12 days ago, we were sent a message alerting us to fraudulent activity by Russian Deaf Ice Hockey to enter hearing players into the Deaflympics.
Our messenger claimed that they were approached by a Russian whistle-blower maintaining that the Russian Deaf Ice Hockey team have been cheating for years, using hearing players at the European, World and Deaflympic competitions. For their evidence they shared links to Russian on-line news website which we have checked and verified. The article is an interview with Vyacheslav Rakhin who competed in the 2003, 2007 Winter Deaflympics and honoured with the title Master of Sport, Russia. The article appeared one week after the completion of the 2015 Deaflympics hosted in the Russian resort of Khanty-Mansiysk.
In the interview, published in November 2015, Rakhin talks openly about revealing the murkier side of Deaf sport as well as his business life after professional ice-hockey. Our source says that there was another interview in December 2015 where Rakhin denied everything, “we believe someone in Russia got mad about his older interview and told him to fix this up.”
Although the activities described in this interview took place in 2003, the Russian whistle-blower says that hearing players were used in the team at the World Deaf Championships 2013 and Deaflympics 2015.
Here is our summary of the news article on the Russian website, we invite our readers to judge for themselves and read the news sources at the end of this post.
Rakhin says that the Executive Board of Russia’s national team knew he was hearing “It was no secret, except to the medical committee.” whom he managed to convince that he was deaf.
Competing as a professional, Rakhin was approached in 1995 but the Russians felt that he would be too high profile and suspicious and instead, concentrated on players from Novosibirsk where they had a core of players from the school for the Deaf competing in local leagues.
When he retired, he was asked to compete in the 2003 Deaflympics. As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) he had learnt to lip-read and became fluent in sign language. The team coach was from Tver, and they strengthened the team with two more hearing players but the big problem was how to pass the hearing test organised by the medical committee.
Rakhin was able to pass the test because he understood how to behave the like a Deaf person “my mother couldn’t her the doorbell, but she could hear knocking.” Knowing that she could not hear high frequency sounds only low frequency – he applied this tactic during the test.
He tried to coach the other two players into passing the test, but the doctor was able to spot they were hearing because “they just stared at one spot without reacting to anything.” The doctor made some notes and then turned around to challenge the “cheaters”.
Because of the failure, people from a “higher level” had to find an agreement with the doctor as ‘the executive board of the national team pleaded “that there was a great need on behalf of our country, because without these players we will be kaput” At first, the doctor objected and said that she would get into trouble, but it appears that she was persuaded to issue false audiograms.
To be able to pass the audiogram tests at the Deaflympics, the team officials had to bring body doubles to attend the mandatory test in place of the two players and they needed deaf people who closely resembled them. It was a difficult task, but eventually they found two deaf men who vaguely looked like the two hearing players, one who was bald and the other with red hair. The first person was forced, under protest, to shave his head and the red-haired impostor managed to cover up his athlete accreditation with his hands, enough to pass the scrutineers.
Rakhin explained that this might be very difficult to achieve nowadays because the technology is more sophisticated.
The Russians received 10,000 rubles each for winning the bronze medal in 2003 and a monthly stipend of 16,000 a month for four years. In 2007 they each received 30,000 a month for winning the silver.
The original articles are found at:
Vyacheslav Rakhin Deaflympic profile https://www.deaflympics.com/athletes/vyacheslav-rakhin