Two Big Ears examines what’s inside the in-tray of the new leadership at ICSD and what are members expecting to happen.
The recent ICSD Congress in September 2022 elected a new governing board which is now led by President, Adam Kosa (Hungary) & Vice President World Sports, Yutaka Osugi (Japan).
Members have banked on Kosa’s relevant experience as a Deaflympian, Member of the European Parliament and board member of the Hungarian Paralympic Committee to bring a steady, diplomatic and stable leadership to ICSD which has endured almost 10 years of unsteadiness, tactlessness and unpredictability.
There is an expectation that Kosa and Osugi will request an opportunity to meet with the International Paralympic Committee and discuss opportunties for positive partnerships and a closer relationship. Unlike the previous elected incumbent Rukhledev whose opinion was to stay away from the IPC and expect them to come running to his door.
We are already witnessing signs of professionalism and orderliness coming from the Secretariat, issuing notices for elections to the various Commissions (Anti-Doping, Audiology, Legal, Sports and Women in Sport). Information about the opening hours of business and best times for communications.
They have written decisive and timely reminders to International Deaf Sports Federations that due to the war in Ukraine, Belarusian athletes, coaches and managers are not permitted to compete in ICSD sanctioned events, Deaflympics and World Championships. It would appear that some organisers have still not understood the ‘news’ and have needed to be told twice.
Perhaps Kosa and Osugi can explain why they have decided to hold on to Dmitry Rebrov as CEO despite being guilty of one of the worst acts of Deaf sport criminality; the falsification of athletes audiograms in order to get them banned from European competitions.
There is also a high expectation that the 2025 Summer Deaflympics will benefit from the legacy of hosting Olympic/Paralympics in 2020 and the leadership of Osugi who has been a prominent leader in Japanese Deaf sport for two decades. Will Kosa and his team ensure that the games have a solid backing by government ministries, sound financials and that nothing is left to the last minute – which has been the norm by ICSD with very few exceptions. The Games will also give ICSD the opportunity to celebrate the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the Deaflympic Games in 2024.
That’s all for the short term, but what is Kosa’s vision for the long term? Perhaps you, our Big Ears readers might like to make comments below?
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.
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.
With just 71 days to go to the Opening Ceremony, President of the ICSD Dr Rukhledev has praised the Organising Committee of this year’s Summer Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey.
This is very good news indeed, it is important that standards are continually met in order to meet the high demands and expectations of each generation that comes into sport.
I share Rukhledev’s sentiments and praise for the high quality of the 2005 Deaflympics as I was with the GB team in Melbourne when the organisers teamed up with the Commonwealth Games committee and worked together to use the Deaflympics as a testing event for many of the venues. Taipei were up next in 2009 as they wanted to show the world and the IOC that they too are capable of hosting World Class events and should be considered as a contender to host the Olympics. Again, I can also vouch from personal experience from being there with my family that the organisers did not disappoint us; up until now athletes, officials and administrators in the Deaflympic movement have often wondered if it was possible to improve on the spectacle delivered by the City of Taipei.
By all accounts, it would appear that athletes, officials and supporters heading for Samsun this summer are going to rewarded with the best ever Deaflympics to date. To back up ICSD’s claims, the Chef de Mission of the DeaflympicsGB was very impressed with how things were progressing when he went out for an early inspection visit in February, so things have clearly moved up a notch in the three months since then.
Athletes and coaches preparing for this year’s event should be highly motivated by this good news as things have been very difficult economically, especially when many governments still refuse to treat Deaflympians with the same accord as they do for Paralympians. Whilst DeaflympicsGB have maximised the use of social media, personal contacts and sacrificed training time for fund-raising activities to reach their funding targets recently, other Commonwealth nations like Australia are still looking for funds. The President of the IAAF, Sebastian Coe once said that if you put the athletes at the centre of all your planning and preparations, then they will be able to perform at their lifetime best.
With favourable inspection reports coming in, it would appear that the hosts are going to deliver as Lord Coe suggests. For example, this will be the very first time that there will be an Athletes Village for the Deaflympics where everyone will experience the ‘melting pot’ of cultures and nationalities all sharing the same accommodation to be hosted by the University of Samsun. But this will also bring a new set challenges for the 80 or so, national Chef de Missions and their backroom staff who, up until now have been used to managing the daily logistics of preparation and recovery of their athletes from the sanctuary and isolation of privately booked hotels and other forms of accommodation, with minimal interaction and interference from other teams.
This year I will be joining DeaflympicsGB as Manager for the golfers where our sport will be medalling for the first time since the games began in 1924. Our hosts will be Samsun Golf Club whose brochure and promotional materials backed up by our CdM’s inspection report reassure us that only the very best will be good enough for our competitors.
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.