''It's manageable chaos'': Russian Paralympians reinstated

They've missed two Paralympics because of WADA

''It's manageable chaos'': Russian Paralympians reinstated Photo: kremlin.ru

Russian disabled athletes have been reinstated after 2,5 years of ban. They may compete under their country's flag from 15 March this year but only if WADA is satisfied with the data obtained from the RUSADA anti-doping laboratory in Moscow. More details are in sports journalist Dzhaudat Abdullin's column written for Realnoe Vremya.

As far as we remember, there was no disqualification for vodka

This decision won't almost affect Tatarstan ''right now''. We haven't participated at the summer Paralympics, as the only candidate to the national team Aleksandr Markin wasn't selected to it. Tatarstan also delegated biathlete and skier Marta Zainullina to the Winter Paralympics in PyeonChang, though as neutral. Rushan Minnegulov who wasn't invited to participate at last year's Paralympics is the only victim.

A week ago, continuing the undeclared war against Russia, WADA additionally revoked several previous medals from our country. A sportswoman competing for Tatarstan, a sportsman whose brother played for KAMAZ from Chelny and a sportsman who made history are among the victims. However, it has done this many times, what we will talk about below.

Discus thrower Vera Ganeyeva (Karmishina) is the sportswoman competing for Tatarstan. Unfortunately, she wasn't almost remembered by fans. She competed for our republic simultaneously at the Universiade in Kazan and at the world championships in Moscow but didn't win a medal on the international stage. Born in Kamyshin, Volgograd Oblast, Karmishina once moved to Moscow where she married shot putter Lenar Ganeyev from Nizhnekamsk. After that, she was noticed by Tatarstan scouts who actively complimented the republic's team with athletes from the outside. The sportsman whose younger brother Layonel played two matches for KAMAZ is triple jumper Lyukman Adams. Both brothers have Nigerian roots, this is why they have the unusual names and the surname. The case of Lyukman is also tragicomic because he was disqualified not for the fact of doping but for violating anti-doping rules that bear the name ADAMS.

We can keep enumerating different good and bad things from Ukhov's sports career, but the whole athletic community knew he was out of this world and was to be the last who took banned drugs for the sake of victories. Photo: eurosport.ru

The third of 12 Russian athletes who were disqualified has nothing to do with Kazan or Tatarstan. His connection with the republic is indirect but very memorable. It's high jumper Ivan Ukhov. Kazan hosted the first large-scale competitions in its history 15 years ago – the Spartakiade among students. It was a showcase of the talented youth. Some of the participants had already climbed the Olympic summit like gymnast Yevgenia Kanayeva, some shifted their focus to another activity like Zarina Mukhitdinova who became a film actress after a win at European championships. And Ivan Ukhov changed his sports specialisation and became even more successful. In Kazan, he won in disc throwing. Moreover, at his 17, he even didn't think about high jumping switching to this discipline a bit later but falling in love with it forever.

Ukhov ''adorned'' his sports career by several memorable episodes. In 2008, he entered the jumping sector drunk. In 2012, he won an Olympic gold with another person's T-shirt, as he had simply lost his own. In 2013, he was ready to compete for Tatarstan at the Universiade in Kazan, only as a token of respect for his good colleague Denis Kapustin. We can keep enumerating different good and bad things from Ukhov's sports career, but the whole athletic community knew he was out of this world and was to be the last who took banned drugs for the sake of victories. Not counting vodka…

WADA says 'yes' to marijuana

Those who go on believing that the international anti-doping agency acts in the best interests of clean sports movement is either naïve or stupid or both. As WADA's actions stopped having either logic or common sense a long time ago. How long? Some six years. This began in 2013 when the ''doping fighters'' increased the allowed level of content of marijuana in the organism ten times at once – from 15 to 150 nanogrammes per millilitre of blood. Therefore the IOC secured itself from more often repeating cases of capture of athletes relaxing with the help of narcotic during those years. Not the licentiousness is the case, just more sports that had no doping control started to be added to the Olympic programme.

In for a penny, in for a pound – it's what WADA did in the same 2013 having added Trimetazidine for maintaining energy metabolism of cells exposed to hypoxia or ischaemia to the list of banned substances. In other words, it's heart medicine, the main muscle of all athletes and not only. Cases of the death of athletes both when competing and preparing for competitions when they had hard training became frequent during those years. 36-year-old canoeist György Kolonics died before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 26-year-old swimmer Dale Oen from Norway died in 2012 before London, they were sports legends in their countries. Both died of heart failure. The list of athletes who died from this cause is very long. Not a shorter list can be made of the athletes who died from heart attacks. The same Tatarstan lost 20-year-old Yadgar Karimov, 22-year-old water polo player Vladislav Timakov because of heart problems.

After banning Trimetazidine, WADA goes for Latvian Mildronat (meldonium). Photo: Maksim Platonov

It might seem that it's logical to reinforce fight for life and health of professional athletes who wear their heart out, but after banning Trimetazidine, WADA goes for Latvian Mildronat (meldonium). This happened in 2015, after the ''Crimea-is-ours'', and inertial gases – xenon and argon – were also banned together with the heart medicine used by athletes from Eastern Europe due to its low price. It was developments of Soviet scientists. It's not excluded that ammonia gases, better known as smelling salts, will be banned too. During the 2018 FIFA WC, German journalists from Bild newspaper already tried to draw the public's attention to the fact that the Russian football players inhaled smelling salts, the journalists even made up a piece where they ''proved'' that ammonia was consumed ''to increase endurance and speed''.

Andrey Serdinov: ''I competed with a generation that didn't play with such things because it ruins your health''

Representatives of the medical community fail to understand the feasibility of the introduction of a substance to the ban list. To make it clear: the drug banned by WADA is considered doping, not that really does harm to life or health of athletes. ''Bans on certain substances have no foundation,'' thinks director of the Volga sports academy's research centre Radik Yakupov.

According to him, we can talk not only about the notorious meldonium. WADA can exclude substances only on the basis of pharmacological description, almost without any open research on their ambiguity in elite sport, the excretion period.

The doctor of biological sciences concludes that a part of banned substances can be nothing but placebo doping.

''I competed with a generation that didn't play with such things, including because real doping ruins your health,'' states Olympic bronze medallist in swimming Andrey Serdinov from Ukraine: ''No medal is worthy of your and your future children's health. We keep in touch, everyone has healthy children, I personally have three.''

But Serdinov's logical conclusion isn't authority for WADA, and athletes' life and health aren't a reason to lead a fight against real doping. As WADA's regulations say that a substance that's able ''to enhance sporting performance'' can be recognised as doping. This line permits the organisation, which simultaneously has legislative and executive functions, augment the scale of its manipulations many times. The question: in favour of whom?

You may ask what America has to do here

In an exclusive interview that Realnoe Vremya's readers will be able to acquaint with soon, Andrey Serdinov remembered that America was a real leader in world swimming throughout his sports career: ''Its federation, USA Swimming cooperates with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and SPEEDO carbon swimsuits on American swimmers were a collaboration with NASA. Apart from it, NASA developed technologies thanks to which a human's biological clocks could shift to any time for 2-3 days: Asian, American, European. Moreover, the timetable of competitions at the 2018 Olympics was overturned to favour American television. The thing is that as time goes by you get accustomed that preliminary heats, semi-finals are in the morning, and the kick-off was in the evening local time. You tune for it somehow. While semi-finals in Beijing were in the evening, the finals were scheduled in the morning local time. While it's was in the evening in America, and the transmission was at prime time.''

A recent situation at the 2018 Olympic PyeongChang can confirm Serdinov's words when all competitions were in the evening local time, consequently, one could watch them all day long at Moscow time, which seemed quite comfortable. But figure skating began at 4 a.m. Moscow time, while it's was 10 a.m. in Korea. This was done for American TV viewers for whom transmissions began at 8 p.m. American TV companies have been among the major IOC sponsors for decades already, they pay and place an order for a convenient time to start competitions, if not music.

Shamil Tarpischev: ''Nobody knows the outcome of their check''

America does nothing but keeps manipulating WADA's decisions, including through head of the American anti-doping agency (USADA) Travis Tygart. He so often expresses his opinion about the activity of the Russian laboratory, holding competitions in Russia and its participation at the Olympics that he could become a candidate for the post of RUSADA's press attaché a long time ago. As this hasn't happened yet, we turned to the IOC Executive Committee member Shamil Tarpischev for a comment.

''It's great that RUSADA has been reinstated. This brings us back to the number of leading sports powers that can independently control anti-doping processes. Plus, it noticeably cheapens checks. But RUSADA has been reinstated with a condition that we will meet a series of obligations. Previously, the list of complaints about us included a fact that we didn't give previous doping test samples back. Now we've decided to do it, which allowed to reinstate RUSADA. But nobody knows the outcome of their check. In this case, even the option when we will compete with no fresh doping sample can not help. And the situation in the future might be even worse than that before the 2016 Rio or 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. As opponents of the reinstatement of Russia as one of the full-fledged sports powers don't even need to make up anything new, as the trail of complaints on previous cases is left. Though, from a perspective of not sports but big politics, it's not an attack on sport but the country in general. I remember a fact when Spain didn't give previous doping test samples, and this didn't have any consequences.''

The situation in athletics remains the main problem for us before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The IAAF still has complaints about it. While it's a huge loss for the national team that won't be able to compete in 45 sports disciplines, Tarpischev concluded.

''It's manageable chaos,'' Serdinov concludes. ''Any country can be 'stopped' and shut by the same scenario that's used in the situation around Russia by disqualifying from the Olympics. I will put an example of an American doctor who took part in doping schemes by selling banned substances. He believed that current sport around the world can't be taken back to the state when one could do without doping. ''You will never change athletics and weightlifting, swimming.'' It's what he said. It's a huge business. By estimates, the annual turnover of narcotics is $70bn. The annual turnover of banned substances with anabolic action is about $50bn. How is it possible to destroy this?

Meanwhile, I talk with my colleagues, they say to me that the substances WADA accuses of taking don't even ''put high'', this doesn't work. In case of Russia, there was a certain reason, whose victims are athletes, to influence some political processes through it. And my forecast, as I go into all this by talking with other athletes, is that Russia will watch the Olympics in Tokyo on TV.

By Dzhaudat Abdullin

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