Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Basketball’s international governing body, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), has suspended the Russian Basketball Federation (RFB) from FIBA due to ‘interference’ from the ‘old management’ of the RFB, which has reached an ‘unacceptable point’ in the running and conduct of the RFB. On Wednesday the RFB published a letter from FIBA on its website stating that the Executive Committee of FIBA had decided to disqualify the RFB with immediate effect.
In the letter addressed to the RFB’s President, Yulia Anikeeva, and signed by the FIBA President and General Secretary, Horacio Muratoire and Patrick Baumann, FIBA explained the reasons for its actions. Despite assurance to the FIBA it claimed that RFB’s current conduct cast doubt on the authority of the RFB and the execution of the regulations governing its competition in Russia.
According to Reuters this decision by FIBA comes after ‘years of instability at the RFB, which culminated in a court decision that forced the federation to hold new Presidential elections.’ Yulia Anikeeva, the current President of the RFB, was elected in August 2013 but the results of the vote were contested, resulting in a court telling the federation to hold new elections. In December 2013 Moscow’s Presnensky Court reportedly ruled that Anikeeva’s election was illegitimate following a lawsuit by the Perm Territory Basketball Federation, whose nominee was defeated in the original election. In March 2014, following an appeal, the Moscow City Court reportedly upheld the earlier decision annulling the original elections.
FIBA’s letter continued that, despite the presence of FIBA’s President in Russia, and after numerous meetings, real change had not happened within the RFB. It said that neither had any of the parties shown any proper intention to instigate the change needed for the unity and stability of the RFB.
Under FIBA’s General Statutes, Article 7, which outlines the criteria that a national basketball federation must following in order to become a member of FIBA, states that the federation must ‘fully control and govern both men’s and women’s basketball in its country, and is in good standing in that country.’
FIBA’s suspension applies to all Russian national basketball teams, suspending them from all international competitions. However, the suspension does not apply to the Russian national teams and officials who are currently taking part in FIBA competitions.
The FIBA Executive Committee, in accordance with FIBA’s General Statutes, have invited the RFB to a meeting at the FIBA Central Bureau in Tokyo on 8-9 August in order for the RFB to provide an explanation of the situation and its development, which FIBA stated that they hoped would be ‘satisfactory and lead to the lifting of sanctions.’
The Russian news agency TASS reported that Sergey Chernov, one of Russia’s FIBA Executives, had told them that Russia’s Sports Ministry and its Olympic Committee (ROC) were now considering FIBA’s ruling, adding that Russia’s participation in the European Championships and 2016 Olympics were now in doubt.
According to TASS, the Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that he would personally hold negotiations with the administration of FIBA and promised to ‘personally talk to FIBA in order to resolve the situation’, continuing that Russia should ‘not be treated like this.’ Mutko reportedly told TASS that the government was ‘not interfering with the affairs of the RFB.’
The news agency also published comments from the former NBA player Andrey Kirilenko, whom it also said was a candidate for the RFB Presidency in any new elections, in which he said that FIBA’s sanctions were extreme. Kirilenko reportedly said that ‘the sooner the issue with elections is settled the sooner the work will start’, but that RFB’s legitimacy and transparency issues should ‘not the reason for introducing in an ultimate manner such sanctions.’