National Deaf Sports federations who have been invited to participate will now decide whether or not to send athletes and teams to the next Summer Deaflympics in Brazil.
Immediately after the ICSD Extraordinary Congress in Switzerland last week, The ICSD officially invited all its member nations to take part in the 24th Summer Deaflympics from 1-15 May 2022 in Caxias do Sul, Brazil.
There are 21 sports currently listed on the programme and ICSD President Gustavo Perazzolo writes ‘We look forward to having you come down..’ Perazzolo himself is a former Brazilian Deaflympian in volleyball and cycling.
There are questions now facing National Deaf Sports Federations as they decide whether or not to participate in this event. Australia has already had to withdraw due to its government regulations on international travel which are already extended into 2022.
Travel restrictions will make it very expensive if athletes and their officials have to isolate at their own expense on return to their home countries. The outbreak of the new Omicron variant is set to have a severe impact on travel that could last well into 2022.
The state of Rio Grande do Sul does not have its own international airport and athletes will have to use internal flights to reach the local airport further increasing the risk of contamination by the virus and potentially the more transmittable Omicron.
Brazil currently has the second highest number of national recorded deaths due to Covid-19 and questions are being asked if the true number of deaths and cases are being recorded, the country currently at 615,570 deaths and 22.1 million cases nationally. President Jair Bolsonaro has told Brazilians to ‘stop whining‘ and has continued to downplay the virus. Brazil’s Supreme Court has opened an inquiry into claims made by Bolsonaro that Covid-19 vaccines may increase the chance of contracting Aids. One positive note to make in all of this is that the host state has one of the lowest number of deaths and cases so far in Brazil.
The official games website has a page showing some official Travel Insurance available, but neither that nor health insurance will give immunity to a virus – only a vaccine may do that.
For months now, national federation representatives have been asking the Deaflympic organisers to show that they are making arrangements to protect athletes from the virus as well as ensuring that the event will also have stringent Anti-doping checks and Audiogram checks in place.
Concerns about anti-doping and audiogram checks are long-standing as the CEO of ICSD, Dmitry Rebrov is Russian and has been found guilty by his country’s legal system of falsifying audiograms and ICSD have not followed the IOC and IPC in restricting how Russia can compete due to RUSADAs poor history of doping scandals. Last month’s World Short Course Swimming Championships had no in-competition anti-doping tests in place. When ICSD President Perazzolo was questioned about the lack of anti-doping tests he blamed the Polish organising committee and did not take responsibility for ICSD’s role in event planning oversight.
In recent weeks, CSD Head of Technical Commission, Martin Bogard has made presentations to his colleagues in the commission and to delegates at the Extraordinary Congress last week. We understand from comments being made by congress delegates that some of the sports sites may not be up to international standards which, if the claims are true, would make it difficult to validate any new Deaflympic Records set in the sports affected.
The IOC has continued to with hold its funding to ICSD in the wake of embezzlement scandals involving a former ICSD President and the umbrella organisation did not sanction the 2019 Winter Deaflympics and it remains to be seen what they will do for Caxias do Sul.
WADA have been made aware of the situation and the concerns that ICSD and Russia may have colluded to avoid the testing.
At last nights technical meeting, Christof asked Gustavo, the ICSD Interim President if he could explain why there was no anti-doping at the championships to which he replied to email the ICSD office.
Christof repeated his question “because he is the ICSD representative at these championships and therefore should answer my question.“
In his second reply, Gustavo blamed the Poland Organising Committee for not organising anti-doping tests.
Christof considers Gustavo’s reply to show that he is “A very poor president, not fit for office.”
We understand that all Deaf World Championship organising committees are obliged to follow all regulations for hosting sports events if they wish to be sanctioned by the ICSD. In the process, ICSD should have appointed its Technical Director of swimming to work closely with the Organising Committee to ensure that arrangements were in place to meet WADA regulations. Therefore ICSD cannot deflect the blame on the Organising Committee, it must also accept that it is also responsible and if necessary withdrawing its stamp of approval to a non-compliant event.
The ICSD Chief Executive Dmitry Rebrov continues to hold the office of Secretary General of the All-Russian Sports Federation of Deaf Sport. He would also be responsible, on behalf of the ICSD Board, for overseeing the work of the Technical Commission to ensure that the WADA code of practice is implemented. This blatant conflict of interest does nothing to safeguard the protection of clean athletes especially when Rebrov has also been found guilty in a Russian court of falsifying audiograms.
After Valery Rukhledev was removed from office, the ICSD Board attempted to deal with the misdemeanours and subordination of Rebrov which would have had a part to play in the leadership split that we now have in the organisation.
Observers at the World Deaf Short Course Swimming Championships are wondering why the event organisers have not arranged anti-doping testing for the swimmers whilst also declaring the IDBF of non-compliance.
Christof Niklaus, former ICSD Technical Director for Football has been observing events at the 1st World Deaf Short Course Swimming Championships taking place in Poland this week and he has reported his concerns to WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) because there have been no doping tests.
Christof is at the event as GB’s technical officer supporting swimmer Nathan Young. His complaint comes as the ICSD has released a statement this week declaring DIBF (Deaf International Basketball Federation) non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. This means that players and officials of the DIBF are not allowed to hold office or take part in competitions (regional and international) until they make arrangement to meet WADA requirements.
What is worrying Christof is that the Russian swimmers are ‘dominating in all events with no testing to provide confidence in their performances’
The question is how ICSD can remain compliant to the WADA code if it is allowing a sanctioned event to take place without doping testing. ICSD’s lack of control and compliance is due to its lack of support to Deaf sport federations with ‘historical under-resourcing and under-education.’
A WADA representative has quickly responded to Christof by email ‘we are fully committed to supporting DIBF, and ICSD, in making sure that the protection of clean deaf athletes is safeguarded, and strengthen if needed, at all times.’
Christof is picking up ‘word here in Poland of collusion between ICSD and Russia, to avoid having the Russian team be the subject of anti-doping tests.’ He has asked WADA to pass this information on to its own Intelligence & Investigations team. There remains a serious conflict of interest as the ICSD Executive Officer Dmitry Rebrov also remains Secretary General of the All-Russian Sports Federation of Deaf Sport.
WADA sent another reply to this news ‘Your email has been taken very seriously and already been forwarded to the relevant departments of WADA for follow up. We are also following up very closely the situation at DIBF which has been provided all the necessary support over the past few months.’
Christof’s role in Poland is to function as official support and representative for GB’s only entrant Nathan Young who has been sharing his frustrations that there is still a lack of performance funding for Deaflympic athletes in the UK and blames the DCMS, Sport England and UK Sport for ignoring them.
Members of the Deaflympic movement are fully aware that their former president Valery Rukhledev (Valery) has been under house arrest since 2018 for embezzlement of funds at VOG. What has not been told until now is how this could impact in ICSD.
We reported here on Two Big ears in December 2014 that ICSD CEO Dimity Rebrov was found guilty of audiogram fraud whilst working for the Russian Deaflympic Committee. This was not an isolated incident as we will now share information reported by a Russian news agency Interlocutor.ru
In 2011, Russian Deaflympians and their coaches complained to their Ministry of Culture that the Russian Deaflympic Committee was demanding 10% of their Deaflympic medal winnings awarded from the state. 90% of the medals winners have refused to get involved with the ‘almighty extortionist‘ but the rest ‘have had their careers mercilessly ruined’.
As far as the Ministry of Sport are concerned the 10% donations are to help the development of other Russian athletes. But Interlocutor cites another new source “Novaya Gazeta” that ‘Rukhledev and the SKR (Russian Deaflympic Committee) earned over 1.8 million Euros from medals won at the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics and the Deaflympians and their coaches were complaining that no funds were being passed down to support athletes.
But all this is not the reason for Valery being placed under house-arrest.
So, Why is Valery Rukhledev under house arrest?
In January 2018, a criminal investigation was opened against Valery and four others for the embezzlement of 320 million roubles (£3.1m, US$4.05m, 3.4m Euro) belonging to the All-Russian Society of the Deaf (VOG). Valery co-defendants are a former lawyer of VOG and the former head of Finance at VOG. A fourth person was imprisoned for 3.5 years as her trial revealed that as a close friend and assistant of the VOG lawyer ‘between 2011 and 2014, she created and sought out controlled legal entities as fictitious counterparties of VOG LLC and its subsidiaries and managed their bank accounts, took actions to cash out founds obtained as a result of theft, took measures to conceal the crimes.’
But Where did this all start for Valery?
Natalia Metlina, a journalist and TV and radio presenter, Moscow City Duma (Council) Deputy and author of the book “My Mafia” wrote that Valery became the head of VOG in 2003 with the support of Caucasian criminal groups, whose money was used to bribe the heads of VOG regional branches 500,000 roubles each to approve the election of Valery.
Once he was in power, Metlina writes, that he surrounded himself with hearing assistants and rewrote the organisation’s charter in such a way that he became de facto owner. The criminal investigation has evidence to show that Valery became ‘the sole executive body of the company… having the right to dispose of the property of VOG entrusted to him by virtue of his position and make transactions on behalf of the company without additional approval’.
What would a Mafia stand to gain from putting money into Valery’s election campaign?
In 1926, VOG was created by the state to support Deaf people, it allocated buildings and factories. Deaf people had their own houses of culture, sanatoriums, rest houses and much more. VOG owned hundreds of buildings and plots of land throughout Russia. All this could be very useful to a Mafia. As well, in the 1990s, the state provided VOG with significant benefits on the importation of goods from abroad and it appears that the mafia used this to smuggle vodka, cigarettes and petrol into the country.
The investigation has been told that Valery was involved in a worked-out scheme of real estate, the buildings belonging to VOG throughout Russia were sold at bargain prices to the ‘right people’ and the difference between the price on documents and the real sale price was paid to Valery in cash. Those premises that could be rented out earned them another income.
The scheme also scammed state benefits. False names ‘dead souls‘ were used to claim state funds to pay for the fictitious use of sign language interpreters as well as organising fake jobs and selling equipment that should have been given to disabled people. grants given to renovate buildings also went into the ‘pockets of the president’s team’.
Amongst the evidence is one example of where VOG owned 100% shares in a company. The entire share were sold to another company for 500,000 roubles and then two months later the ownership of the company building was transferred over. It turns out that the building was worth 40 million roubles ‘There are dozens of examples throughout Russia’ According to another source in the report, it is calculated that over the 15 years under Valery’s management, VOG started out with 90 enterprises and this was reduced to 6. VOG still owns 191 buildings and 1 million hectares of land.
How much is Valery Rukhledev accused of making from all this?
The investigation suggest that Valery owns assets in Switzerland and the USA. His personal estate in Russia is estimated at half a billion roubles and twice as much again is in the names of other members of his family. In 2018, the Tverskoy Court of Moscow ruled to seize property belonging to his wife, as well as accounts, land plots and nine other properties that were in shared ownership.
Valery was eventually arrested when he tried to sell the central office of VOG for 1 billion roubles.
Rukhledev is still trying to hold on to power at VOG
Then Valery was placed under house-arrest in 2018, he was immediately replaced by Stanislav Ivanov as interim president. But despite the conditions of his arrest, on 3rd January 2018, Valery was able to issue a decree which cancelled Ivanov’s appointment and he was replaced by Alexander Kachergis, who according to reports is a protégé of Valery. It has been implied that the wording on the VOG website suggests that Kachergis is acting on the orders of Valery.
This is not the only time that Valery had violated his conditions and the investigators petitioned the Tversky Court to put him in a pre-trial detention centre because under secrecy he had arranged for visitors to meet him in his apartments and he still had access to the Internet and video-relay communications. So, for that, Valery spent some time in a detention centre cell before being released back under house-arrest where he will remain until 28 November 2020 with a ban on certain actions imposed by the court.
The next Congress of VOG will be held on the 12-14 November 2020. there are concerns that if Kachergis remains in position after the congress, then VOG will continue to remain as a pocket filling trough for the usurped power and thief unless the 76 regional branches and 878 local ones can find it amongst themselves to fight against this and stop the VOG being the personal wallet of Valery and be transferred back into an organisation designed to protect the interests of hundreds and thousands of Russian deaf people.
Does the shadow of Valery Rukhledev still hand over ICSD?
Having absorbed the magnitude of this information, members of ICSD might not help but wonder at the similarities they find in the ICSD where the Board has recently tried to remove Rebrov who was appointed by Valery. Looking further back, people might also wonder if similar methods of using stuffed envelopes in Valery’s 2003 VOG election might also have been used again in 2013 when he replaced Craig Crowley for the presidency of ICSD.
As we know, the VOG investigation suggests that Valery owns property in Switzerland and the ICSD (under the direction of Valery and Rebrov) were quick to move its assets to Geneva where ICSD uses Swiss law to govern its financial operations.
This week, ICSD have announced its intentions to hold an Extraordinary Congress in 2021. If members think that by voting in a new Board, they will win the support of the IOC and have their funding reinstated, they may need to reconsider.
They should also think about protecting ICSD from any potential criminal interference from within and outside itself by removing its Secretariat away from Geneva and officially disassociate itself from Russian management.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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, 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
This afternoon, the International Paralympic Committee banned the entire Russian team from competing in next month’s Paralympic Games in Rio.
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.
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.
How many Deaf athletes are guilty of falsifying their audiograms?
The BBC recently stated that a German TV documentary claims that 99% of Russian athletes are guilty of doping. You can find a link to this report at the end of this post.
The TV documentary is another investigation about Russian officials systematically accepting payments from athletes to supply banned substances and cover up tests. Not surprisingly, the Russian Athletic Federation (RAF) says the allegations are ‘lies’. The IAAF and WADA say they are investigating; hopefully they will be thorough.
Now, we mention this because in Deaf sport, it is the audiograms which are sacrosanct – falsifying an audiogram is as serious as it gets, just as ‘doping’ gives athletes an advantage, submitting a false audiogram to pretend that you are Deaf enough to compete in Deaf sport and the Deaflympics is cheating.
Does Audiogram cheating occur in Deaf sport? At the Deaflympics there are WADA anti-doping tests and random Audiogram testing to catch out the cheats. This happens at every Deaflympics, and it is a good thing, because it shows that the ICSD are vigilant about audiograms and the Deaflympic Movement values the inviolability of the Olympic Code as we compete under the banner of the ICSD and IOC.
More often than not in doping and audiogram checks, it is athletes who are caught out and banned, but occasionally coaches and officials are too. But what about a member of a National Olympic Committee or indeed a high –level member of staff at the IOC, what would happen if they cheated by falsifying information, would they be given a ban? Yes, indeed, we expect they would, just as IOC members are stripped of their membership for accepting bribes etc.
Unfortunately, most unfortunately, this type of cheating and cover up is occurring right now at the highest levels of the ICSD. I have read information that the Russian Deaf Sports Confederation (RDSC) was found guilty of falsifying audiograms. I have seen legal Moscow Court documents, supplied by a Russian Deaflympic wrestler Eugene Golovanov, showing that the RDSC have been ordered to pay compensation to him as the court ruled that the RDSC falsified his audiogram in order to discredit him. As well as making compensation payments, the RDSC were also ordered by the court to issue a public statement vindicating the wrestler. The falsification of the audiogram took place in 2011.
RDSC immediately appealed against the decision, which they eventually lost in early 2014. According to my correspondence with Mr Golovanov he has still not received the compensation and he continues to meet resistance form the RDSC to allow him to compete.
Dmitry Rebrov is the man who submitted the false audiogram in 2011 and “strongly urged” ICSD administrators to check the details. After the RDSC had been taken to court, they continued to keep Mr Rebrov in office as they defied the court order and lodged their appeal.
Photo: Dimitry Rebrov, who submitted a falsified audiogram to the ICSD in 2011.
Following his appointment as President of ICSD in 2013, Mr Rukhledev personally appointed Rebrov as interim CEO of ICSD and then recently, he was awarded the job permanently and presumably, with the approval of the ICSD Executive. Today, the Deaflympic Movement is lead by its Chief Executive who has been caught behaving in the most malicious way imaginable. This situation of leadership and management is untenable, as Rebrov and the RDSC have still not compensated Eugene Golovanov and shielded this scandal from public knowledge until now.
The problem highlighted by this case, is that National Federations who are trying to win medals are also responsible for the audiograms of their athletes. This is a clear conflict of interest and vulnerable to abuse as we have seen with the RDSC.
ICSD should consider setting up an anti-doping AND audiogram commission to ensure checks are taking place independently and impartial in respective member countries – with what we know already about the Russians, there is doubt that they would push for this to happen.