kamila walijewa

Child athletes are too valuable for the Olympic system to set age limits

The Olympic Games thrive on high-performing children – some of them so young that they are not even allowed to compete in the Youth Olympic Games. Jens Weinreich discusses why it is so hard for Olympic sports federations to set age limits and shows how it leaves child athletes vulnerable to authoritarian states chasing medals and sport glory. (First published by Play the Game)

The doping case of Kamila Valieva has raised questions about a minimum age for Olympic athletes. Again. The age rules are defined very differently in the seven Olympic winter sports federations. It is no different among the summer sports federations. Age regulations sometimes differ even within these federations, depending on the sport, discipline, or gender. In the International Skating Union (ISU), a proposal to raise the minimum age in figure skating from fifteen to seventeen years failed most recently in June 2018. Of course, at the ISU congress at the time, the Russians also voted against this proposal.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) at its 2007 Session in Guatemala. Why are there these global competitions called YOG, when at the same time children participate in – how shall we say: real – Olympic Games? Why is there so little coordination? Why has not even the IOC, as the sole owner of these circus events, reminded us of these Youth Games in the bitter discussions of the past weeks?

Compromat. KGB. FSB. GRU. A brief intelligence overview of Vladimir Putin’s relationship with the IOC

KGB officer and former FSB boss Vladimir Putin and Vitaly Smirnov, honorary member of the IOC, honorary president of the ROC, organizer of the 1980 Games in Moscow – head of the so-called investigation committee on doping in Russia, and, of course, a former KGB spy. (Photo: Imago/Evgeny Biyatov)

Once again, a dubious institution, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), has ruled in favour of the Russian doping system. Why is that? Why are the rules repeatedly bent in favour of the Russians? Why is Russian influence still so great after all the doping and corruption scandals?

The most important answer is, of course: Vladimir Putin and the oligarchs and Russian corporations in his thrall. You will find dozens, maybe even hundreds of articles on this in this theatre here. Two multi-billionaires, Alisher Usmanov and Vladimir Lissin, run the world Olympic federations in fencing (FIE) and shooting (ISSF). The millionaire Umar Kremlev is president of the World Boxing Federation (now IBA) and a member of the Putin-affiliated, nationalist motorbike rocker club Night Wolves. Russian corporations like Gazprom are also active and influential as the main sponsors of some international sports federations.

(You may know that it is risky just to mention the man of honour Alisher Usmanov. His lawyers are quite aggressive about it. Anyway, many other non-Russian current/former IOC members and IF presidents, always very close to Putin: René Fasel, Jean-Claude Killy, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, Julio Maglione, Gianni Infantino, Lamine Diack and many more, most of them very dubious figures.)

Not to forget Roman Abramovich, who played a co-decisive role in the successful bid for the 2018 World Cup on Putin’s instructions. Of course, as in other nations (Qatar in particular, but also England, the USA and the Netherlands), this bid involved numerous intelligence agencies and some of the best-known spy firms on the planet (Kroll, for example).

So, another answer to the questions about Russia’s special Olympic role is: Compromat.

Compromised, possibly incriminating material. The classic, not only in Russia.

Putin and the IOC – a short intelligence review: