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The Russian Situation

Chengdu, CHN - 24 September © Roland

During his stay in Chengdu, WDSF President Lukas Hinder recorded the second instalment of "Skype The Prez," the informal exchange on topical issues between him and Athletes' Commission chair Ashli Williamson. This time it was an authentic Skype conference call, with some 7,500 km separating the two parties - and the difficulties inherent in relying on the quality of the Internet access at both locations. Only three topics were discussed: the work of the Competition Manipulation Task Force, the specifics of a recent case of alleged competition manipulation that led to the provisional suspension of an ajudicator, and - last but not least - the situation regarding the Russian DanceSport Union that has been downgraded to provisional WDSF Member and is under threat of expulsion by 31 October 2016.

Because of the urgent nature of the topic, the exchange concerning Russia is published on this blog already today. Post-production on the "Skype The Prez" video will take some more time.

Ashli: It is a delicate matter and a difficult situation. We discussed it among the athletes and the Athletes’ Commission. From the chair of the commission I came with a statement at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in reference to the Russian situation. To the extent that if there were any problems within the Russian Federation that Russian dancers would still be able to participate in all championships and WDSF competitions and to ensure that  the political situation would not affect the dancers.

THE PREZ: As you know there has been a very serious internal conflict in Russia and this has created significant problems for DanceSport in Russia and our Member Body, the Russian DanceSport Union.  Of course we have always sought to support the Russian Sports Ministry and the NOC in this difficult situation, but circumstances inside Russia have become intolerable for our athletes and officials.

After some two years of these conflicts continuing, WDSF’s members at our AGM in Rome in June this year overwhelmingly agreed with the WDSF Presidium that the opposing groups needed to unify under RDSU in the interests of DanceSport, the athletes and officials by 31 October 2016.  If this unification is not achieved under RDSU by that date, then the WDSF Presidium is obliged by the AGM vote to expel RDSU and take over the administration of Russian athletes, adjudicators and officials for a period of time.

We encourage our Russian friends to do all that they need to do so that WDSF is not obliged to intervene.  However, if a solution is not found by 31 October, WDSF will act.

Please be assured that the Presidium and I will not let down our Russian athletes, adjudicators and officials.  We will take care of them and do whatever is necessary that international DanceSport will continue for Russia for as long as it is necessary under the WDSF administration. Whatever the costs!

Ashli: Some of the dancers have contacted us and asked, “Should we buy our tickets for the Moscow GrandSlam? Will it take place? Should we book and buy the visa?” Of course you cannot give any guarantees, but from the WDSF side, are we sure that the GrandSlam will take place?

THE PREZ: I confirm that we have been assured on more than one occasion that the Grand Slam events at the end of October in Russia will be proceeding as scheduled.  I just asked again very recently – and this information is up-to-date. We are sure that the GrandSlam will happen and that the event will be run in the interest of DanceSport. Believe me, at the end of October, Russian DanceSport will still exist. It has a future. Great athletes in a great DanceSport country! All that cannot be destroyed just because a few egos do not have the guts to bring about real change. This is my statement to you, to all athletes and to the officals in the RDSU executives.

Ashli: It’s good to hear that the WDSF is doing everything it possibly can to solve the situation and to do it in the best possible way.