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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. European Parliament rips IOC for Russian re-entry concept
2. Sports ministers issue statement vs. IOC on Russian re-entry
3. Boxing Worlds boycott expands with Dutch, Swiss
4. IBA issues own “qualification” program for Paris 2024
5. Remembering hurdles champion Greg Foster
The European Parliament, representing 27 nations, rebuked the International Olympic Committee for its exploration of a return to competition for Russian and Belarusian athletes, even as neutrals. A formal statement from the 10 February online meeting of sports ministers from three dozen countries urged the IOC not to allow Russian or Belarusian athletes back into competition and said the onus lies with Russia to end the war they started. The boxing federations from the Netherlands and Switzerland said they would not compete in the International Boxing Association’s Women’s World Championships in India in mid-March, bringing to eight the number of countries skipping the event. Meanwhile, despite the IOC stating last September that the IBA would not be involved in the qualification process for boxing at the 2024 Paris Games, the IBA issued its own “qualification pathway,” naming its own world championships as the primary qualifier. The document is no value, of course, as the IOC is the sole, worldwide owner of the Olympic Games. Sad news that UCLA great and four-time World Champion Greg Foster (USA), one of the greatest high hurdlers in history, passed away on Sunday at age 64 after a lengthy battle with medical issues over the last five years.
● Panorama: International Testing Agency (21st summer Olympic federation signs up) = Russia (another Palestine equestrian) = Athletics (CJ Ujah owns UK Sport £10,665!) = Badminton (Canada-U.S. 1-2 in PanAm Cup) = Canoe/Kayak (Fox-Leibfarth 1-2 in C-1 Slalom ranking race) = Football (FIFA Foundation donates earthquake relief) ●
European Parliament rips IOC for Russian re-entry concept
The International Olympic Committee received its harshest criticism yet from its exploration of conditions under which Russian and Belarusian athletes might re-enter international competition as part of a 31-point resolution of the European Parliament issued last Thursday (16th).
The “European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2023 on one year of Russia’s invasion and war of aggression against Ukraine” includes a list of recitals reflecting the body’s view of the war, including:
● “whereas Russia has been carrying out an illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine since 24 February 2022; whereas this war of aggression constitutes a blatant and flagrant violation of the UN Charter and of the fundamental principles of international law”;
● “whereas the liberation of Ukrainian territories has led to the discovery of overwhelming evidence of structural and widespread human rights violations and war crimes committed by Russian forces and their proxies”;
● “whereas Russia’s war of aggression shows its colonial attitude towards its neighbours; whereas as long as Russia remains an imperial state, it will continue its efforts to maintain the ever-looming threat of aggression on the European continent; whereas numerous international actors have recognised Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and a state which uses means of terrorism.”
In the convoluted European Union system, the European Parliament is the 705-member legislative body that has members elected directly from each of the 27 member countries. It is designed as the voice of the people.
The resolution specifically calls out the IOC in item 24:
“Reiterates its condemnation of the recent decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in qualifications for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games under a neutral flag, which runs counter to those countries’ multifaceted isolation and will be used by both regimes for propaganda purposes; calls on the Member States and the international community to exert pressure on the IOC to reverse this decision, which is an embarrassment to the international world of sport, and to adopt a similar position on any other sport, cultural or scientific events.”
This section is not an outlier, but rather part of the resolution’s concept of isolating Russia, also included in item 19, “Calls on the [EU] Council to maintain its sanctions policy against Russia and Belarus,” and in item 21:
“Calls on the EU and its Member States to take further action to continue the international isolation of the Russian Federation, including with regard to Russia’s membership of international organisations and bodies such as the United Nations Security Council.”
The resolution was passed with 444 votes in favor, 26 against and 37 abstentions. The IOC posted no response to the resolution through Monday evening.
Sports ministers issue statement vs. IOC on Russian re-entry
Following up on the 10 February online meeting of national sports ministers of 26 nations hosted by Great Britain, a formal statement was published Monday by the British Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Signed by representatives of 34 countries – including Amelie Oudea-Castera, Minister of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in France – the declaration included (expanded for readability):
● “We firmly believe that, given there has been no change in the situation regarding the Russian aggression in Ukraine, and as an imperative for fairness and solidarity towards the Ukrainian athletes whose facilities have been destroyed and who have had to leave their country (or stay to fight for the defence of Ukraine in which very many have lost their lives), there is no practical reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes set by the IOC in their statement of 28 February 2022.”
● “In our collective statement of 4 July 2022, in view of the non-discrimination principle, we recognised that Russian and Belarusian nationals could be allowed to compete as ‘neutral’ individuals, subject to conditions to ensure they are clearly not representing their states. …
“However, in Russia and Belarus sport and politics are closely intertwined. We have strong concerns on how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutrals’ – under the IOC’s conditions of no identification with their country – when they are directly funded and supported by their states (unlike, for example, professional tennis players).
“The strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military are also of clear concern. Our collective approach throughout has therefore never been one of discrimination simply on the basis of nationality, but these strong concerns need to be dealt with by the IOC.”
● “As long as these fundamental issues and the substantial lack of clarity and concrete detail on a workable ‘neutrality’ model are not addressed, we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition.
“Noting the IOC’s stated position that no final decisions have been made, we strongly urge the IOC to address the questions identified by all countries and reconsider its proposal accordingly.
“We also note that Russia and Belarus have it in their own hands to pave the way for their athletes’ full return to the international sports community, namely by ending the war they started.”
Of the 36 nations participating during the conference, Australia, Hungary and Switzerland did not sign on (neither did Ukraine, as the object of the statement). Two countries not previously listed joined in: Liechtenstein and Romania.
This statement is important and serious, notably for the agreement of French Olympic and Paralympic Minister Oudea-Castera, and leaves many options that the IOC would not like open as the calendar moves inexorably toward July 2024.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Lee Satterfield was a signatory and in a separate statement added:
“The United States will continue to join a vast community of nations to hold Russia and Belarus – and the bad actors who dictate their actions – accountable for this brutal war. Russia has proven, time and again, it has no regard for and is incapable of following the rules – in international sport and in international law.”
Boxing Worlds boycott expands with Dutch, Swiss
The list of countries declining to compete in March’s International Boxing Association Women’s World Championships in New Delhi (IND) from 15-31 March continues to expand, with Switzerland and the Netherlands signaling their disinterest over the weekend.
The Dutch Boxing Federation posted its decision on Sunday (19th), explaining in part:
“The Dutch Boxing Federation Board unanimously voted not to send delegations to IBA competitions that violate the IOC sanctions. This includes the 2023 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in New Delhi, India.
“The current position of the International Boxing Association on participation of Russian and Belarusian boxers in international competitions under their respective national symbols as well as the permission to organize boxing competitions in Russia and Belarus has led to blatant violations of the IOC sanctions at IBA competitions. …
“The long-standing concerns shared by the IOC and many National Boxing Federations around IBA’s governance, its financial transparency and sustainability, and about the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes are now exacerbated due to a flagrant breach of the IOC’s sanctions related to the violation of the Olympic Truce by the government of Russia with the assistance of the government of Belarus. This is another example of IBA’s inability or unwillingness to work towards its reinstatement as an Olympic International Sports Federation.”
The list of countries now skipping the Women’s World Championships in March started with the U.S. and now includes Canada, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. And there are still 3 1/2 weeks to go before the Women’s Worlds.
The IBA has stated that nearly 400 women boxers from 77 countries will take part in March’s World Championships; the IBA claims to have 204 national federations as members.
IBA issues own “qualification” program for Paris 2024
On 8 September 2022, the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board published the details of the qualification system for boxing for Paris 2024, including:
“[T]he new qualification system is based on direct qualification through selected competitions, including the use of National Olympic Committee (NOC) regional multisport events as Olympic boxing qualification tournaments. The responsibility for the boxing competitions in the following events will therefore not lie with the IBA, and alternative arrangements will be put in place with the respective event organisers:
“● Pan-American Games – Santiago 2023
“● European Games – Krakow 2023
“● Pacific Games – Honiara 2023
“● Asian Games – Hangzhou 2022 (taking place in 2023)
“● ANOCA (Africa) multisport event to be confirmed
“Following the continental phase of the quota place allocation, two world qualification tournaments are planned to be held in 2024.”
The IBA was clearly left out. But that’s not the way the IBA wants it.
So, on Monday, the IBA indulged itself in fantasy with the publication of its own “qualification pathway” for Paris 2024, ignoring the IOC’s September announcement and declaring that the “decision was unanimously taken by National Federations at the IBA Ordinary Congress in Abu Dhabi, UAE” last December.
The IBA’s document – completely irrelevant as regards the Olympic Games, of which the IOC is the sole worldwide owner – specifies, of course:
“Athletes will qualify for the Olympic categories on the basis of:
“a. Their placings in the IBA World Championships.
“b. Their final ranking in the IBA World Ranking List of 31 December 2023 and 31 March 2024 for each Olympic Category.
“c. Their placings in the World Qualification Event.
“d. Their placings in the Continental Elite Championships.
“e. Host country places.
“f. Universality places”
It’s an astonishing slap at the IOC, and only further damages the sport’s chances of being included not just in 2028, but also in 2024.
The IOC shot back, telling the Russian news agency TASS:
“As announced by the IOC in June 2022, the IBA will not participate in the Paris 2024 boxing qualification and tournament. The only current qualification is the system approved by the IOC Executive Board in September 2022, published and circulated to National Olympic Committees and National Boxing Federations on December 6, 2022.”
Boris van der Vorst, head of the Dutch Boxing Federation was an immediate critic of the IBA’s tactics, stating on Twitter:
● “IBA, suspended by the IOC since 2019 & stripped of the privilege to govern Olympic boxing for unresolved breaches of the Olympic Charter, has just released a statement from a parallel universe, where it overruled the IOC on the qualification system for Paris 2024.”
● “I will not focus specific claims of the IBA, since the statement is composed entirely of lies. It is incredibly disruptive & damaging to the boxers, coaches, and boxing administrators, who are trying to prepare for the real Paris 2024 Boxing Qualification Events”
● “The IBA leadership is destroying boxing as an Olympic sport.”
The IOC Executive Board is next slated to meet in March. It cannot remove boxing from the Paris 2024 program; that can only be done by a vote of the IOC Session, which will next be held in Mumbai (IND) in the fall. But the IBA’s actions may now have crossed the point of no return.
Remembering hurdles champion Greg Foster
The famed late UCLA head track & field coach Jim Bush, a five-time NCAA men’s team championship winner, who trained star quartermilers such as Wayne Collett, John Smith and Maxie Parks, said in 1980 of Greg Foster: “The greatest all-around track athlete I have ever coached.”
That was coming into Foster’s senior year as the best athlete Bush never recruited. Foster simply wrote to Bush during his senior year at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois, saying he wanted to come to UCLA. Oh yes, he had equaled the national prep record in the 120-yard hurdles at 13.2. No trouble finding a scholarship for him.
Foster came to Westwood as the team’s no. 2 high hurdler behind 1976 Olympian James Owens, but they became a dangerous pair with Owens winning the ‘77 NCAA meet and Foster finishing third, despite stumbling over the last hurdle.
By 1978, Foster was the best hurdler in American history, winning the NCAAs in an American Record 13.22, ahead of a Maryland freshman named Renaldo Nehemiah (13.27). Nehemiah surpassed Foster, setting a world record of 13.00 in 1979 and forcing Foster to memorably split a hurdle at that year’s NCAA meet, but it is less remembered that Foster won the 200 m!
And Foster won the 1980 NCAA hurdles title, was third in the 200 m and anchored the fourth-place 4×100 m relay, ending his college career with three national titles and 43 career points. He held school records in the 200 m, hurdles and on the relay. One of the greatest Bruins of them all.
Foster, 64, passed away on Sunday, 19 February, at the end of a long and difficult stretch of medical issues that included beating the AL Amyloidosis disease twice, in 2016 and 2018, and then a heart transplant in January 2020 in St. Louis.
He will be remembered as a tremendous competitor, and while Nehemiah left for the NFL after the 1981 season, Foster continued to even greater heights, winning IAAF World Championship golds in 1983-87-91 when the event was only held every four years. He won the Olympic silver in 1984 in Los Angeles, the Goodwill Games in 1986 and 10 national titles: four outdoors and six indoors. He won the World Indoor 60 m hurdles in 1991.
He set world indoor records in the 50 m and 60 m hurdles, ranked no. 1 in the world in the 110 m hurdles five times and was in the world top-3 a sensational 13 times in 15 seasons between 1977 and 1991, finishing with a best of 13.03, still no. 32 ever. He finished 30-31-1 vs. Nehemiah.
Beyond his enormous speed and hurdling – impressive for someone 6-3 in height – “Fos” – as he was known – had an infectious smile and a big laugh and exuded a playful charm that quickly changed to a serious tone when he was in training or preparing for a race. His bookish appearance from the enormous glasses he wore in college changed to a smile and a thick moustache (and contact lenses) during his professional career.
His last race was an indoor hurdles event in 1995 and he become quickly involved in the management side of the sport, working with other athletes and giving them the benefit of his experience. Eventually, his health deteriorated.
He is survived by his three sons, Brandon, Bryce and Bradley, who worked diligently to help him through his final, difficult years. Said Bush in 1980, “I just can’t say enough about this young man.”
True then, true now, as we remember him. Rest in peace, Fos.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard ● The combined FIS Worlds in Freestyle and Snowboard are ongoing in Bakuriani (GEO), with no events on Monday, but the Snowboard Parallel Slalom scheduled for Tuesday. The events continue through 5 March.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● International Testing Agency ● The ITA announced last week that it had agreed to handle the testing program for the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB).
Formed in 2018, the ITA has quickly become – as the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency had hoped – the go-to solution for International Federations.
With the addition of the FIVB, the ITA is now handling part of all of the anti-doping program for 21 of the 28 Olympic-program federations; the only ones not using the ITA are the federations for athletics, football, modern pentathlon, rugby, sailing, shooting and tennis (7).
Among the winter-sport federations, the ITA is involved with bobsled & skeleton, luge, skating and ski mountaineering, but not with biathlon, curling, ice hockey and skiing & snowboard.
● Russia ● The transfer of Russian equestrians to Palestine continues as Maria Madenova, 26, was confirmed to have changed affiliation. A show jumper, she is the fourth Russian equestrian to change, with the FEI her registration was effective as of 31 January 2023.
● Athletics ● British sprinter C.J. Ujah was sanctioned for doping for 22 months from 6 August 2021, costing his team the Tokyo Olympic silver medal in the men’s 4×100 m.
Now, he stands to lose future funding unless he returns £10,665 (about $12,843 U.S. today) to UK Sport, which included in a statement:
“The panel found that Chijindu Ujah was in automatic breach of the eligibility policy owing to his previous admission of an anti-doping violation.
“In line with the available powers, the panel determined that Chijindu Ujah would be ineligible to receive public funding or publicly funded benefits with effect from 6 August 2021 to 6 June 2023.
“In addition, the panel noted that a previous eligibility panel met on 31 October 2019 and determined that Chijindu Ujah owed outstanding funds to UK Sport. The sum of £10,665 remains outstanding and until that sum is paid in full, he will remain ineligible to receive public funding.”
So, doping does not pay, at least in Britain.
● Badminton ● Canada swept aside the U.S., 3-0, in the finals of the Pan American Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico. However, both the U.S. and Canada are qualified for the BWF Sudirman Cup – the World Mixed Team Championships – in May.
Mexico defeated Brazil for the bronze medal, 3-2.
● Canoe/Kayak ● The second weekend of Canoe Slalom ICF ranking races in Penrith (AUS) continued with the Australian Open that concluded on Sunday.
The home team was dominant, winning three of the four Olympic-event races, with Tokyo Olympic champ Jessica Fox winning the C-1 event in 104.84 seconds, ahead of American teen Evy Leibfarth (19; 111.53 seconds) and France’s Marjorie Delassus (113.71).
Fox won the bronze in the K-1 final (105.22), behind France’s Camille Priget (104.58) and New Zealand’s Rio 2016 silver medalist Luuka Jones (104.88). Leibfarth was 10th after suffering 100 seconds in penalties (207.85); her time on the course was fourth-fastest.
Australians won both men’s events, with Timothy Anderson winning the K-1 in 94.01 and Tristan Carter beating Daniel Watkins in the C-1, 103.97 to 106.16.
● Football ● The FIFA Foundation is providing $1 million to aid earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria, not specifically for sports purposes, but “to purchase and distribute essential humanitarian items, as well as to provide emergency and temporary shelter and protection.”
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