timing and place of that ceremony, and
“While the Panel appreciates that the Applicants might feel that they have been treated differently than other Olympic athletes, who were competing in different Olympic events and who subsequently were awarded their well-deserved Olympic medals at a public medal ceremony held during the OWG 2022, the Panel agrees with the IOC that the decision to treat a different and unprecedented situation in a different way does not per se constitute or imply an unjustified unequal treatment of the athletes covered by such a decision. The Appealed Decision did cover all of the Olympic medallists in the OWG 2022 Figure Skating Team Event, and the Panel also finds that the Appealed Decision was neither arbitrary nor unjustifiable.”
The decision was not unexpected, especially in view of the IOC’s absolute rights reserved to it under the Olympic Charter. And it did clarify the legal applicability of the Host City Contract and the IOC’s operating requirements for the Games to others who are not a direct party to those agreements.
In the meantime, the Valieva doping positive has still not been resolved and everyone continues to wait.
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● Games of the XXXIV Olympiad: Los Angeles 2028 ● “We’ve got to make the game matter. If flag football becomes an Olympic sport, more countries will invest in playing that sport.”
So said Damani Leech (USA), the chief operating officer of NFL International, in a CNBC interview. “Over the next five years, we want to expand NFL flag football.”
There are more than a dozen other sports asking the LA28 organizers to include them as added sports on the 2028 program and NFL Flag Football is one of the least-developed on the international level.
However, it will get exposure at the upcoming 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, in the heart of SEC football country, with IOC observers in attendance.
● International Olympic Committee ● The IOC sold its broadcasting rights in Canada for the 2026-28-30-32 Games to incumbent rights-holders the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Canada.
No cost figures were provided in the announcement; CBC/Radio Canada has held the Canadian rights for the Games in recent years – 2014-16-18-20-22-24 – and now through 2032.
Chris Wilson, executive director of CBC Sports, said, “It’s the biggest thing we do as a company. It draws the biggest audiences. It is one of the most relevant things we do that brings the country together. And so I really believe it just sort of cements, as part of our mandate, a really major programming pillar for the company as a whole.”
Wilson said that 70% of Canadians watched some part of the recent Beijing Olympic Winter Games, following 74% for the Tokyo Olympic Games held last year. The comparable figures in the U.S. are under 50% for NBC.
The IOC agreement includes a commitment to showing at least 200 hours of the Olympic Games and 100 hours of the Winter Games on free-to-air television.
The IOC also announced a new TOP sponsorship with the worldwide consulting firm Deloitte, to provide “expertise in management and business consulting to help enhance and secure the IOC’s digital ecosystem supporting the Olympic Movement.”
London-headquartered Deloitte has already been deeply involved with Olympic partners in specific countries, including as a sponsor of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the Los Angeles Olympic & Paralympic Games organizers, and National Olympic Committees in Canada, Germany, Ireland and Poland.
According to the announcement: “Deloitte will utilise its environmental, social and governance services expertise to assist the Olympic Movement in driving progress on critical challenges identified in Olympic Agenda 2020+5 related to corporate governance, strategy, sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, and athlete support and well-being.”
● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● Coaches of the year were named in multiple classifications, including Karch Kiraly as Olympic Coach of the Year.
Kiraly, acknowledged as one of the greatest players in volleyball history and an Olympic gold medalist both indoors and on the beach, led the U.S. women’s team to its first-ever Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Nathan Manley was named as Paralympic Coach of the Year for his support of athletes training at the USOPC Training Center during the pandemic and for their success in the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Two coaches from USA Swimming were honored: Ron Aitken (Sandpipers of Nevada) as Developmental Coach of the Year and Todd DeSorbo (Virginia) as College Coach of the Year. Also:
● USA Hockey’s Phil Edwards was selected as Coach-Educator of the Year.
● Physical therapist and athletic trainer Kara Kessans was named Service Provider of the Year for her work with the U.S. women’s indoor volleyball team.
● Mary Murphy of the Madison Speedskating Club was recognized as the Volunteer Coach of the Year.
● The highly-respected sport physiologist Dr. Randy Wilber earned the Doc Counsilman Science Award.
National Governing Bodies nominated their 2021 coaches as part of the USOPC Coach of the Year Recognition Program, and the winners were determined by a USOPC selection panel.
● Women in Sports ● The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group and Champion Women released a 141-page announcement that more than 5,446 individuals – including 297 Olympians and Paralympians – have signed petitions “that call upon legislatures and sports governance organizations to prioritize fairness and safety for females over blanket transgender inclusion or exclusion in girls’ and women’s competitive sports.”
The goal of the petitions is explained thus:
“The WSPWG’s policy position is that sport leaders should work cooperatively to fashion rules so that transgender girls and women are fully welcome into sport. Their sport performances should be respected in girls’ and women’s competitive sports if they are separately scored OR if they can demonstrate that their male post-puberty advantage has been sufficiently mitigated. Similar separate scoring based on performance advantages are already fully accepted in sports, such as age categories, or weight categories in wrestling, rowing, and weightlifting, etc.”
The Champion Women petition asks for international and national governing bodies (including the NCAA) to “adopt transgender eligibility guidelines that are evidence-based and that affirm fairness for females in the women’s sports category” and adds:
“In January, the NCAA asked USA Swimming to create transgender eligibility standards. [USA] Swimming created outstanding policies and procedures that conformed to the fairness tests set out below. The NCAA then quickly reversed course, and allowed Lia Thomas to swim in the NCAA Women’s Championships, even though it knew inclusion would not be fair to the biological women.”
The lengthy explanation of the transgender issue, especially as it relates to swimming included this:
“In the 1970s and 1980s, sport failed to address the travesty of East German women dominating swimming by ingesting and injecting large amounts of performance enhancing drugs. At the time, sport leaders did not stand up for U.S. women who were not testosterone advantaged. Instead, women were told to be gracious losers. Now in 2022, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, USA Swimming’s 2022 guidelines on transgender inclusion must support competitive equality for biological women. Do not tell women to be gracious losers again.”
● Athletics ● The drama over Italian race walking star Alex Schwazer continues.
Schwazer won the Beijing 2008 Olympic 50 km Walk and the 2010 European Championships 20 km Walk, but tested positive for doping in advance of the 2012 London Games and was suspended for 3 1/2 years in April 2013 by the Italian anti-doping agency.
A January 2016 test that was initially declared clean was re-tested in May and found positive. Schwazer appealed, but was found to have committed a doping violation by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and given an eight-year ban into July 2024.
An Italian court held in February 2021 that Schwazer’s 2016 positive was due to manipulation of his sample and, although not binding against his international doping ban, has cast doubt on the proceedings.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has continued to pursue the issues and stated on Thursday that “the athlete’s sample collected on 1 January 2016 by World Athletics was not subject to any form of manipulation.”
WADA commissioned an independent report on the findings of the Italian judge; the review “establishes that the manipulation scenario devised by Judge Pelino is wholly implausible and that there is no analytical evidence of it.”
The Athletics Integrity Unit independently conducted a test of the DNA levels in the sample, as against a blind sample of 100 others and found that the DNA concentration was within the normal range, disproving another allegation of manipulation, detailed in a nine-page report.
The bottom line: “the manipulation scenario is wholly implausible – if not to say impossible – from a scientific perspective.” Schwazer remains suspended.
● Diving ● Reports in Chinese media indicate that star divers Tingmao Shi and Siyi Xie have retired.
Xie, now 26, won the Tokyo Olympic 3 m Springboard gold and teamed with Zongyuan Wang to win the 3 m Synchro gold. He won the 3 m World Championships title in 2017 and 2019 and the Worlds 1 m Springboard in 2015.
Shi, 30, won a double-double in Rio and Tokyo in the 3 m Springboard and 3 m Synchro (with Minxia Wu in 2016 and Han Wang in 2021), plus eight World Championships golds from 2011-19, including three individual 3 m Springboard titles.
Don’t expect much of a let-down from the Chinese, however, as they went 1-2 in Tokyo in both the men’s and women’s Springboard and Platform events and won three golds and a silver in the four synchro events.
● Football ● Former French football great and ex-UEFA President Michel Platini (FRA) filed a criminal complaint against current FIFA President Gianni Infantino (SUI) in November in France, alleging influence peddling.
Platini was indicted in Switzerland, along with former FIFA President Sepp Blatter (SUI) on fraud charges from payments made in 2011. They are expected to be tried later this year.
Platini’s action against Infantino appears to target discussions Infantino had with former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber in 2016, possibly about the payments-to-Platini scandal. Swiss authorities have been investigating the activities, but Infantino has not been charged.
● Volleyball ● The Russian news agency TASS reported an appeal by the All-Russian Volleyball Federation with the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). According to the federation’s statement:
“The All-Russian Volleyball Federation has filed an appeal with the FIVB Appeals Committee regarding the cancellation of the World Championship. Further steps will be taken following the committee’s decision, including a possible lawsuit [at the Court of Arbitration for Sport].”
The tournament was removed from Russia on 1 March in view of its invasion of Ukraine; it was slated to be held from 26 August-11 September in 10 cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Yaroslavl, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Ufa, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo and Krasnoyarsk.
A prior report stated that a filing had been made with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, asking for $80 million in compensation for the removal of the 2022 men’s World Championship, but this may have been premature.
● Weightlifting ● USA Weightlifting publicly announced its offers to the International Weightlifting Federation to host the IWF Electoral Congress in June and the 2022 IWF World Championships in November.
The Electoral Congress, scheduled for 25-26 June, is proposed to be held in Las Vegas, at the same time as the U.S. national championships. USA Weightlifting is also creating a new event, the Friendship Cup:
“This exhibition concept, not currently sanctioned by the IWF, will see two-person teams where a man is randomly paired with a woman from a different nation. Youth-level athletes will compete June 25-27, followed by juniors June 28-30 and seniors July 1-3. Results will be determined by each team’s Sinclair coefficient.”
The Worlds proposal is centered on Atlanta and the Georgia International Congress Center, with close rail links to Hartsfield International Airport and walking distance from the proposed team hotels. China withdrew from hosting the 2022 Worlds in view of continuing Covid concerns in the country.
≡ SCOREBOARD ≡
● Curling ● The men’s World Championship is ongoing in Las Vegas, with the 13-team round robin continuing through Friday, with the top six teams to make it into the playoffs.
So far, Turin 2006 Olympic gold medalist Brad Gushue’s Canadian squad leads at 7-2, but is closely followed by Scotland (Kyle Waddell), Sweden (Beijing 2022 champ Niklas Edin), and the U.S. (Korey Dropkin) at 6-3., with South Korea (Soo-hyuk Kim) at 5-3.
The championship matches will be on Sunday.
For our 832-event International Sports Calendar for 2022 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!