Coronavirus and International Deaf Sport

Life for Deaf and hearing people has changed this year, the Coronavirus has taken away our plans and forced us to rethink what we are going to do in the future. One thing for sure is that we cannot go back to the way things were before, we have to change – many people are afraid of change, but change, we must.

Covid 19 Golbal
With the exception of Belarus, sport across the globe as been cancelled or postponed. On the whole, people who play sport are optimists. A few weeks ago, very few events were cancelled, preferring to postpone and play again as soon as possible. But now, we have seen how dangerous Covid-19 is and governments and international sports federations are having a rethink. It is looking increasingly likely that no international sports events will take place in 2020.
This week, Yoshiro Mori, the former prime minister of Japan and now president of the Tokyo Olympic Committee has suggested that if a vaccine is not ready for the Olympics in 2021, then the event should be cancelled.

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Yoshiro Mori (Source: daily Mail)

Argentina, France, Ghana and Holland have cancelled their 2019/2020 Soccer Championships and the UK Premier League is thinking about it. France’s policies also put the postponement of the Tour de France in jeopardy, the UCI meets this week. The Ryder Cup could be postponed to 2021 and played without spectators.
What should Deaf sport do?
Back in March, many organisers of international Deaf sports events were optimistic and postponed events to late summer or later in 2020, but is this possible? The World Deaf Golf Championships of 2020 has been postponed, new dates to be discussed. ICSD wants to carry on and go to Brazil for the Deaflympics in 2021.
Can we honestly expect Brazil to host a Deaflympics in 2021? There is no strategy from ICSD, no funding in place. The Brazilian President has put his people at risk, calling Covi-19 a “measly cold”.
ICSD is in a very weak position internationally with the IOC and IPC. When the ICSD president was placed under house arrest in 2018, all funding taps from the IOC to ICSD were turned off. Even now after two interim presidents have been appointed, the funds are still withdrawn.
Russia has been banned from international sport, yet ICSD have stood by its Executive Director Dimitry Rebrov and continued to allow the Russian to run its affairs despite the fact that he has previously been found guilty of falsifying audiograms. Despite all of this, ICSD carries on as normal with no audited accounts, so IOC continues to withhold funds.
The IOC has asked ICSD to move forward and come up with Deaf Sport Reform, first developed by President Donalda Ammons and then restructured by President Crowley with a unanimous Congress approval to go ahead in 2013. Has ICSD gone to sleep, does it think it is immune from sports politics or is it just afraid of change?
International Deaf sport is on a ventilator, it may not survive.

What should deaf sport do?

Should ICSD comply with WADA regulations?

On December 9th 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency Executive Board will meet in Paris to decide whether or not to ban Russia from the global sporting world for four years. The ban not only covers Russian athletes but also events hosted by Russia and any officials who currently sit on governing bodies of sport.

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The WADA Intelligence and Investigations department has a 26-page report that accuses RUSADA (Russian Anti-Doping Agency) of removing positive samples from its database as well as deleting and/or altering other files dating back to 2015. The report also alleges that fabricated evidence was planted in the database to discredit Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory who now lives in the USA under a witness protection programme.

If the ban goes ahead on 9th December, the recommendations include:

  1. No Russian Government officials or representatives to sit as members of boards or committees on any code-compliant organisations (such as Olympic sports, FIFA etc)

2. Russian government officials or representatives may not participate or attend and major sports events, including Youth Winter games, Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

3. Russia to be prevented from hosting any major international sports events during the four year ban

4. With draw events already planned unless it is legally or impractical to do so

5. Russian flag to be banned from all major events

6. No senior officials (President, Secretary General and CEO) of the Russian Olympic Committee or the Russian Paralympic Committee be allowed to attend any major sporting event; and

7. Russian athletes only allowed to participate if they can prove they are not implicated in any way by the non-compliance findings.

All of the above information from

There are voices within the Deaflympic Movement who also want to see ICSD comply with this ban because they are a WADA-compliant organisation. The ICSD CEO, Dimitry Rebrov is Russian.

Russian officials have been speaking out against the WADA recommendations and it is expected that some within ICSD will also argue that Russian athletes and officials have not been involved in doping activities.

One of the reasons WADA is recommending such a ban is because of the fraudulent behaviour of Russian officials towards its own athletes and officials, fabricating evidence to try and discredit people. This blog demonstrated in April 2015 that the Russian Committee of Deaf Sport is also guilty of such behaviour, when the current ICSD CEO Dimitry Rebrov falsified the Audiogram of one of its own wrestlers Eugene Golovanov to get him banned from European competitions – this case went to court in Moscow, who found Rebrov guilty and later his appeal was overruled by the Court of Appeal. He remains guilty of conspiracy to fraud audiograms, the fundamental basis of classifying Deaflympians is their audiograms.

Dimitry Rebrov

Dimitry Rebrov, found guilty of falsifying Audiograms

If this ban does come into effect on 9th December, it will be three days before the start of the ICSD Winter Deaflympics in Italy where ICSD Congress will be overseen by its Board and Russian CEO. It is unlikely that the Russians will be banned from this Congress or the events themselves because the ban would have come in at very short notice. But what about the next four years?

What will ICSD do next ? What decisions will ICSD members make next month?

Here are some comments from Facebook:

“ICSD really has to stand and be counted for the rest of our Deaf athletes worldwide.” Craig Crowley, ICSD President 2009 – 2013. President UK Deaf Sport.

“Sad for Russian athletes” Greg Ophel, Deaflympian, Volleyball

“It’s all money, money, money….” Graham Banks

“And what about the Chinese?” Mark John Obrien

 

 

Will Russians be banned from the 2017 Deaflympics?

This afternoon, the International Paralympic Committee banned the entire Russian team from competing in next month’s Paralympic Games in Rio.

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Sir Philip Craven (photo sportanddev.org)

Sir Philip Craven, IPC President said: “Tragically this situation is not about athletes cheating a system, but about a State-run system that is cheating the athletes. The doping culture that is polluting  Russian sport stems from the Russian government and has now been uncovered in not one but two independent reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.” Full statement

Will the International Committee of Sport for the Deaf follow suit and make a decision to exclude Russian athletes from competing at the 2017 Deaflympics in Turkey next summer?

On 25th July, we commented on the need for ICSD to consider and follow actions taken by others in the IOC family. Whilst many would consider the IOC decision making not robust enough to stem doping, we feel that the IPC decision to enforce a blanket ban on the Russian team to be the right action to take.

The ICSD does not have the finances and resources in place to enforce anti-doping and therefore it is highly likely that cheating is taking place at the Deaflympics. The Russian Deaflympic officials are not shy about cheating, they have been taken to court for falsifying an audiogram of one of their wrestlers. They cannot be trusted with the task of Executive control of the ICSD and the Deaflympic Games.

As we reported on 27th April this year, the ICSD has not published the names of Deaf athletes who returned positive doping tests on its website. This is the responsibility of the Chief Executive – a Russian, most of the athletes who would be on this list are – Russian.

It is now time for the ICSD Board to take back control of the Deaflympic movement, suspend its President Valery Rukhledev and Dimitry Rebrov, its Chief Executive at the very least and restore some confidence amongst its membership.

Two Big Ears calls upon representatives of ICSD national federations to unite and demand that the ICSD Board take action. Do not allow the Russians to ignore your concerns for a second time, do not let the Russians dismiss you so easily as they did last year.

 

 

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Doping in Deaf sport not transparent say critics.

According to an article in Parasport News, the International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (ICSD) who govern the Deaflympics have been substandard when it comes to reporting on doping violations by Deaf athletes.

The full article from Parasport can be read here.

ICSD rules say that when doping cheats are found out, the results will be advertised on the ICSD website – according to the Parasport article, this has never been done.

Since 1986, a total of 370 Paralympic, Deaflympic and disability sport cheats have been caught – but only 28 have been Deaf and all except two were discovered during the Summer and Winter Deaflympic Games.

The nationalities of the 28 athletes are 5 unknown, 1 German and 22 Russians. The ICSD has not published the names of these athletes, this breaches its own rules in article 14.4:

“The ICSD shall publish at least annually a general statistical report of its Doping Control; activities, with a copy provided to WADA. The ICSD may also publish reports showing the name of each athlete tested and the date of each testing.”

This makes it difficult for competition organisers in Deaf World Championships and regional championships to know who has been banned – because the names are not published according to article 14.4.

The greater concern is that doping is not carried out during World Championship and regional events – so it is likely that many more doping athletes are going undetected.

It is of no surprise that the IOC and other international sports bodies will not take Deaf sport seriously because this lack of transparency does not make officials feel confident about the reliability of Deaf sport to run its events to the highest standards.

It can be argued that of ICSD had done their job properly, delegates at the ICSD Congress in 2013 may not have elected the Russians to run their organisation if they knew that in 2009 and 2010 a total of 15 out of 16 athletes caught cheating were Russian.

This alarming lack of oversight on Doping Control means that the  ICSD Executive Committee has allowed Russian athletes to compete in recent Athletics events organised under IAAF rules despite a worldwide ban in the sport of Athletics. The ICSD Athlete Representative Dean Barton-Smith has had no reply from the ICSD to his written concerns about this.

The same goes for Audiogram cheating; event after being found guilty by a Russian court of law for falsifying audiograms, the ICSD Chief Executive still remains in post. Two Big ears has reported on this previously.

When will Deaf sport wake up and challenge the ICSD Executive about this ?

 

 

10 Reasons why Russia won the game.

Last Tuesday, ice hockey officials awarded a highly controversial last-second goal to Russia, which has most likely denied the Americans the opportunity to compete in the Deaflympic gold medal match today.

Rules of sport are always complicated and fraught with difficulty. But it s also the responsibility of competition organisers to ensure that the selection of tournament officials is done correctly in order to avoid any doubt when it comes to the interpretation of rules.

The controversial goal has been analysed from different angles by television and amateur video footage. The Americans submitted the initial protest within the 30-minute window. When the result came back still in favour of the goal, the Americans lodged an appeal – this too was overruled despite overwhelming evidence in favour of America.

You can see the video evidence for yourself here. Thanks to “Juciermk”

Two days ago, Two Big Ears consulted with their own contacts in Ice Hockey, who are independent from Deaf sport. Their conclusion is that the referee’s decision is final.

Now, normally, we would move on and chalk it all down to experience. But not on this occasion, because the Americans are now waking up and coming to terms with what it is really like to get into bed with the Russians. The official USA Winter Deaflympic news service believes “This event will most certainly result in continued discussions, and hopefully changes so that other teams so not suffer similar injustices in future events.”

Based on the evidence presented to us, the conclusion is that, as long as Russia is in charge of the Deaflympics, the ICSD will allow mismanagement to continue. Host nations will continue to select tournament officials that swing decision-making in their favour. The Russians are not stupid, but they are arrogant, and corrupt deep within their national psyche. Here are the ten reasons why Russia beat America 6-5 on Tuesday evening.

1. HOST NATION-BIAS

The Russian government has invested heavily into Deaf sport and the Deaflympics. On the one hand this is to be applauded, and puts other nations such as the USA and the UK to shame. However, they are a nation whose politics, economy and sport is so heavily entrenched in corruption that they should not have been allowed to host in the first place. The Russian Deaf Sport Federation (RDSF) did not pay the required $25,000 registration fee when originally applying to host the games, this action contributing to the fiscal mess that the ICSD now find themselves in. Approval was only given once RDSF’s own people had taken over the asylum.

2. THE ICSD ARE NOT IN CHARGE.

First of all, evidence strongly demonstrates that the ICSD have lost control of the 13th Winter Deaflympics and the Russians are taking every advantage possible to ensure they win. Whilst Two Big Ears applauds Russia for working in partnership with non-deaf people to host the games, they are seen by others to have taken advantage of the controversial last-second goal to ensure that a team of veteran ice hockey professionals are not defeated by a young and upcoming team of American youngsters.

Secondly, sportsMX TV reported that ICSD President Rukhledev was brought in to mediate between the Russians and the Americans over the goal controversy. By participating in this way, Rukhledev and demonstrated yet again his incompetency to lead the Deaflympic movement;

a) He is the President and therefore cannot be involved with any disputes – but he chose to ignore this and carry on anyway.

b) He is Russian, so how was he going to make himself impartial to any decision-making? Why did he not instruct his neutral Vice President to attend the meeting instead?

c) It was the responsibility of the ICSD TD to resolve the dispute, not the President.

3. THE PROTEST COMMITTEE IS BIASED

The ICSD regulations allow the host (The Organising Committee) to choose who takes control of each sport. In this case, the Russians have appointed three of their own countrymen headed by well-known skating coach. Given reason 1 and 2, it is not surprising that the last-second goal could have been voted 3-1 against. The American protest and subsequent appeal has so far failed to extract “… a clear explanation as to why the goal was counted…” (official US Deaflympic media)

4. RUSSIANS DON’T DO COMPROMISE

According to the USA Deaflympic news reports, there have now been several days since the controversial result was made for officials to have made a correction. Either to have the two teas plan an overtime period, or just agree to a 5-5 tie. Sorry guys, that isn’t going to happen. This is the Russians you are dealing with.

5. RUSSIANS DO CORRUPTION AND CHEATING – IT IS BUSINESS AS USUAL

The Russian Deaf Sports Federation has been found guilty by a court of Law of falsifying an athlete’s audiogram to discredit him. The ICSD Congress has voted to ignore this and carry on. This is normal behaviour from Russians when it comes to participating internationally in sport and foreign policy, as the next two reasons will show:

6. DOPING IN SPORT IS A RUSSIAN NORM

The IAAF is struggling to find real evidence of doping amongst the ranks of Russian athletics. Good luck, it does not have the resources against the Russian system. The same goes for the ICSD, and the audiogram ‘doping’. And;

7. RUSSIAN TACTIC: DENIAL, DENIAL, DENIAL

When Russia invaded the Ukraine, they denied accusations that they had sent in their own troops to take control. When they had control of the Crimea, they clarified that “volunteers” had crossed the border. When faced with the clear evidence of audiogram fraud, they have remained silent and taken advantage of ICSD amateurism and distrust amongst nations to shield themselves from having to come clean.

8. IF THE RUSSIAN’S DON’T LIKE YOU…

One day you will be minding your own business, crossing a bridge and you will get shot from behind.

9. RUSSIANS BLAME OTHER PEOPLE:

  • The invasion of the Ukraine was not their fault
  • Shooting political activists is not their fault
  • Campaigning to overrule the early cancelation of the 2011 Winter Deaflympics, and then blaming others when it all fell apart is not their fault.
  • Concerns about audiogram cheating is just ‘sour grapes’

10. RUSSIANS TAKE CREDIT WHERE IT IS NOT DUE:

  • Contemporary recognition from IOC is not down to Rukhledev, it is thanks to Crowley’s diplomacy (2009-2013)
  • The concept of the International Deaflympic Committee is not Rukhledev’s idea. It was created during Ammons’ residency (pre 2009).
  • Russians have not contributed any beneficial actions to safeguard ICSD or the Deaflympics.

The world should not be surprised then, that the Russians have never been given the opportunity to lead, in any shape or form, a multinational sport federation, commercial entity or geopolitical organisation that includes Western nations. The ICSD Presidency has been a gift to the Russians to practice their imperialism and anti-IOC agenda.

A pity then that Russia has not taken the greatest opportunity to demonstrate good practice by ensuring that the Protest Committee of the ICSD Deaflympic Ice Hockey tournament was multi-national. Something that was well within their means to achieve to ensure that Olympic-level sports governance is transparent. Instead, they have chosen to play the game their way and have done the Deaflympic movement a further disservice by creating further controversy.

 

Deaflympic Congress votes to ignore fraudulent behaviour of the Russians.

Last week, at the 45th Congress of the International Committee of Sport for the Deaf, a proposal to discuss concerns about the Russia Committee of Deaf Sport (RCDS) being found guilty (by a Russian Court of Law) of submitting fraudulent audiograms was turned down and effectively ignored.

When put to a vote, 33 delegates were in favour of action, 5 against and 12 abstained. The motion needed 41 votes to gain a majority of 75% to proceed in accordance with the ICSD Constitution.

Staff employed by the RCDS falsified audiograms in 2011 to discredit an athlete. They were found guilty in a Russian Court of Law and another Court also overturned their subsequent appeal in 2014. Dimitry Rebrov, the current Chief Executive Officer of the ICSD, submitted the audiogram and Valery Rukhledev, now President of ICSD, was President of RCDS at the time.

The act of RCDS officials submitting fraudulent audiograms is on a par with Olympic officials submitting fraudulent doping specimens or test results or Paralympic officers submitting fraudulent disability classification assessments.

This raises the question; Do the 12 national representatives at the ICSD Congress who abstained actually understand the implications of the case? Was something amiss in translation? Did the proposers allocate sufficient time to ensure that everyone had read or understood their concerns?

When random testing in carried out at the Deaflympics, athletes whose hearing loss does not meet the audiogram standards are dismissed from competitions immediately. Job done.

But when a national federation is found guilty by a Court of Law of deliberately submitting a false audiogram to discredit an athlete – nothing is done.

Something is not right.

ICSD Audiogram Cheating is a Disgrace

Deaf sports men and women and their public supporters have been contacting Two Big Ears to demonstrate their anger and concern at the news that International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (ICSD) employs staff who have been found guilty of falsifying audiograms. They have responded to the declaration from Deaflympic cyclist Tom Smith who has led the call for the Executive Board of ICSD to investigate and make changes to the ICSD leadership otherwise he will be boycotting the 2017 Summer Deaflympics.

Thousands of people around the globe have been following the story since it broke on the 23rd December here on Two Big Ears. Amongst these readers is Deaflympic swimmer Emily Noden who believes that the situation is “a disgrace because it strips deaf athletes of their reputations as honest sportsmen and women.” She has come out in support of the need for Deaf sport to come under the control of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in order that doping and audiogram regulations can be controlled at events like the European Deaf Swimming Championships where she competed recently “ the fact that there was no doping control meant I was at an unfair advantage knowing anyone there could have taken performance enhancing drugs and got away with it, making the sport potentially dishonest.”

A former Deaflympic swimmer, who remains anonymous suggests that it would be difficult to integrate deaf events into the Paralympics but does agree that the ICSD should be working closer in parallel with the IPC “to get back to better managed again.” With doping and audiogram control under independent bodies to oversee this work. The swimmer went on to say “It’s unfortunate that the ICSD Delegate voters went for Russian to be president of ICSD in 2013 who has now caused controversies to date. We in deaf sport will need to learn from mistakes and choose a proper and right people to sit on ICSD and a new president to manage, led and change where Craig Crowley have left off as he had done so much of the rebuilding work…” and that the ‘ill-advised’ delegates who voted not to re-elect Crowley in 2013 are “banging their head on the wall with their mistake.”

Verity Joyce who competed in the Deaf World Games (Deaflympics) in 1993 aged 12 can “certainly see advantages for being part of the para movement – funding being a big one, along with status and integrity.” Able to speak from previous experience of being part of a former Paralympic swimming set up “communication is key and no other athlete was isolated to the same level as I was in terms of information and inclusion. If we are to become a part of the para movement, it will be a huge culture shock to them, the media and so on. Also we need to fight for communication inclusion on a whole new level, which in some ways will be a shame as it will detract from the sport.”

In reply to Joyce, Emily Nolan said “The IPC, with their millions of pounds of funding they have received in recent years would certainly not have any problems in funding interpreters”.

Members of the Deaf community, like David Jackson (married to the Deaf Culture and Sign Language advocate Eva Feilding-Jackson) who supports and enjoys watching Deaf sport are coming round to the idea of deaf people competing in the Paralympics and argues that Deaf sport should accept the fact that logistics and IOC regulations will mean that deaf athletes will be subject to the limitation of athlete numbers as it is for all disability classifications because “It is the Deaf Awareness aspect that will definitely arise from seeing Deaf athletes on TV and in newspapers. That can certainly be a good thing for us. We need to force the ICSD do accede to this- it seems to me that some of the ICSD members are from countries where there is a clout to stop us being part of the Para’s movement. If that is the case, it is a very negative attitude that we will suffer for years to come.”

The ICSD (International Committee of Sport for the Deaf) have not commented publicly on the issue of audiogram cheating but reliable sources have informed us at Two Big Ears that the Executive has “taken notice” of the story being released.

3,000 viewers in 59 countries are paying attention to this story and expect to hear some answers from ICSD.

The Russian-led ICSD who control regulations for the Summer and Winter Deaflympics and oversee regional federations around the globe will be holding their next (45th) Congress at the end of March during the 15th Winter Deaflympics taking place in the winter sports city of Khanty-Mansiysk – in one of the most isolated and little known regions of Russia. Congress information packages have ben sent out to national delegates and ICSD president Rukhledev said ‘The more of you are able to come, then the more we are able to discuss the many pending items on the agenda that requires approval.”

Guy Finney of the UK deaf athletics team wants the 45th Congress delegates to challenge ICSD on taking remedial action over false audiograms – Two Big Ears wants to know who will be brave enough to make the long trek to Khanty-Mansiysk to stand up and challenge the Russian Bear?

 

For an in depth study of the Deaflympics you can order a copy of the latest book

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