The Rodchenkov Act is adopted in America...
The principle: give them an inch
Exactly when the USA is shaken by another scandal about the presidential election, the US Senate adopted a bill that recognises the supremacy of local legislation over international law and named it after the main falsifier of the 21st century Grigory Rodchenkov. In his column, Realnoe Vremya’s journalist Dzhaudat Abdullin both is indignant and surprised at the same time.
Will any basketball player who was caught doping be judged by the US court?
This summer, Russia adopted amendments to the Constitution, one of which envisaged the cancellation of international law’s priority over Russian. The amendments were made, however, nothing has for far changed in real life — the next news about a rule of the European Court of Human Rights to oblige Russia to pay compensations to our compatriots in various cases keep appearing from time to time. But America went further by adopting a bill that recognises the supremacy of the national court over international law. According to it, the USA is going to impose sentences on doping athletes after the competitions Americans competed in.
What does it mean? All national championships, for instance, basketball championship is full of American athletes. There are enough Americans in European hockey, volleyball... So what, will any basketball player who was caught doping be judged by the American court? Moreover, this bill applies to neither professional leagues nor US university sport. In other words, the NBA in which the number of people taking drugs already forces WADA to raise their allowed concentration in athletes’ blood won’t be even within this bill’s jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, only a month and a half left to New Year, the time when WADA starts the next stage of the fight against doping and the source of its distribution and consumption, that’s to say, Russia is nearing. The decision of the CAS on WADA and RUSADA will be published by the end of the year, and it will rule if Russian athletes will be competing at the Olympic Games and world championships under their flag and whether their country will be hosting big sports tournaments in the next four years.
There is a caveat though: will there these tournaments be held in the future in general? Will anybody wish to host them?
The stage that gives us nothing
Sadly, such issues are topical now like never before, as maintaining athletes without competitions isn’t the most pleasant task. The same figure skaters who will gather later this week for the Russian Grand Prix stage in Moscow have an abnormal situation: world Grand Prix series turned out to be less popular than Russian Cup stages, since the final stage in China was cancelled (postponed) after the cancellation of the French stage, which is a qualifier.
This information went almost unnoticed in a myriad of news about the cancellation of the next competitions in China. Figure skaters’ Grand Prix final was cancelled as well as the World Short Track Championship, World Speed Skating Championships in some distances and a stage of the Biathlon World Cup. Three skating competitions and one biathlon tournament were all mandatory competitions for the Beijing 2022 Olympics, that’s to say, they were so-called test tournaments.
However, China didn’t doubt and hosted finals of the World Table Tennis Championships. The competition was in Weihai, Shandong Province. The hosts of the competition won the first two places both among women and men “giving” bronze medals to tennis players from Japan. If we come to think, why is table tennis safer than biathlon, speed skating, figure skating and short track? No reason. Why is it more profitable for the hosts? Because of the medals. Only short track athletes could be candidates for the table tennis players’ success, which is also under question. There are anyway South Korea and Canada, plus Russia, Hungary, which began to attract Asians to the national team like ours did once, but it attracts athletes from China).
This is why the artful Chinese logic is coming to our mind: why host others’ competition if they can cite coronavirus? Moreover, they can host competitions for themselves because table tennis is almost a national sport.
What can the IOC do now?
The next chapter reflects the realities. The world mass media have recently been talking a lot about China’s Uyghurs. 13 years ago, in 2007, Tibet was considered the main problem of the multiethnic PRC, numerous organisations for human rights launched an information attack on Tibet. A year later Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics that was the objective of the “human rights activists”. This time, Uyghurs are among the victims. What can we say about it? China is a country with a 1,5-billion population and a huge number of nationalities living there, and it will always have room for violating human rights especially from a perspective of organisations with unclear rules and regulation and unobvious financial sources, especially those who are very interested in the country that hosts such a large event as the Olympics.
Our readers should be reminded what horror stories were written about Russia exactly six months before the Olympics in Sochi, at the moment when the problems with sexual minorities allegedly aggravated to the maximum. The Olympics in Rio received information attacks because of the make-up problem with Zika virus. And this worked until there was an object for blackmailing and pressure such as the participation in international competitions and hosting them. But COVID-19 came, it has been “operating” to the full for just 7 months and has literally transformed the whole world sports reality. Five world championships, eight European championships have been cancelled since March, the Olympics and Paralympics have been postponed until next year. Several tournaments have been put off until 2021, the current calendar of winter international competitions resembles Marten Fourcade’s target with black holes: postponed, put off, cancelled.
The IOC is gradually turning from a powerful organisation that organises the main competition of four years into a “lame duck” from the American political tradition. What does the IOC have right now? Unclear prospects of two Olympics in a row? What do federations have? Do the countries refuse to host competitions in the era with no box-office revenues but with numerous problems with the WHO’s regulations?
Nearly a year ago, on 9 December 2019, WADA’s Executive Committee revoked RUSADA’s status of compliance. Russia was divested of the right to host world championships... And we could be punished in public once again like it was in 2016 and 2018. But where is that blessed country that is ready to steadily host international competitions? Even China is now hosting what it wants. Take table tennis, but it wasn’t interested in the World Athletics Indoor Championships. And only Russia still agrees to host anything providing traffic of sports competitions.
Those federations that are used to fending for themselves are fine
The Olympics and post-Olympic European Championships in Paris have been cancelled in athletics too. Only 8 out of 15 scheduled IAAF Diamond League stages have been held. It is 8 out of 10 cancelled tournaments in a year — too little for a sport that earns only during competitions. Meanwhile, the International Athletics Federation has been heroically fighting with Russia for the right to possess our money for 5 years. Clearly, by imposing fines on us whenever possible, the IAAF together with its troublesome President Sebastian Coe provides itself with money, but his organisation turned out to be impotent against the pandemic and doesn’t guarantee anything in the future.
By the way, English London, Gateshead, American Eugene, Paris and Chinese metropolises are among the cities that refused to host athletic competitions. London and Gateshead are already ready to refuse the stage in 2021 too, the 2021 World Championships in the same Eugene is up in the air because it coincides with the Olympics. What is Coe doing? He is making a statement that he is ready to support the athletes who bent their knees at the award ceremony... Will this somehow support athletes financially? It is clear that Coe secretly hopes for the next tranche from Russia, he already voiced the desirable sum — $3,5 million.
The season was a failure for rowers too. Kayakers and canoeists’ European Championships and the World Rowing Championships have been cancelled. Only the European Rowing Championships in slalom have been held in the end.
COVID-19 hit and continues hitting everything from the upcoming calendar what host countries or international federations can’t save. Meanwhile, in 2020 there was an example of the International Cycling Union that hosted all competitions scheduled for 2020, that’s to say, the European Track Championships (Bulgaria), the European Mountain Bike Championships (Switzerland), the Road World Championships (Italy). Judo has managed to gather too, and the “May” European championships will be held this week, the start was on 19 November.
As for the rest of federation that we have no complaints about, we can name MMA that has hosted all key fights of the season, the Automobile Sport Federation, which has just finished the main tournament of the season Formula One, the Professional Tennis Players Association where the final tournament with the strongest tennis players is coming to an end, and only the Davis Cup and Federations Cup have been cancelled. As for the cancelled Wimbledon, this was a decision of English organisers.
The reason is what the enumerated federations work with sponsors, not the only “underdog” in the person of the Russian Athletics Federation.