Will the IOC Sanctions on Russia affect the Deaflympics ?

The IOC Executive Board has laid down special rules for International Sports Federations to follow when deciding whether or not any Russian athlete can compete in their sport during the Rio Olympics. But what does this mean for the Deaflympics in 2017 – should the ICSD follow the same ruling as the IOC and IPC ? If so, does the doping system in place within the ICSD stand up to scrutiny – can it cope with such conditions ?

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First and foremost, the IOC has granted the ICSD membership into the Olympic Movement and therefore it should follow the decisions of the IOC Executive Board and apply the same sanctions to the Summer Deaflympics in 2017. If it cannot do this, then the ICSD must be held in contempt of a fundamental rule of the Olympic Charter to protect clean athletes and the integrity of sport.

It must apply these sanctions to the Deaflympics of 2017, because it is likely that the IOC sanctions will remain in place until the 2018 Winter Olympics at least.

The most compelling reason for applying IOC conditions on Russia is because their Deaflympic athletes are state-sponsored and thus by association are placed under suspicion to the same degree as their compatriots in the Olympic and Paralympic camps where some Deaflympic athletes share the same training facilities and coaches.

After deliberating, the IOC EB decided that it “will not accept any entry of any Russian athlete into the Olympic games in Rio 2016 unless the athlete can meet the conditions set out below.” (Decision of the IOC Executive Board)

2. Entry will be accepted by the IOC only if an athlete is able to provide evidence to the full satisfaction of his or her International Federation (IF) in relation to the following criteria:

• The IFs*, when establishing their pool of eligible Russian athletes, to apply the World Anti-Doping Code and other principles agreed by the Olympic Summit (21 June 2016).

• The absence of a positive national anti-doping test cannot be considered sufficient by the IFs. 

• The IFs should carry out an individual analysis of each athlete’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field.  

• The IFs to examine the information contained in the IP Report, and for such purpose seek from WADA the names of athletes and National Federations (NFs) implicated. Nobody implicated, be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games.

• The IFs will also have to apply their respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire NFs. 

It is going to be extremely difficult for the ICSD to apply the four criteria in condition 1. This is because very few Deaflympic athletes are subjected to out-of-competition testing. The lack of political support from national governments to apply equal status on all IOC, IPC and ICSD athletes means that there are no funds available within International Federations to subject Deaflympic athletes to testing.

But this cannot be a reason for the ICSD to claim that it cannot abide by the IOC Executive Board ruling because the second criteria above states that ‘The absence of a positive anti-doping test cannot be considered sufficient by the IF’ in other words, if Russian athletes have never been tested, then they cannot prove that they are clean because they are under suspicion as state-sponsored athletes.

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3. The ROC is not allowed to enter any athlete for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 who has ever been sanctioned for doping, even if he or she has served the sanction. 

Condition 3 can be applied, without appeal, all Russian Deaflympic athletes who have ever been sanctioned for doping should not be allowed to compete in the Summer Deaflympics, Samsun 2017. Furthermore, the ICSD should put in place measures to ensure that Russian athletes cannot bypass this ruling by trying to compete under a different name, this is something that can quite easily be done as we cannot trust the Russian Deaflympic officials not to do this as they have already been found guilty, by Russian courts of manipulating audiograms.

4. The IOC will accept an entry by the ROC only if the athlete’s IF is satisfied that the evidence provided meets conditions 2 and 3 above and if it is upheld by an expert from the CAS list of arbitrators appointed by an ICAS Member, independent from any sports organisation involved in the Olympic Games Rio 2016. 

The problem with condition 4 is that whilst Deaflympic sports compete under the rules and adaptations approved by their respective IF’s, there are International Deaf Sport Organisations who fall very well short of running a tight ship when it comes to following IF rules or managing competitions to IF standards or even knowing what ICAS is.

5. The entry of any Russian athlete ultimately accepted by the IOC will be subject to a rigorous additional out-of-competition testing programme in coordination with the relevant IF and WADA. Any non-availability for this programme will lead to the immediate withdrawal of the accreditation by the IOC. 

ICSD cannot afford out-of-competition testing, so it will have to play safe and not allow Russian athletes to compete. Unless of course the Russian state will provide the funds to ICSD to enable it to appoint non-Russian WADA officials to test its athletes.

To close, I put this challenge to the ICSD President Rukhledev:

Sir, you were appointed by the ICSD membership to ensure equality and integrity for Deaflympic sport within the Olympic Movement, I put it to you, that you should seek financial support from the Russian state to fully fund a full, global, in-and out of competition anti-doping programme of the ICSD indefinitely to be carried out by non-Russian laboratories. This act of support to the Deaflympic Movement might go some way to demonstrate to the world that you and your country take anti-doping seriously.

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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.

Deaf Sports takes another backward step into obscurity.

Kang Chen, the Vice President – World Sports, International Committee of the Deaf (ICSD), has appointed former president and vice president Donalda Ammons and Josef Willmerdinger to join him onto the three-person Deaflympics Evaluation and Coordination Commission. Both Ammons and Willmerdinger were responsible for heading up the catastrophic selection of host countries for the 2011 Winter and 2013 Summer Deaflympics and yet, Kang believes that they are his best choice of counsel to safeguard future games.

The major task of the commission is to monitor the progress of the Deaflympics Organising Committee (DOC) and assist the DOC in the delivery of future games. Their first task will be the scrutiny of the 2017 DOC host Turkey with site inspections and inspections of forward plans and preparations.

Such an appointment demonstrates once again the inability of the ICSD Executive to make rational decisions based on previous experience. They have approved the full time appointment of their CEO Rebrov from Russia who has been found complicit in the falsifying of athletes audiograms in order to discredit an athlete and now Chen has appointed Ammons and Willmerdinger whose decisions to choose the one-man operation in Slovakia that swindled millions of dollars in the Winter Deaflympics that never was and both were also in charge when ICSD simultaneously, allowed Greece a nation with insurmountable debt to go ahead and host the 2013 Summer Deaflympics.

Chen and Rebrov should be asked why they did not appoint former president Craig Crowley onto their Evaluation and Cooordination Commission. He would be a good candidate as he demonstrated that he was capable of identifying the major flaws in Slovakia and Greece as soon as he was appointed. If the ICSD Executive is looking for someone with backbone and an eye for detail, then Crowley would have been seen as a good choice.

The present incumbents were amongst those who were highly critical of Crowley’s decision to stop the Slovakian Winter games in May 2010 when his due diligence and site visits discovered major flaws – the current president of the ICSD, Ruhkledev was instrumental in the defiance of Crowley and persuading the ICSD to overule him in December 2010 and reinstate the Slovakian games which, in the end, had to be cancelled when Crowley’s concerns were proven right. It is not surprising then, that ICSD has reverted to type, pre- Crowley.

Is this the beginning of the end of the Deaflympics ?

Critical Review of Thomas Giddens’ documentary: “Does Deaf Football have a Future?”

I have been eagerly anticipating the release of a new documentary “Does Deaf Football Have a Future?” because it is the first time in a while that a programme about Deaf sport was being made in the UK where I had no involvement or insight. I wanted to compare this documentary with my analysis and perspective of the way in which media promotes the Deaflympic Movement and Deaf sport.

 

The documentary has been made at BSL Zone who support the next generation of d/Deaf filmmakers through their Zoom 2014 scheme aimed at d/Deaf scriptwriters and directors who have some experience but have never had their work broadcast on television. This is Thomas Giddens first ever attempt at documentary filmmaking where he explores ideas about the future of Deaf football. The film is now available online.

 

There are an infinite number of ways to analyse a subject and in Same Spirit Different Team I highlight the important of how the media representation of sport shapes and informs public attitudes to disability sport. Journalists have the power to inform or not to inform and they construct reality from their particular perspectives. I was looking forward to finding out how far Giddens would take his responsibility of wielding power to inform us about the future of Deaf football.

 

Without giving too much away; I recommend that you watch this enjoyable and well-made documentary as I think it gives people a broad perspective of Giddens potential as a documentary maker. This debuting director was limited to 15 minutes of airtime and I think he did well to;

  • Use old newsreels and contemporary footage, to give us an historical perspective from the experience of the current GB manager Philip Gardiner.
  • Advocate the current politics and philosophies about deaf football
  • Briefly explore the importance of role models and inclusive football
  • Give us all a hint into what the senior management at GB Deaf Football believes needs to be done in the future

 

Exposure to mass media plays a significant role in reinforcing existing norms and attitudes that might serve to change public attitudes. Family and peer opinions can be strong, but these too are mass media influenced. Journalists have the power to inform or not inform and they construct reality form their particular perspectives.

 

I hope this experience has inspired Giddens to continue making sports documentaries because the more coverage we have of the Deaflympics and Deaf sport, the more information we have to share with the public and society to increase exposure and encourage debate and discussion.

 

Whatever coverage is realised, it does influence attitudes towards the Deaflympics brand; and so it is important that national federations like UK Deaf Sport and their IOC representative the International Committee of Sport for the deaf (ICSD) interacts with the media as much as it possibly can; to present a positive and attractive brand to future athletes, target audiences, corporate supporters and others who are essential to the sustainability of Deaf sport.

 

The Zoom film scheme is designed to support the next generation of d/Deaf filmmakers. Included five days training, mentorship, script development, production and communication support. Find out more by logging into the BSL Zone.

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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