Saturday 29 November 2008

FIDE gets it right on drug testing

What can losing your temper after crashing in really big match cost you? In the case of Vassily Ivanchuk and the Ukrainian team, nothing!
The Ukraine's went in to the final round of the 2008 Olympiad needing a win over the United States to have a chance at finishing 1st, with the Armenian's (who they were tied with) having to play China (which was a slightly tougher pairing IMHO). History now shows that the Armenian's beat China 2.5-1.5 while The Ukraine was crushed by the USA 3.5-0.5. Clearly The Ukraine's were devastated by this result, as the Open team failed to attend the prize giving, leading to some awkward moments when they were caled upon to collect the Category A First Place trophy.
As it turned out, The Ukraine were also to be subject to a drug test under the drug testing regime in place at the Olympiad. This meant that at the completion of the game the players were required to go to doping control and submit a urine sample.
However after his loss to Kamsky, Vassily Ivanchuk failed to do this. Instead he left the playing area in a highly emotional state, and began to vent some emotion. I was standing outside the playing hall, alongside New Zealand delegate Bob Gibbons, and witnessed Ivanchuk kick a large concrete pillar, then bang his fists on the food service counter a couple of times, before storming past where we were standing, into the cloak room area of the venue, all the time being followed by a couple of officials.
Chessbase reports they were unsuccessful in getting him to doping control, and as a consequence he missed the test. This, according to regulations, counts as a positive test, and should result in a disciplinary hearing. Possible sanctions include a 2 year suspension from chess, or the loss of a players or teams points.
In 2004 both myself and Bobby Miller (Bermuda), refused to provide a sample to doping control at the Calvia Olympiad. We were then subject to a highly flawed disciplinary hearing (one member of the panel being a player I defeated earlier in the event), and at the end of the hearing we were both found guilty and had our points removed from the teams total (eg PNG went from 23 down to 15.5 points in the final standings).
So faced with a higher profile name then either myself or Bobby, and the possibilty that the 4th place team would be effectively disqualified, FIDE finally did what they should have done all along. They simply ignored Ivanchuk's offence and declined to hold a hearing. I'm not sure how they will explain this to WADA (World Anti Drug Agency), but I'm sure they'll find a way.
So now I find myself in the odd position of praising FIDE's stand on drug testing in chess. But praise them I must. Now all that remains is for Bobby Miller and myself to have our points from Calvia restored to the official records.


Anonymous said...

What this does now result in is that another player can refuse to take the drug test and then use precedence of decision as their defence and 'get off'.

This one decision to not even hold a hearing should spell the end for drug testing in chess.

Anonymous said...

If it had happened after an early round and the press had run with it the course of events may well have run differently.

transformation said...

glad to finally reread you. fantastic blog... had you here on RSS feed for months, and now catching up!

loved this post.

-Niké- said...

Needless to say, it´s not fair. Ivanchuk is a sportsman and he must act like one. It´s his duty to respect the rules of a competition and it´s FIDE´s duty to be consequent and forfeit all players equally, or forget about all the anti-doping paraphernalia

James said...

There's more to the story: FIDE may ban Ivanchuk and annul his games after all:

This, on top of arbitrarily reorganising the World Championship cycle (yet again), is rapidly spelling the end of FIDE's credibility. Shirov thinks FIDE should be banned!

Anonymous said...

Why do seemingly write with great glee that you skipped out on a doping test? Why thumb your nose at the protocol if there is an accepted one in place? Testing in chess seems ridiculous, but they are the rules. I'm not sure what the point of your tone is here.

Esalen said...

Has anyone ever been tested positive in chess? This drug testing is redicilous, and I think you should support Ivanchuk for taking the same stand as you did in 2004. It was wrong to judge you then, and it is wrong to judge Ivanchuk now.

I take the opposite view as you. If Ivanchuk had been like Topalov and Kramnik, nothing would have happened, but Ukrainians have been violated a long time in the top chess world.

If anything happens to Ivanchuk now, it is good night to chess from mine part. Than I just had enough from FIDE and non-board games.