The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: WADA calls for Valieva case decision, or it will take over; U.S. has only one sport that matters; Vancouver 2030 Winter bid implodes

WADA chief Witold Banka (POL), addressing the WADA Conference on Doping in Sport in 2019

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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡

1. WADA tells Russians to finish Valieva case or face direct appeal
2. “There is only one sport in the USA.”
3. Vancouver 2030 Winter bid collapses as province bows out
4. Griner’s sentence can be appealed again in six months
5. Russian athletes banned, officials still present in International Federations

The President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Pole Witold Banka, announced that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency had been informed that if it does not conclude the doping hearing of figure skater Kamila Valieva, WADA will take over the case, moving it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Following our story on how much larger the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup are than any other international sporting events, veteran Olympic writer Phil Hersh (USA) pointed to a compilation of the top 100 television programs in the U.S. in 2021: 95 were sports events, with 75 of those being NFL games. The Tokyo Olympics had 11 of the top 100. The province of British Columbia has decided not to support the Vancouver bid for the 2030 Olympic Games, effectively ending the effort and leaving the International Olympic Committee with a choice of Salt Lake City (USA) and Sapporo (JPN). Brittney Griner’s Russian lawyer says she can appeal her nine-year “drug smuggling” sentence once again in about six months. Although Russian athletes are banned, Russian sports officials are being heard in meetings of the International Federations of gymnastics and wrestling.

1.
WADA tells Russians to finish Valieva case or face direct appeal

In response to the announcement by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency that it would not announce the outcome of the review of the Kamila Valieva doping case, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency got irritated.

In a Thursday tweet, WADA President Witold Banka (POL) stated:

“WADA is concerned with the ongoing delay in Kamila Valieva’s case and has now put RUSADA under formal notice that unless the matter is resolved promptly it will use its right to take it directly to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

Valieva’s case has been in the news since February, when her positive doping test from December 2021 was revealed the day after the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games figure skating Team Event was concluded. The International Olympic Committee has held up the results and no medals were awarded; Russia, the U.S. and Japan were the top three teams on the ice, with Canada fourth.

Section 13.3 of the World Anti-Doping Code provides:

“Where, in a particular case, an Anti-Doping Organization fails to render a decision with respect to whether an antidoping rule violation was committed within a reasonable deadline set by WADA, WADA may elect to appeal directly to [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] as if the Anti-Doping Organization had rendered a decision finding no anti-doping rule violation.”

RUSADA announced on 21 September that its inquiry into the Valieva case had been completed and that a hearing would take place with the independent RUSADA Disciplinary Committee on the case. So far, nothing.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER), in a Thursday interview with the Spanish newspaper Marca, joined the call for a conclusion at RUSADA:

“Already in Beijing we clearly showed our position by appealing to the [Court of Arbitration for Sport] together with the World Anti-Doping Agency after the RUSADA decision was known. We lost, and now the proceedings are following WADA’s rules of confidentiality (being a minor she is protected by the Code). Although RUSADA’s position is to remain silent until there is a final verdict, WADA and the IOC can appeal the outcome.

“This would be the legal side. But in terms of transparency, we join WADA in asking RUSADA to make the data public to give everyone more credibility in this procedure.”

In response, Viktoria Loginova, the head of RUSADA, told the Russian news agency TASS:

“The process of processing the results in this case, as well as in all other cases that are under the jurisdiction of RUSADA, is carried out in strict compliance with Russian and international anti-doping standards.

“Due to the dissemination of false information in the press and a large number of media requests for comment, on October 21, RUSADA issued an official statement that it did not intend to voice details on this case and answer questions about the hearings. In accordance with the standards, the process from the very beginning should have be confidential. The decision to publicly disclose the data on the case after the final decision is made remains with RUSADA in accordance with paragraph 17.3.7 of the All-Russian Anti-Doping Rules.”

2.
“There is only one sport in the USA.”

Further to Thursday’s Lane One comment on how the two biggest sports events in the world are the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup was an observation by Phil Hersh, the long-time Olympic writer for the Chicago Tribune, who continues to write on figure skating and other sports.

“There is only one sport in the USA.”

And that would be NFL Football, as shown by a Sports Business Journal story from 1 October that showed that in 2021, 95 of the top 100 shows on television – over-the-air or cable – were sports events and 75 were NFL games. The top 100 included:

● 75 NFL games;
● 11 Tokyo Olympic shows;
● 7 college football games;
● 2 NCAA basketball tournament games;
● 2 political events (inauguration, State of the Union);
● 2 entertainment shows (The Equalizer, Oprah with Meghan & Harry);
● 1 parade (Macy’s Thanksgiving Day).

The NFL had nine of the top 10 (six were playoff games), 18 of the top 20 and 41 of the top 50. The top Olympic broadcasts from Tokyo came in at nos. 41 and 43, with the next highest at 62nd.

The SBJ commentary noted that the sports domination – 95 of the top 100 – is up from 92 in 2019 and 75 in 2020, when political programming was strong in a U.S. election year.

3.
Vancouver 2030 Winter bid collapses as province bows out

“For more than a year, the Province has engaged in evaluating a potential bid for B.C. to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

“I know that the prospect of hosting these Games is exciting to athletes and sports fans. However, the Province has the responsibility to weigh the benefits with the costs and possible risks of the project. There are billions of dollars in direct costs, and potential guarantee and indemnity liability risks on this project that could jeopardize our government’s ability to address pressures facing British Columbians right now. Based on careful consideration, the Province is declining to support a bid.”

That’s from a statement by British Columbia Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Lisa Beare on Thursday, vaporizing the already-behind, 2010 host Vancouver bid for a second Olympic Winter Games in 2030. A clear choice was made:

“Planning and hosting an event of this magnitude requires significant attention and resources. We have existing commitments to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the 2025 Invictus Games. These world-class events will bring the international spotlight to British Columbia, as well as economic benefits to support the province’s tourism-sector recovery for the next decade and beyond.

“Our government is focused on expanding the services British Columbians need, while building a more secure future. While there are many competing priorities and challenges, we are putting people first by focusing on the cost of living, health care, housing, public safety and building a strong work force.”

Canada-based GamesBids.com noted that “Without the support of the Province potential federal funding will not be activated, making the project impossible.”

The Vancouver bid was well behind the bid preparations from 2002 host Salt Lake City (USA) and 1972 host Sapporo (JPN), which appear to be the IOC’s actual choices for 2030. The IOC confirmed last week that it still expects to target one potential host by the end of the year and complete the process with a formal selection at its 140th Session in India in October of 2023.

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee has said that it would prefer a 2034 slot for Salt Lake City, in part due to today’s challenging economic conditions and the back-to-back hosting with Los Angeles in 2028. But it has also said it would accept 2030, and the folks in Salt Lake City appear eager to get the Winter Games back sooner rather than later.

Sapporo has been touted as a favorite after the Japanese staged a postponed 2020 Olympic Games in 2021. However, the interest in the 2030 Winter Games in Japan itself has been lukewarm and the expanding Tokyo 2020 sponsorship scandal is not helping.

4.
Griner’s sentence can be appealed again in six months

Two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist Brittney Griner’s Russian attorney, Alexander Boykov, said on Wednesday that a petition to the Court of Appeal can be filed against her sentence of nine years for “drug smuggling.”

“We have six months to file an appeal,” said Boykov. “In practice, it usually takes three months from the time [the complaint] is filed until it’s heard.”

A TASS report specified that Griner pled guilty to charges under Part 1 of Article 228 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code for “illegal acquisition, storage, transportation of drugs without intent to sell” and Part 2 of Article 229.1 for “smuggling of drugs in a significant amount” in February when she arrived at the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow

Griner’s appeal of 25 October was turned down; she has been detained since mid-February. The U.S. State Department considers Griner “unlawfully detained” and the WNBA Players Association called her a “hostage.”

5.
Russian athletes banned, officials still present
in International Federations

Although its athletes are banned from international competitions, Russian sports officials continue to be heard at the International Federation level, following the IOC’s protocol which has maintained the status of their members.

In gymnastics, seven delegations have announced they will not attend November’s FIG Congreess due to the presence of Russian and Belarusian officials. FIG President Morinari Watanabe (JPN) maintains they should be heard:

“As for the officials from Russia and Belarus, the FIG decided not to exclude them.

“We as an international federation had to do exactly that. When a representative of this or that country is elected as a member of an international organization, his nationality should take a back seat, and he himself becomes, in fact, a neutral person. But if these principles are not adhered to, then international federations cannot fully exist.

“That is why the U.N. and the IOC have not excluded Russia and Belarus from their ranks. International federations should make efforts to maintain relations, not to break them. The FIG will not only explain its position to colleagues from Russia and Belarus, but should listen to their opinion itself. After the war we must again become a team, otherwise we will not be able to create a bright future.”

In wrestling, Russian federation chief Mikhail Mamiashvili spoke to the United World Wrestling Bureau concerning the ban and told TASS (Deepl.com online translation):

“[UWW President Nenad] Lalovic [SRB] voiced at a meeting of the organization’s bureau that events on admission are not developing in the way we would all like, but things change in life.

“We have voiced our position; it is not unreasonable to recall that in none of the conflicts that took place on our planet, no sanctions were applied to any of the countries, including the initiators, participants. It never occurred to anyone – not Iraq, not Iran, not Libya, not Yugoslavia – to take the initiative to keep athletes out. There were radical outrages of the powers that be, but it never occurred to anyone to take the initiative to suspend the athletes.

“Everything is politicized and depends on the IOC, on a purely political whim. We live in the conditions we are in. There are no other thoughts except that we are with our country and president. I hope that the same position is held by all industries that are in a similar situation, the unanimous position is that the imposed restrictions are extremely unfair.”

≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡

● Football ● The FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup Final is set for Sunday, with Colombia and Spain meeting for the championship and Nigeria facing Germany for the bronze medal.

A scoreless semifinal between Colombia and Nigeria was resolved in penalty kicks, with Colombia finally winning, 6-5. Spain defeated Germany, 1-0, in the other semi, on a goal in the 90th minute by Lucia Corrales.

● Gymnastics ● The 2022 FIG World Artistic Championships will commence in Liverpool (GBR) on Saturday (29th) with women’s team qualifying and run through the following Sunday.

The top three men’s and women’s teams will qualify for the Paris 2024 Games, with the U.S. fielding strong teams for both men and women. The team medal finals will be on 1 November for women and 2 November for men, followed by All-Around and apparatus competitions.

NBC’s Peacock streaming service will carry the medal sessions live; the only broadcast coverage will be an NBC highlights program on 5 November (Saturday).

● Shooting ● The ISSF World Championships in Rifle and Pistol concluded in Cairo (EGY), with German Olympic gold medalist Christian Reitz winning the men’s 25 m Center Fire Pistol event. Reitz won the 25 m Rapid Fire Pistol event in Rio and took bronze in Tokyo last year; he defeated Ruslan Lunev (AZE) in the final by 588-584.

The other finals were all for the 300 m Rifle, distance which last appeared on the Olympic program in 1972. France’s Emilien Chassat won the 300 m/3 Positions gold for men (592) and Norway’s Jeanette Hegg Duestad (588) took the women’s title. Both won a second gold with France taking the men’s team event and Norway winning for the women. In the Mixed Team final, Poland was a 17-3 winner over Finland.

Norway’s Simon Claussen took the win in the 300 m Rifle/Prone Position (599/600!) and Swiss Anja Senti won the women’s gold, also hitting 599/600. Wow! Denmark took the men’s team title and Norway won the women’s team, with Duestad getting a third gold.

Duestad got a fourth gold, with Claussen, in the 300 m Rifle/Prone Mixed Team event, defeating Senti and Pascal Bachmann (SUI), 17-9.

Denmark’s Steffen Olsen won the 300 m Standard Rifle Open over Claussen, 591-586, with American Tim Sherry third (586).

≡ PANORAMA ≡

● Errata ● Two corrections on our Wednesday report of ex-IOC Marketing Director Michael Payne’s comments on the future of the Olympic Games on television. He was the head of marketing for the IOC from 1988-2004 (not 1998-2004 as initially shown) and is now an Irish, rather than British, citizen.

● Olympic Games 2036 ● Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard and Mexican Olympic Committee President Mari Jose Alcala announced Wednesday that Mexico has entered into a dialogue with the IOC concerning the Olympic Games of 2036 or 2040.

Mexico City hosted the 1968 Olympic Games, and will be a FIFA World Cup host with Canada and the U.S. in 2026. It hosted the Pan American Games in Mexico City in 1955 and 1975 and in Guadalajara in 2011.

● International Olympic Committee ● Buried inside the lengthy weekly Highlights post from the IOC for 26 October was:

“Back in Lausanne, on 23 October the IOC President [Thomas Bach] attended the finish of the 2022 Lausanne Marathon and participated in the 10km.”

The German-born Bach, 68, participated in the 10 km walk event and finished in 1:11:51.6. He can now truly say that he has “walked the walk.”

● Russia ● The IOC’s sanctions against Russia and Belarus are taking on a new dimension as the qualification competitions for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games get going.

Russia was not included in the list of teams eligible for the first qualifying tournament, to be held in Japan next fall (30 September-8 October for men, 16-24 September for women). Three tournaments will be held in all, to qualify six teams – two each – to go along with host France and five teams to be selected from the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) world rankings as of June 2024.

The All-Russian Volleyball Federation said in a statement:

“In accordance with the Olympic selection regulations, the list of qualifying participants was formed according to the world ranking as of mid-October 2022.

“And at the moment, Russia is suspended from participation in official international competitions, and qualification will begin at the end of September 2023. If the temporary suspension from Russia is lifted, then it is likely that our teams can be admitted to the selection.”

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin reacted predictably:

“In recent years, we have repeatedly encountered discrimination in sports, which fundamentally destroys the Olympic ideals, absolutely contradicts sports principles, deprives fans from all over the world from watching the performances of the strongest. It is a pity that the political component is more important than a beautiful and fair game.

“The qualifying tournament will lose a lot, because our volleyball teams are consistently at the top of international rankings, and their games attract the interest of sports fans around the world. We do not lose hope for the admission of Russian teams to the Olympic Games in accordance with the FIVB rating. The essence of the Olympic Games is equal rights for all participants. And we hope that this will be the case.”

● Football ● Australia’s men’s team, getting ready to compete in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, posted a video that seeks to “embed reforms and establish a lasting legacy in Qatar.”

Midfielder Jackson Irvine said, “This must include establishing a migrants resource centre, effective remedy for those who have been denied their rights and the decriminalisation of all same-sex relationships.

“These are the basic rights that should be afforded to all and will ensure continued progress in Qatar.”

Football Australia posted a statement that included:

“We acknowledge the significant progress and legislative reforms have occurred in Qatar over recent years to recognise and protect the rights of workers, and we encourage all stakeholders to continue this path to reform.

“However, we have also learned that the tournament has been associated with suffering for some migrant workers and their families. …

“With this in mind, Football Australia, together with the Socceroos and Professional Footballers Australia, support the establishment of a Migrant Workers Centre that will continue to represent the rights of the workers beyond December 2022. …

“As the most multicultural, diverse, and inclusive sport in our country, we believe everyone should be able to feel safe and be their true authentic selves. Whilst we acknowledge the highest levels of assurances given by HH Amir of Qatar and the President of FIFA that LGBTI+ fans will be safely welcomed in Qatar, we hope that this openness can continue beyond the tournament.”

● Modern Pentathlon ● The tug-of-war between the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Modene (UIPM) and the Pentathlon United athlete group continues unabated:

● On 17 October, a reply from UIPM Secretary General Shiny Fang (CHN) to Pent United on arranging a meeting noted that “In normal circumstances, please understand that International Federations with a democratic structure would not be obliged to communicate with unofficial organizations, let alone arrange a physical meeting.”

She also explained that UIPM President Klaus Schormann (GER) cannot meet with the group until after the upcoming UIPM Congress on 12-13 November. And:

“[W]e are sorry if some of your representatives have felt ignored, denied, insulted or threatened (your words) at any point during the New Pentathlon Discipline process. This was never our intention.

“We have more than once provided information to you throughout the process and we invited you to our Athletes Meeting in Ankara and subsequent Test Events – where you would have had the opportunity to talk to the UIPM President – despite the fact that your approach towards UIPM has been continuously hostile from day one.”

The Pent United reply on 26 October stated disappointment that Schormann could not meet, and “We can only conclude that President Schormann does not feel it a sufficient priority to listen to the views of athletes that might differ from his own.”

● Meanwhile, the UIPM hosted a news conference on 25 October in Monaco, with athletes in favor of the change to Obstacle Course Racing, including Tokyo silver medalist Ahmed Elgendy (EGY), fourth-placer Jinhwa Jung (KOR) and 2005 and 2007 World Champion Yasser Hefny (EGY). Rio 2016 silver medalist Elodie Clouvel (FRA) said in a statement:

“I am talking about ‘evolution’ and not ‘change’ because we are looking at a new discipline which will be more dynamic, more inclusive, more current. All of that summarises the DNA of our sport: the Modern Pentathlon.”

Hefny said, “I can tell you that this new discipline is going to change our sport forever. For athletes, it is an exciting new challenge that will make the sport more accessible around the world. For fans, especially young fans, it will make the sport a lot more appealing. For the Olympic Games, this will attract a whole new audience and add value to the Games.”

● Pent United followed up with an 18-part reply on Twitter, noting it has been asking for a meeting with the UIPM leadership for more than a year, and calling the UIPM’s news conference “a social media campaign of pictures and statements from a small handful of athletes who are actually aligned with UIPM, primarily UIPM’s Ath Comm, attempting to create a perception of athlete support.”

None of the back-and-forth actually addresses how a change to obstacle or retaining riding will meet the IOC’s issues for the sport, especially lowering costs and raising its profile with the public.

● Swimming ● A very large field is entered in the second leg of the FINA World Cup, to be held in Toronto from Friday through Sunday.

As expected, a large American contingent will be present, including a rare appearance by Freestyle superstar Katie Ledecky, making a rare appearance in short-course competition. She swam in 25-yard pools during her NCAA career at Stanford, and, according to SwimSwam.com, her only 25 m appearances came in 2013 and more recently in her one appearance in the International Swimming League in October 2019 (where she set the American Record in the 400 m Free).

She’s entered in the 200-400-1,500 m Freestyles and the 200-400 m Medleys, and she certainly could challenge some short-course records, including Thursday’s new mark in the 400 m Free by Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Bingjie Li:

World 400 m Free Record: 3:51.30, Bingjie Li (CHN), 2022
U.S. 400 m Free Record: 3:54.06, Ledecky, 2019

World 1,500 m Free Record: 15:18.01, Sarah Kohler (GER), 2019
U.S. 1,500 m Free Record: 15:32.90, Katie Ziegler, 2007

No U.S. television of this meet; coverage should be available on the FINA YouTube channel.

● X Games ● Private equity firm MSP Sports Capital purchased a majority stake in the X Games, created by ESPN in 1995 to showcase so-called “extreme sports” including BMX Freestyle, skateboarding and snowboard.

The event never turned into the mass-audience giant that ESPN had hoped for and the sale to MSP – with ESPN retaining a minority interest – is a play for a wider online audience. The events will continue to be shown on ESPN’s cable channels, but MSP will take over the streaming programming, which is where it sees growth.

The X Games has been a huge draw for many athletes, especially in winter sports, often more so than the FIS World Cup circuit in Freestyle and Snowboard. It will be fascinating to see if this continues under the new ownership.

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