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Belarus canoe team to bring counter claim against ICF

This week it became known that Belarus is preparing a lawsuit against the International Canoe Federation (ICF) demanding the compensation for moral and material damage caused by the wrong ban on Belarus’ men's canoe team from participation in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Court of Arbitration for Sport has lifted a one-year ban from the men's team, but nobody will return the Olympic Games in Rio to the Belarusian athletes. The Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus (NOC) Anatoly Kotov told the TV program Week who is to blame and what’s going on in the world of big sports.

This week, in fact, the situation with our athletes, the rowers, who were to go to the Olympics in Rio, but had to miss it, has been resolved. In your opinion, was it done intentionally or was it caused by a misunderstanding, an accident?

Anatoly Kotov, the Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus:
Just yesterday we received the court's decision, already complete, with the motivation part. I can assure you: the Belarusian side is fully satisfied with it, because the whole argument, which our opponents allegedly had, was torn to bits. No one from us is guilty for what we have been suspected of. Our athletes were clean, with no doping detected. It’s very difficult to clearly define the motives. You see, on the surface, it is an ethical issue, but under the surface…Who participated instead of us? The Germans who were not selected for the Olympics on the basis of all qualifications, the Hungarians and the Italians. And they all got the medals. In fact, they occupied our places on the podium. According to our estimates, due to all these misunderstandings we missed three or four medals, including the highest prizes.

The Olympics is over. Of course, our athletes can’t participate in it in hindsight. Nevertheless, the compensation demanded is amounted to two million dollars plus legal costs. What are the chances to get this sum of money?

Anatoly Kotov, the Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus:
Just today I returned from Lausanne where we held several consultations, including those with the Swiss lawyers. And our chances are high. Probably, there will be several claims, The reasons are as following: the layers need to examine the legal precedents, because it is the state that bore the costs (it’s not one plaintiff), the athletes suffered, because they couldn’t go to the Olympics (it is a separate case). There is still the issue of foregone salary.

After all, who will pay in such a case?

Anatoly Kotov, the Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus:
In this case, firstly, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) is to pay for the actions of its Executive Committee. The committee is the federation’s executive body, the supreme one, which made the decision. I don’t know for sure how the Court will handle this case and what punishment the federation and the committee will face. However, it will be desirable if those people who just blatantly lied to us get financial penalties. It is a high-profile, landmark case. The ICF warned that in case we go to the Court, we will face a more severe punishment. By the way, it’s another charge against the federation. It is an unacceptable practice of intimidation. For the ICF it was out of the blue. But the members of the federation deserved to be punished for their behavior. Perhaps, they thought that we deleted everything we wrote to them (SMS, emails). Nothing like this. This evidence has been added to the case file.

Belarus has a large sporting event ahead, which is called the Second European Games. How many sports will be represented?

Anatoly Kotov, the Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus:
There are 14-17 sports in our final list now. But, there are many more disciplines in these games. Because some sports depend on their specificity of calculation. We count in disciplines, but Europeans count in sports. Generally, speaking about water sports, which we won’t participate in, they are arranged into four: swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo, and jumping. But we still have quite a lot of sports that are composed of several disciplines. The good news: we will participate in track and field, but the format is not defined yet, so, we don’t know how many disciplines Minsk will host. Fortunately, we have received clear assurances that it will be top-level competitions in Europe and the qualification for the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo.
At the time of the Second European Games, we plan to open the borders for the members and, most importantly, the fans. That is, like during the IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship 2014, they will be allowed to enter the country without a visa.

Anatoly Kotov, the Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus