KettlebellKettlebell Sport

What Does the Russian Doping Scandal Mean for Kettlebell Sport…

Wow, social media has been alive with articles and videos being shared, and filled with comments and conversations about the recent Russian doping scandal. The kettlebell sport community was shown a video from youtube with IUKL president Igor Solodov and coach Anton Anasenko regarding positive test results for Ivan Markov and Vladimir Kobzar.

Here is the video…

For my English speaking friends, I asked a friend to translate the video for us, I got a very amusing translation…

“He mumbles a lot, it does not make sense. Not sure he actually addressed the question, he went around in circles and said there have been problems with this in the past…”

So we do not have a clear explanation from the IUKL on what happened. Piecing information together from some other sources, what most people believe happened is this; Markov and Kobzar were tested during the IUKL world championships in Latvia last year 2018, and we all assume the tests came out clean as nobody is saying they failed that test. These test are administered by RUSADA, the Russian office of WADA, the results are never made public but they are available to the IUKL and the country reps. Then, in April, at the IUKL cup of Russia, Markov and Kobzar were tested again. Another key detail here is that the athletes are normally tested AFTER they compete, but at the cup of Russia, Markov was tested before and after the competition, then he was tested again at the Russian Championship this month (September). Now suddenly there are accusations and reports that Markov’s “B sample” from the Cup of Russia in April was either tested positive or disappeared. It is unclear to me from talking to many sources what is truth and what is fact. Mister Solodov also claimed that it is WADA who is to secure the B sample and keep it secure, when it is actually RUSADA who is to secure the B sample and keep it safe.

Right after all this information was put out to the kettlebell sport world, the sports world was hit with news from the BBC and the NY Times and Washington Post and other news agencies that Russia could be facing a ban from all sports in the Olympics after WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) has opened a formal compliance procedure with Russia and RUSADA after discovering “inconsistencies” in their database. WADA has been asking to see the RUSADA database and B samples for many months following the 2016 doping scandal and the Russian athlete ban. Since then, the IOC has given WADA the power to investigate countries and ban athletes. Finally, after months of pressure, WADA was given access to the RUSADA database and their are claims that B samples are testing positive and other claims that B samples have altogether disappeared and also the database information is not matching up with the B samples.

Here is the Washington Post article…

And here is the BBC article…

I have asked several people if they believe the the IUKL doping scandal and the WADA/RUSADA doping scandal are connected and all believe it is. Clearly there is an issue with RUSADA and Russian athletes testing positive but still competing, and RUSADA is either hiding the results or making the B sample disappear.

So, what does this mean for kettlebell sport? Truly we will not know until more information about the IUKL and RUSADA and the Markov test comes out, right now we do not know the entire truth so please let us not jump all over Markov or disrespect him, please do not let us pass judgment on him and his career until the entire truth is known. Until then, the other issue lies in whether or not WADA and the IOC will ban Russian athletes from competition again, and further the next issue is whether or not IUKL will abide by the WADA rules and their decision upon completing this current investigation. Some people I spoke with said right now IUKL just has observer status and therefore if there is any ban on Russian athletes it will not effect IUKL and IUKL competitions, but, that then leads to the question if IUKL does not follow the ban or they do not comply with further WADA and IOC rulings, will that destroy their observer status? And looking further down the road what does this all mean for kettlebell sport and the World Games being hosted in the USA in 2021? We are only a little over a year out from the World Games and the IUKL is still in the application process to be in the demonstration sports category as the first step on the path to full inclusion into the World Games and hopefully the Olympics. But IUKL still has not been approved as a demonstration sport by the World Games. All we can do is hope that IUKL will abide by the IOC and WADA regulations and that this incident did not damage their credibility or hurt their chances of becoming an Olympic sport.

Personally, I think that kettlebell sport needs to be divided into tested and untested classes, the same as powerlifting. At this point, we have seen multiple athletes in kettlebell sport test positive or be banned on suspicion of PED use, and this all leads to corruption and money and politics. Offering an untested class removes most of that corruption, but once an athlete competes untested they are marked and will never get into the Olympics if our sport ever becomes an Olympic sport. Some people say that having tested and untested classes is not possible as kettlebell sport is currently so chaotic and unorganized, and those people make a very good point and while on one hand I do agree with them, on the other hand powerlifting also has two large international organizations and dozens of US national organizations, and all of them have tested and untested classes. I believe that this is a situation where once one organization does this the others will have to follow suit or risk going bankrupt as clean tested athletes will flock to the organization that goes to two separate classes. I also know that cost is an issue with drug testing, but here in the states most tested athletes are proud to compete in tested classes and the honor system works, especially when the untested athletes can just go compete in the open class and not care. If you would like to read more about my thoughts on dividing kettlebell sport into two classes, I wrote an article last year all about it, you read it HERE.

For now, let us just wait for the dust to settle a little and wait to hear for more truth to come out. There will be a large meeting in Serbia at the IUKL World Championships where a lot of questions will be made and hopefully answered.

***If there are any mistakes or non-truths in this article please feel free to message me or leave a comment and I will make the corrections. Thanks!***

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