★ The Sports Examiner: Chronicling the key competitive, economic and political forces shaping elite sport and the Olympic Movement.★
★ To get The Sports Examiner by e-mail: sign up here! ★
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. USA Boxing leaves IBA, so IBA asks for sanctions
2. Crouser and Healy take Drake Relays indoor shot events
3. Frazer’s three concerns over Russian and Belarusian re-entry
4. Russian return to fencing not going as hoped
5. Hirono stops H.R. 734 transgenders-in-sports ban in Senate
USA Boxing resigned from the International Boxing Association and announced its intention to join the new World Boxing federation now in formation. The IBA, in response, referred the federation for sanctions, but what can the IBA do now that USA Boxing has left? At the Drake Relays indoor shot put, American stars Ryan Crouser and Chase Ealey won easily, Crouser with a mighty throw of 73-6 3/4 in the first round. More of the remarks of British sports minister Lucy Frazer from Tuesday’s committee meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, including the three specific issues she wants the International Olympic Committee to take up immediately concerning the re-entry situation for Russian and Belarusian athletes. Meanwhile, Russian officials reacted angrily to the PACE committee hearing. And there are more complications. Even thought the International Fencing Federation (FIE) approved the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals, none will compete in this week’s Sabre Grand Prix in Seoul, as the federation has not yet certified any athletes as neutrals, to the frustration of the Russian Fencing Federation. In the U.S. Senate, a motion to quickly pass the House-approved bill prohibiting transgender women from competing on women’s teams was stopped by Democratic Senator Maizie Hirono of Hawaii, a strong indicator it will get nowhere due to Democratic control of the chamber.
● World Championships: Curling (World Mixed Doubles) = Ice Hockey
(men’s U-18 Worlds) ●
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (“fake” volunteers may try for disruption) = Athletics (2: Albanian officials suspended over fake wind reading; USTFCCA names 14 to Hall of Fame) = Football (UEFA Champions League final may come to U.S.) = Weightlifting (U.S. to skip PanAm U-15/U-17 Champs in view of Venezuelan unrest) = Wrestling (nine Russian dopers from 2012 suspended) ●
USA Boxing leaves IBA, so IBA asks for sanctions
“Later this morning, April 26, 2023, and after this communication is sent to you, USA Boxing will send a letter of termination to IBA’s Secretary General exercising USA Boxing’s right under Section 12 CESSATION (Termination) OF MEMBERSHIP. This means USA Boxing will no longer be a member of IBA effective immediately.
“USA Boxing will commit full support to World Boxing’s efforts to seek provisional recognition of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and as an International Federation (IF) for the sport of Olympic-style boxing, Paralympic Boxing (Adaptive) and Esport Boxing.
“On March 22, 2023, USA Boxing Board of Directors met in Executive Session and USA Boxing’s Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution approving these actions.”
That’s how a five-page letter from USA Boxing chief executive Mike McAtee began on Wednesday, formally severing U.S. national federation ties with the International Boxing Association and moving toward the new World Boxing federation.
McAtee’s letter included a 20-paragraph explanation of the reasons for leaving the IBA (formerly known as AIBA), repeating the well-known concerns voiced by the International Olympic Committee over IBA’s financing, governance and refereeing and judging, under current President Umar Kremlev (RUS). This included:
● “IBA has failed to follow its stated Mission, ‘…to promote, support and govern the sport of boxing worldwide in accordance with the requirements and spirit of the Olympic Charter…’; has disregarded its own Constitution, policies, and published processes; has openly defied the ruling of the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS); and has continuously failed to prioritize the needs of boxers;”
● “USA Boxing remains committed to the Olympic movement by following the principles of proper governance, promoting neutral third-party oversight of the field of play, condemning false and misleading information from IBA leadership, demanding transparent financial management, and following the IOC requirements that prohibit athletes whose National governments are under current IOC sanctions from competing under their national symbols, flags, anthems, and colors;”
● “USA Boxing is committed to work tirelessly with World Boxing, like-minded National Federations and worldwide Olympic-style boxing community to earn the privilege to be part of the Olympic Movement now and in the years to come.”
The new World Boxing federation has begun accepting membership applications; its interim board includes representatives from Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sweden and the U.S.
By removing itself from the IBA, U.S. boxers will suffer no penalty as regards qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, as the International Olympic Committee has taken over the process, as it did for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The first major qualifier for the Americas will be at the Pan American Games in Santiago (CHI) in October.
The IBA, of course, is not amused and, as expected, asked for sanctions against a federation which has left:
“The International Boxing Association (IBA) has filed an official complaint to the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit (BIIU) against individuals and entities involved in creation of a rogue boxing organization. The case was registered by the BIIU and will be reviewed as soon as possible.
“The IBA strongly condemns the efforts of individuals to damage the significant strides taken by the IBA over the last few years to secure boxers’ the best future possible. The International Boxing Association (IBA) reiterates that it will continue doing its utmost to protect the organization and all its member National Federations from any harm caused by individuals or entities within or outside of the IBA boxing family.”
Hard to see what recourse the IBA will have against an organization which is no longer involved with it.
Crouser and Healy take Drake Relays indoor shot events
Billed as an attempt by Olympic and World Champion Ryan Crouser to try and better his own world indoor record of 22.82 m (74-10 1/2) from 2021 at the Drake University Fieldhouse, he won easily at 22.42 m (73-6 3/4) on his first throw at the Drake Relays, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Not a record, but the no. 3 indoor performance of 2023, behind his world-leading 22.58 m (74-1) and 22.50 m (73-10) at the Millrose Games, setting aside his 23.38 m (76-8 1/2) unratified world record at the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho.
Crouser went 2.30 m (73-2) on his second throw, then a foul, 22.02 m (72-3) in round four and fouls in five and six. He was an easy winner over Tripp Piperi (21.45 m/70-4 1/2) and Nigeria’s Chuk Enekwechi, at 20.81 m (68-3 1/4).
The women’s shot saw American Maggie Ewen take the early lead at 19.45 m (63-9 3/4), just behind her indoor best, but passed in the fourth round by World Champion Chase Ealey of the U.S. at 19.54 m (64-1 1/4). That turned out to be the winner, but well behind her world-leading 20.03 m (65-8 3/4) from the Millrose Games.
Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd got out to a national indoor record of 19.52 m (63-0 1/2) in the final round to move up to second, with Ewen third.
The unique team event, which paired up a male and female putter and scored for combined distance, was won by Ewen and Piperi at 40.90 m (134-2), ahead of Jessica Woodard and Crouser (40.52 m/132-11) and Ealey and Enekwechi, who combined for 40.35 m (132-4).
There will be a second shot competition outdoors, on Saturday, with Crouser and Ealey featured once again.
Frazer’s three concerns over Russian and Belarusian re-entry
During her impassioned, pre-recorded address of eight and a half minutes during Tuesday’s meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media on “Excluding the athletes and officials of the Russian Federation and Belarus from participating in the international Olympic Movement,” British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer went in-depth on the International Olympic Committee’s 28 March recommendations for the re-entry of Russian and Belarusian athletes.
It’s worth reviewing, and somewhat surprising as she was in favor of Russian and Belarusian athlete re-entry, but only for true neutrals:
“The UK government has, from March 2022, been clear in our guidance to our own domestic sports bodies, that individual Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals on UK soil. As long as they are really neutral, and not representing their states in any way.
“And we have been equally clear on what that neutrality looks like. These athletes must not, under any circumstances, express support for the war or the Russian and Belarusian regimes. This extends to athlete funding, to athletes funded by their states to compete in events, or who are in receipt of funding or sponsorship directly aligned with their states, such as from state-controlled companies like Gazprom, cannot be considered to be neutral. Athletes directly funded by their states to compete in sports competitions who would not be present at those events without that support are de facto representatives of those states. They are only there by virtue of being funded by, trained by, selected by, supported by, the Russian state.
“And in that sense, from the UK perspective, both ourselves and the International Olympic Committee … are both seeking the same outcome, ensuring that Russian and Belarusian states cannot be represented in international sport.
“We have seen the IOC start to address some of the concerns our brief of 35 nations raised in February, and that is to be welcomed. For the IOC’s recommendations do not go far enough for us, and they leave far too many unanswered questions.
“Our deep reservations extend across three areas.
“Firstly, there is no reference anywhere in the recommendations to state funding, which, I have said, is a breach of neutrality. That issue is simply too fundamental to be ignored and it strikes at the very heart of what neutrality is.
“Second, the provisions set out on military and national security agency links are currently minimal, especially when we know that the links between state, military and sport in Russia and Belarus are root and branch. And if you think that sounds like an exaggeration, consider the fact that the two leading Russian sport societies – the Central Sports Club of the Army [CSKA] and the Dynamo Sports Society – were founded by the Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Internal Affairs, respectively.
“Athletes trained by those two societies consistently bring home by far the largest share of Russian Olympic medals. Many Russian athletes have been active in their support of Putin’s invasion.
“The limited focus of the IOC’s recommendations around people being currently contracted to the military, or national security agencies, really does not account for the intrinsic relationship between the military and security apparatus. Our concern also covers the potential for loopholes, with people being un-contracted before events and then re-contracted afterwards, to allow them to compete.
“In Belarus, the Lukashenko regime maintains close control of Belarusian sport, with the Belarus Olympic Committee and Presidential Sports Club – which provides direct financial support to Belarusian and other athletes – led by Lukashenko’s sons.
“The scenes at [the] pre-war rally at the Luzhniki Stadium [in Moscow] last year, where Putin used Olympic athletes to promote his aggression only served to underline this issue.
“Thirdly, we have ongoing, serious concerns about how these provisions will be implemented effectively, robustly and consistently. For example, there are issues around the definition of teams, and whether pairs of athletes could be allowed. This issue is one which needs further clarification.
“Let’s be clear on why this matters. You can’t compete in a team event in the Olympics other than by virtue of being the same nationality and representing your country. There are no options to pair up across country borders, so there can be no place for any teams of any numbers. We are already seeing a great deal of confusion across sport, as international federations take different approaches on the issue of allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes back into competition.
“And our fear is this will only escalate over the coming weeks, exacerbated by the current lack of clarity on future participation at Paris 2024 for those Russians and Belarusians, who may have qualified at events this summer.”
Numerous other speakers were not as generous and asked for a total ban.
In response to the PACE hearing, Russian officials reacted furiously, including:
● Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov said Wednesday:
“We consider this to be a gross violation of the Olympic Charter and demand that the IOC react promptly to statements such as those made by certain Western governments.
“We are faced with blatant interference in the autonomous status of sports, which must be safeguarded by the International Olympic Committee. We hope to hear the toughest possible reaction on behalf of the IOC regarding this issue.”
● Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko added:
“We are moving away from the hegemony of the West, where countries, at the behest of United States, can simply rewrite laws for themselves [and their own selfish interests], justifying any aggression. This is exactly the same thing that we see happening now in the world of sports.”
“Unfortunately, global sports organizations are not adhering anymore to the fundamental principles of sports, which had been all about staying outside of politics and providing athletes with an equal playing field to let them demonstrate their personal best.
“But what do we see today? The International Olympic Committee issued a humiliating ultimatum to our athletes, as well as to the Belarusian Olympic team, stating that in order to participate in the Games we must actually betray our own Motherland, condemn it and reject it, and only then would we be allowed to participate, but only under a neutral flag and without national anthems being played.”
“We do not want this kind of Olympics.”
And there is pressure elsewhere in the government, with Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko telling Deputy Sports Minister Andrei Fedorov:
“Colleagues, somehow I want you to be more toothy, or something. They acted like fighters. It is impossible to give our athletes to be torn to pieces; it is generally a complete lawlessness that is happening in sports.”
Russian return to fencing not going as hoped
In early March, the International Fencing Federation (FIE) agreed, at an extraordinary, online Congress to allow the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals in a decision which has still not been publicly posted by the federation.
It was widely anticipated that the first appearance of Russian and Belarusian fencers could be in Seoul (KOR) for this weekend’s FIE Grand Prix in Sabre, the last Grand Prix this season in that discipline. But it hasn’t worked out that way.
Russian Fencing Federation Ilgar Mammadov expressed his frustration to the Russian news agency TASS thus:
“We will not be participating in the Grand Prix in Seoul due to some bureaucratic snafus and foot-dragging on the part of the International Fencing Federation.
“We are sending a letter today requesting that all qualifying points of this tournament be cancelled since we are unable to take part in it.
“We did everything in due time, as they had instructed us previously. We repeatedly warned them, however, that it would be impossible for us to participate if they continued to drag the process out.
“We were assured, however, that everything was all right, that we should not worry and that we would be eligible by the deadline. However, we are now seeing the exact opposite result.”
Beyond Seoul is the 5-7 May Grand Prix in Epee, scheduled for Cali, Colombia; no word yet on whether Russian or Belarusian fencers will be able to compete there.
Hirono stops H.R. 734 transgenders-in-sports ban in Senate
After the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023” passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week on a 219-203 party-line vote, the measure was sent to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and came to the floor on Wednesday.
Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), who coached girls’ basketball early in his career before moving on to college football, asked for unanimous consent on the Senate floor to pass the bill without a roll-call vote. He noted:
“A few weeks ago, on Good Friday of all days, Joe Biden’s Department of Education issued a new rule completely reinterpreting Title IX. Biden’s rule says schools cannot ban boys from participating in women’s sports or else they’ll lose their funding.
“That means teachers and coaches will have to begin opening their girls’ and women’s teams, fields and locker rooms to biological males. It’s unfair, it’s unsafe and it’s downright wrong. To be honest, it’s moronic.“
An objection was raised by second-term Senator Maizie Hirono (D-Hawaii), meaning the bill was pulled from the floor and will now have to go through the regular Senate process. Hirono said:
“We shouldn’t be banning anyone from playing sports, we should be fighting the discrimination that all women and girls – trans, cis or otherwise – continue to face athletics, in the classroom and in the workplace. For these reasons, I object.”
Fox News reported, “That objection is a sign Senate Democrats will never consider the bill and will not schedule it at all for debate in the upper chamber.”
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Curling ● The 15th WCF World Mixed Doubles Championship is ongoing in Gangneung (KOR), still in round-robin play in both Groups A and B.
Each group has 10 teams and with 1-2 games left for most teams, Estonia and Canada are leading Group A at 7-1 and defending champions Jennifer Dodds and Bruce Mouat at 6-2.
In Group B, Japan is 7-0 with the U.S. pair of Cory Thiesse and Korey Dropkin at 6-1, and Norway and the Swiss at 5-2. The top three teams in each group will advance to the playoffs, starting on Friday (28th). The championship match is on Saturday (29th).
● Ice Hockey ● The IIHF men’s World U-18 Championship finished pool play on Tuesday in Switzerland, with the U.S. men undefeated and top-seeded in the playoffs that begin on Thursday.
Defending champion Sweden won Group A at 4-0, with Canada at 3-1; the Swedes compiled a glossy goals-against mark of 18-3. The American men, runner-ups in 2022, won their four games in Group B, outscoring their opponents by 37-6 (7-1, 12-1, 8-4, 10-0). Finland was second at 3-1.
In the quarterfinals, Sweden will face Latvia and Canada will play Switzerland in the top half of the bracket. The U.S. will play the Czech Republic and Finland and Slovakia are matched in the bottom half.
The semifinals come on Saturday and the medal matches on Sunday (30th).
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● Reuters reported on an in-development plan to have protesters accepted as Paris 2024 volunteers and then try and disrupt the Games.
The concept, called Saccage 2024 or “Destruction 2024,” has been promoted on social media, but is only a concept so far as the Paris organizing committee has not yet selected its volunteer staff members yet. About 45,000 are expected to be utilized in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Political unrest in France has risen since the Macron government pushed through a change in the French retirement age from 62 to 64 on 15 April in view of declining funds to pay retirement benefits.
● Athletics ● The Athletics Integrity Unit imposed multi-year sanctions on President Gjergj Ruli and General Secretary Nikolin Dionisi of the Albanian Athletics Federation for falsifying a result that helped one of its athletes to be selected for the Tokyo Games.
Long jumper Izmir Smajlaj, the 2017 European Indoor Champion, was credited with a lifetime best and national record of 8.16 m (26-9 1/4 with +1.7 m/s wind) in Tirana (ALB) on 8 May 2021. This performance, which ranked 23rd on the world outdoor list for 20-21, helped him be selected for a “universality place” in Tokyo, where he finished 18th in qualifying. Per the AIU:
“The AIU had alleged that Ruli, Dionisi and Smajlaj conspired together and submitted falsified wind measurement readings relating to the Competition to World Athletics, and when requested for proof of wind measurement equipment being used at the competition, also submitted a falsified photograph to the AIU. The falsified photo showed Smajlaj standing at the long jump track in front of wind measuring equipment but Ruli, Dionisi and Smajlaj all ultimately admitted there was in fact no wind measuring equipment at the relevant Competition and that this photo was taken on a different day.”
Ruli was banned five years and Dionisi for four, but Smajlaj was apparently not involved in the conspiracy and his provisional suspension has been lifted. Now 30, he has not competed since March of 2022.
The U.S. Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced its Collegiate Hall of Fame inductees for 2023, with 14 athletes who won a total of 70 national collegiate championships, set 39 world records as collegians and claimed a career total of 14 Olympic medals:
● Dyrol Burleson (Oregon, 1959-1962)
● Michael Carter (SMU, 1980-1984)
● Joetta Clark (Tennessee, 1981-1984)
● Michael Conley (Arkansas, 1982-1985)
● Sheila Hudson (California, 1986-1990)
● Holli Hyche (Indiana State, 1991-1994)
● Edwin Moses (Morehouse, 1974-1977)
● Renaldo Nehemiah (Maryland, 1978-1979)
● Sonia O’Sullivan (Villanova, 1988-1991)
● Julie Shea (Northy Carolina State, 1978-1981)
● Seilala Sua (UCLA, 1997-2000)
● John Thomas (Boston University, 1959-1962)
● Wyomia Tyus (Tennessee State, 1964-1967)
● Dave Wottle (Bowling Green, 1969-1973)
The Olympic medal winners include Carter (1984 shot put silver), Conley (1984 triple jump silver, 1992 gold), Moses (1976-84 400 m hurdles golds, 1988 bronze), O’Sullivan (2000 5,000 m silver for Ireland), Thomas (1960 high jump bronze, 1964 silver), Tyus (1964-68 100 m golds, 1964 4×100 silver, 1968 4×100 gold), and Wottle (1972 800 m gold).
The Collegiate Track & Field Hall of Fame was established in 2022. The 2023 class will be inducted on 14 September at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Oregon.
● Football ● UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin (SLO) said on Tuesday’s “Men in Blazers” podcast that a Champions League final in the U.S. might be coming:
“It’s possible. We started to discuss about that but then one year it was the World Cup, ‘24 is Euro, this year is Istanbul, ’24 is London and ’25 is Munich and after that, let’s see.
“Football is extremely popular in [the] United States these days. Americans are willing to pay for best and nothing for the less. So they will follow European football as basketball lovers in Europe follow NBA.
“It’s a very important promising market for the future. The thing is that we are selling rights very well. Sponsorship is so-so for now from the U.S., but [in the US] commercialization is completely different than in Europe. They [Americans] are much more talented for that than us [Europeans].”
● Weightlifting ● USA Weightlifting issued a depressing notice last week (19th) concerning its decision not to send teams to the Pan American U-15 and U-17 Championships:
“After careful consideration USA Weightlifting announced today it will not send a delegation to the 2023 U17/U15 Pan American Youth Championships scheduled for August 12-17 because of safety concerns in the host city of Caracas, Venezuela.
“USA Weightlifting regularly monitors the safety and security of its destinations as part of its high-performance operations, and the current situation in Venezuela raises significant concerns.
“The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 (Do Not Travel) Warning for Venezuela due to the high risk of violent and serious crimes, terrorism, kidnapping, and wrongful detention of U.S. nationals.
“Furthermore, the U.S. government warns of shortages of food, electricity, water, and medicines in Venezuela.”
USA Weightlifting chief executive Matt Sicchio added, “We are committed to the safety and security of our athletes and the team that supports them.
“This isn’t a decision we take lightly. While we are disappointed, nothing is more important than the safety of our athletes, coaches, and staff.”
● Wrestling ● The International Testing Agency posted sanctions for long-ago doping abuses by nine Russian wrestlers from samples taken in 2012! Eight had their results annulled from 20 November 2012 to 20 November 2014, and one from 6 April 2012 to 2 March 2022:
● Dariya Leksina: ineligible to 1 March 2023
● Elena Vostrikova: ineligible to 1 March 2023
● Margarita Fatkulina: ineligible to 18 November 2023
● Elena Getta: ineligible to 18 November 2023
● Anzhela Kataeva: ineligible to 18 November 2023
● Elena Kulikova: ineligible to 18 November 2023
● Alevtina Lisitsina: ineligible to 18 November 2023
● Anastasiya Shchavlinskaya: ineligible to 18 November 2023
● Aleksey Shchekov: ineligible to 1 March 2024
All but Shchekov admitted doping and received reduced bans; Shchekov’s ban included nullification of his results to 2 March 2022. The ITA explained:
“The cases are based on investigations conducted by WADA’s Intelligence & Investigations Department (WADA I&I) and by Professor Richard McLaren into allegations of systemic doping practices in Russian sport as well as Moscow Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) data retrieved by WADA I&I over time. The evidence was provided by WADA I&I to the ITA in 2021 and 2022 for further assessment. In particular, these investigations uncovered LIMS data indicative of the presence of banned substances in samples provided by the athletes in 2012.”
None of these wrestlers were Olympic medal winners in 2012 or World Championships or European Championships medalists in 2011-12-13-14-15.
For our updated, 651-event International Sports Calendar (no. 2) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!