TWO Olympiad Scandals

TWO Olympiad Scandals

| 52 | Chess Politics

You knew it had to happen.  Just when you thought that the 38th Chess Olympiad had passed off without any serious off-the-board scandals, two blew up out of nowhere as soon as the event had finished!

The first incident, and perhaps the most serious, concerns the fiery and emotional Ukrainian favourite Vassily Ivanchuk (pictured).  As part of FIDE's crazy dreams of getting chess accepted as a sport in the Olympic Games, they are currently bending over backwards to meet the entry requirements set out by the IOC (International Olympic Committee).  One of these requires the drug testing of participants.

As chance would have it, Vassily Ivanchuk was one of the players randomly picked for a drugs test at the end of the Olympiad.  However, the last round had been disastrous for the Ukrainian team, losing 3.5-0.5 to the USA and being pipped to a medal as a result.  Chucky, being the sensitive guy that he is, was distraught (eye-witnesses saw him kicking a concrete pillar several times in frustration!) and was naturally not particularly in the mood for a drugs test, thank you very much.  Rather than submit to the required doping test he stormed off into the Dresden night to calm down.

Failure to take a doping test is treated as a positive result, and if FIDE choose to follow the rules to the letter, this means that the Ukrainian team should have all their results annulled and the medal placings recalculated.  At the moment that is exactly what FIDE in their wisdom are threatening to do.  Ivanchuk is also to be banned from FIDE events for 2 years for a doping violation.

An ironic and unfortunate side effect of this action would be that the US team forfeit their bronze medal in the Open event to Hungary who would then have a higher score after removing the Ukrainian results.  D'oh!

Can we have a little sanity here?  Chucky was a naughty boy and should have thought of the consequences of his actions on his fellow team members, but if FIDE choose to enforce the ban on him, and annul the Ukrainian team results they are just highlighting how absurd their own policy is.  Hopefully FIDE will find a sensible way to resolve the situation without making it worse, but that's not their usual role in these affairs.

If the Ukrainian team have the book thrown at them, then it has another serious consequence.  The combined score of their Open and Women's teams was the best of any nation, earning them the prestigious Gaprindashvili Cup (pictured).  Which brings us to scandal number two.  On the way from Dresden to Ukraine the trophy was seriously damaged, and a diamond stolen. 

It is unclear who damaged the cup and where the diamond has gone.  The team were carrying the cup as hand luggage on a flight from Dresden, but when they changed flights at Frankfurt airport they had to check the cup into baggage for the rest of their journey.

It's a shame that an exciting Olympiad has to be associated with such controversy.  Putting the emphasis back on the chess, here is Kamsky's win against Ivanchuk in the last round that has caused the Ukrainians so much grief.

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