A Popular gameshow on the BBC in the UK has recruited Jodie Ounsley, GB Deaflympian as a Gladiator.
Professional Exeter Chiefs Rugby Player, Jodie Ounsley, is named ‘Fury’ thanks to her power and passion for competition. A former England Women’s Rugy Seven’s player, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu British Champion and five times World Coal Carrying champion, she won the title of Deaf Sports Personality of The Year in 2020.
Jodie has Gladiators in her blood, her father was a contender on the show in 2008, and she has been training to outdo him ever since. When she was younger she even dressed up as a Gladiator and practiced the games in her living room! Contenders beware, when that game starts you’ll feel the wrath of ‘Fury’.
The disgraced former ICSD President Valery Rukhledev as been removed from the list of ICSD Medal of Honor recipients and he has been asked to return the award.
Rukhledev was the 9th ICSD President form 2013 -2018 despite concerns about his integrity to hold office. The Russian Deaf community had long been dissatisfied with VOG, the All-Russian Society of the Deaf of which he also presided whilst ICSD president.
As we reported here, earlier this month, Rukhledev has been sentenced to seven years on a penal colony for his part in embezzling funds relating to VOG. Because of this, the ICSD Executive has decided to withdraw the medal of Honor that he was awarded in 2017 in recognition of his contributions to international deaf sports. The Executive decided that ‘Mr Rukhledev no longer meets the criteria for this esteemed award.’
The global Deaf community has reacted in frustration to the ICSD handling of further misdemeanours by their Russian-based CEO.
Earlier this month, Deaf sports community watchers were alerted to the fact that the ICSD CEO was endorsing and leading Russia’s plans to hold their own government sponsored, ‘Alternative Summer Deaflympics’ because they, along with Belarus are banned from international competitions due to their stance on the illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Nothing wrong with Russia doing their own thing, they have to to everything they can to keep the Russian population in the dark on what’s happening in Ukraine.
But a news video broadcasted on You Tube by Russian Deaf Television, shows Dmitry Rebrov, the employee of the ICSD and supposed guardian of the Deaflympic brand, endorsing the “Alternative Deaflympic Summer Games” in Ufa, Russia.
Shocked by this blatant disregard for the integrity of Deaf sport, and a claim that Russia intends to invite other nations to participate, the Deaflympic historian Pinchas, shared the story and video on 3rd March asking what ICSD planned to do about it.
On 21st March, ICSD issued a statement that:
“According to our current information, the sports event is organised by the Government of the Russian Federation and the All-Russian Sports federation of Deaf Sport (OSFSG). The sports organisation is not a member of the ICSD. According to the sports federation, the word “Deaflympics” will not be used officially at the event.
The ICSD will not give any form of permission for the use of the word ‘Deaflympics’ and will closely monitor the organisation of the Russian Summer Games of Deaf Athletes “We are Together” and if necessary, take action and take any necessary steps against any possible unlawful use of the word “Deaflympics”.
The statement finished by explaining their actions towards Rebrov: “Mr. Dmitry Rebrov has agreed to refrain from promoting and organising the Summer Games of Deaf Athletes “We are Together Sport”.
Once again, people are feeling that Rebrov brings the ICSD and the Deaflympics into disrepute, and infuriated Deaf people have commented on this direct to ICSD, that stronger action should be taken by the ICSD Board. Indeed how on earth are they going to ‘closely monitor‘ what’s going on in Russia ?
“Imagine if the well known Deaf sports historian did not post (the story) on social media it would have made things worse for ICSD. Why didn’t the ICSD CEO inform ICSD about the alternative Deaflympics in the first place. It sounds very strange and awkward.” Donal Desmond
“While Russian athletes are banned from competing in most international sport, due to multiple state sponsored doping and their highly illegal invasion of Ukraine, ICSD should not be employing a Russian! He has been guilty of audiogram fraud. This undermines ICSD’s efforts to build a good reputation”John Neilson
Of course, Miguel Alejandro and others are wondering “why all the fuss” when we should be promoting and putting Deaf athletes first. But this is seen as ignorant and the lack of concern for the unprofessionalism and disregard shown by Rebrov continues to go unchecked.
The lukewarm reactions by non-Western nations to Russian doping, audiogram frauds, imposter athletes and ICSDs continuance to employ a Russian to oversee Deaf sport and to appoint Russians as Technical Directors etc reflects the geopolitical attitude towards the West that we see in mainstream society and such sentiments are no different in the global Deaf community. Perhaps that explains why Rebrov still has a job and why, as far as we know, the IOC has not yet restored it’s funding and full support to ICSD.
The court sentenced the ex-head of VOG Rukhledev to 7 years in prison for a multi-million dollar embezzlement
The Khamovniki Court of Moscow today, March 22, 2023, sentenced the former president of the All-Russian Society of the Deaf (VOG) Valery Rukhledev to 7 years in a penal colony in the case of multimillion-dollar embezzlement of the organization’s funds.
According to TASS, “the court decided to find Rukhledev guilty and sentence him to 7 years in a penal colony,” the judge announced the decision.
In addition, the court announced the verdict for other defendants. Thus, the former VOG lawyer Yevgeny Novoseltsev was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison, and the court appointed Tatyana Zembatova, head of the finance department, 4.5 years in a penal colony.
According to media reports, a criminal case on the theft of more than 300 million roubles in the All-Russian Society of the Deaf was initiated in 2018 under the article fraud on an especially large scale, it was then that the investigation detained Novoselets, who also headed the VOG subsidiary. Later, the then president of the VOG, Rukhledev, Zembatova, and legal assistant Irina Rudenko were detained. The Rudenko case was separated into a separate proceeding and considered in a special order, since she repented and fully admitted her guilt.
Rukhledev was also President of the ICSD (International Deaf Sport for the Deaf) he was elected in 2013 and then removed after he was placed under house arrest in 2018.
The legal representatives of the Russian beach Volleyball athlete Rushan Dayanov have filed a lawsuit of slander to protect his honour and dignity against accusations made by Valery Rukhledev in a TV interview that he is in fact hearing and should not be competing in deaf sport.
We are grateful to readers of our website who have alerted us to this case. The information is available on the Russian website DEAFNET from October 2022. It also has a video of Dayanov as he has a hearing test to prove that his deafness meets ICSD standards of 55dB or more in the better ear.
The story came about after ICSD received an anonymous latter claiming that the athlete has fraudulently won a Beach Volleyball gold medal at the 2005 Deaflympics in Melbourne. Such accusation are very serious for Russian athletes because if they are disqualified, they not only lose their medal but also a pension from the government.
Dayanov’s team-mate in the Beach Volleyball competition was Stanislav Ivanov the head of the All-Russian Society of the Deaf (VOG) which suggests that the letter was actually written by disgruntled former employees at VOG who have a vendetta against Ivanov and that Dayanov has become the scapegoat.
The lawyer representing Dayanov claim to have irrefutable proof of his hearing loss and in the video, the athlete said “I achieved the championship with sweat and blood, worked hard for 20 years to deserve this prize- not only for myself, but first of all the country. This whole situation was an absolute shockfor me. I have nothing to hide. It hurts that for the sake of petty intrigues, swindlers are ready to break a persons life.”
The lawyer Daryakuliev promises that the response to slander would be ‘extremely harsh’. The defendants in the case are Rukhledev, the All-Russian Television of the Deaf and its editor in chief Alexander Soldatov. Applications have already been prepared to initiate criminal cases under the charge of ‘slander’.
The video in the article shows Rukhledev talking to All-Russian Deaf TV “Dyanov spoke among the deaf, but in fact he is 100% hearing”. he speaks fluently and does not know sign language. This is already a global scandal.”
This case does raise issues around the proof that athletes require to compete in international deaf sports. In the athlete’s defence it has been explained that he has speech that is almost indistinguishable from that of hearing people because he did not become deaf until he was 10 years old after a serious illness. Comments on the website suggest that it may be very difficult to prove what his hearing was like in 2005, because Dayanov is now 62/63 years of age and likely that he would present such a level of deafness for his age.
His last Deaflympic competition was in 2017 when he won a bronze medal in the beach Volleyball.
The lawyer also argues that the Russian Deaflympic committee should not be undertaking disciplinary checks on the basis of an anonymous letter and should have taken measures to protect athletes from anonymous accusations and identifying the authors of such letters.
We have no updates on this case, perhaps our readers will keep us informed?
The International Committee of Sport for the Deaf is violating its own Code of Ethics by continuing to employ staff contrary to item 51.57 of the ICSD Code of Ethics.
According to the ICSD Code of Ethics:
51.57 An employee at the ICSD Secretariat must not be an active athlete or hold a governing position within an ICSD Member.
And according to the ICSD Constitution:
11.3 The Chief Executive Officer leads the Secretariat and manages the day-to-day activities of ICSD. She/he represents ICSD and the Executive Board in all day-to-day business affairs and in all proceedings and negotiations of all types against authorities and courts.
The Current CEO is Dmitry Rebrov who has been in post now for some time despite severed breaches of the ICSD Code of Ethics especially clause 12.17 by fraudulently falsifying an athlete’s audiograms and having been found guilty by a court of law.
The Current code of Ethics were approved by ICSD members at the 48th Extraordinary Congress on 29th November 2021.
On August 23rd 2022, Rebrov was elected President of OSFSG LLC the All-Russian Sports Federation of Sports for the Deaf. Whilst remaining in post as ICSD CEO, he is violating code 51.57. See website
The newly appointed President Adam Kosa has proudly declared that the ICSD is now getting its affairs in order to comply with IOC requirements for improved governance. Perhaps now is the time for him to review his staffing situation before tries to convince the IOC?
Whilst he is doing that, he should also remind himself of ICSD Code of Ethics 51.50 and ensure that both himself and Vice President of World Sport Yutaka Osugi no longer hold governance positions in other ICSD member organisations.
Two Big Ears raises the question about the appointment of a Russian citizen as TD for orienteering
ICSD have just announced the latest list of ICSD Technical Directors for Deaf sports.
We draw your attention to the continued appointment of the TD for Orienteering who is a Russian citizen.
This post is not questioning the competency of the TD themselves, they are capable of their job.
We are questioning the lack of judgement and consistency of ICSD decision making with regards to the ban of Russian and Belarussian athletes and officials from international sport.
We assume that ICSD orienteering is run under the rules of the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) and according to the IOF website:
“Can a IOF Event Advisor from Russia/Belarus be appointed as an Event Advisor for an event in another Federation?” The answer is “No”.
The role of an ICSD Technical Director operates in the capacity of an ‘Events Advisor’ to the organising committee of the ICSD Deaflympics and World Championships.
We suggest that the ICSD member countries should ask the ICSD Legal Commission to review this appointment and satisfy the international Deaf community that it is operating within the parameters of the international ban and it’s own commitments and obligations to that ban.
Screenshots of the IOF website are available below
“I am mostly worried about inclusiveness with Kosa at the wheel. Him coming from an extremist right wing party, voting against inclusive policies/laws to promote LGBTQIA+-rights don’t speak for his position as leader, to be honest. Maybe the board of ICSD needs to be as diverse as possible before being able to make any differences in the international Deaf sports atmosphere” Two Big Ears Reader.
This reader’s comment of concern regarding the political affiliations and voting decisions of the ICSD leaders elected to represent deaf athletes is a very important subject. All organisations must decide what and whom they represent and protect. As in the case against Russia and Belarus, not all countries voted to, or agreed with the decision to ban these two nations from international competitions, but the majority have and therefore the motion was passed.
In the case of the recent elections to choose the new leadership of the ICSD, the evidence presented to the floor came from the candidates themselves, through their personal statements and attached letters of support. It was then up to the representatives of each country to decide whether or not they had the full information available to them, if not, they were free to carry out their own due diligence to help them come to a decision. Who knows, perhaps some delegates were already aware of the political affiliations and beliefs of all those elected and then cast their votes accordingly.
The final point made by our reader highlights the need for greater diversity within the organisation, Congress has elected both men and women into positions of responsibility. Its not perfect, there is always more that could be done to address the balance. From what we already know about the political history of the ICSD and the barriers that limit Deaf people’s access to information and human rights, it would be fair to assume that many decision makers in the various levels and roles within the global ICSD framework do not adhere to nor uphold the concepts of inclusion, equality and diversity.
Let’s hope that those who have been elected remember always that they do not work FOR Kosa they work WITH him as an EQUAL and with all their other Executive colleagues who have been elected. If there are acts of discrimination by anyone affiliated to ICSD (officials, staff, technical directors, coaches and athletes etc) then it is expected that this will be called out for what it is and dealt with appropriately.
Finally, the responsibility for electing the ICSD leadership is in the hands of those who vote at Congress (the national Deaf sport federation officials). Perhaps after reading this post, you want more information about the elections and how your national representatives voted. If you are a member of their organisations, you have a right to ask questions and be satisfied that Deaf sport leaders, all over the world are all practicing diversity, inclusion and equity in their approach to the development of Deaf sport.
As always, we respond to comments, questions etc from our readers – share your views with us here
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?