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Tue, February 27, 2024

World Athletics v Yury Moisevich

World Athletics v Yury Moisevich

A decision in the case of World Athletics (WA) against Yury Moisevich has been issued by the Disciplinary Tribunal.

Mr Moisevich participated in the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo (the “Olympic Games”) as the Head Coach for athletics and Team Leader of the Belarusian Athletics Federation (the “BAF”). Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (the “Athlete”), a 100m and 200m Belarusian sprinter, who had represented the BAF in international athletics competitions since 2015, was also in attendance at the Olympic Games as she was to compete in a number of events. 

On 30 July 2021, the Athletics Integrity Unit (“AIU”) announced that 18 athletes had been deemed ineligible to participate in the Olympic Games because the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules (the “WA ADR”) were not met by the athletes’ “Category A” Federations. As a consequence of the AIU’s announcement, three Belarusian athletes were barred from competing and the Athlete was therefore entered into the Women’s 4x400m relay event (the “Event”), an event that Ms Tsimanouskaya had not participated in before, without her knowledge. The Athlete voiced a critique of the leadership of the BAF via an Instagram video (the “Instagram video”). Due to the significant attention and adverse comments the Instagram video attracted, it was removed on the same day, 30 July 2021. 

On 31 July 2021, the Athlete, upon the instruction of the BAF, was interviewed by a Belarusian national television channel during which she acknowledged that the Instagram video resulted from an emotional reaction and for which, she apologised. 

From 30 July to 1 August 2021, the Athlete had numerous communications with members of the BAF and the Belarus National Olympic Committee (the ‘NOC’), including Mr Moisevich. Some of these meetings took place in person, others were only by telephone. In particular, were the two in-person meetings with Mr Moisevich, which the Athlete recorded covertly on her mobile phone.

Several BAF coaches and other personnel from the BAF delegation attended a meeting in which, a written report concerning the Athlete’s mental health, prepared by medical staff, was assessed and it resulted in the decision that the Athlete should be sent home. This was communicated to the Athlete on 1 August 2021. 

Upon arriving at the airport, the Athlete sought assistance from local Japanese law enforcement to prevent her from being placed on a flight back to Belarus. The Athlete was interviewed at the airport, transferred to a hotel, and on 2 August 2021, the Athlete formally requested assistance from Poland, where she remains to this day.

On or around 6 August 2021, the IOC revoked Mr Moisevich’s accreditation and subsequently expelled him from the Olympic Village on account of his involvement with the Athlete’s departure. Following an investigation, the AIU charged Mr Moisevich with violations of the Honesty, Dignity, and Protect Reputation Integrity Standards (respectively, Rules 3.3.1, 3.3.10, and 3.3.17 of the Integrity Code).

The Disciplinary Panel, comprised of Mr Lucas Ferrer as Sole Arbitrator, was appointed to hear this matter. 

Mr Moisevich rejected all charges brought by the AIU and maintained that he genuinely believed that the Athlete was in a highly emotional state and not in the correct frame of mind to compete. He further alleged that his actions were appropriate given the highly charged and difficult situation at hand, that the covert recording of the conversations with the Athlete was incomplete, and that if the events indeed brought the sport into disrepute, this was not a result of his conduct. 

The Tribunal outlined the issues in accordance with the Honesty, Dignity, and Protect Reputation Integrity Standards (respectively, Rules 3.3.1, 3.3.10, and 3.3.17 of the Integrity Code) and addressed each alleged violation in turn.

Pursuant to Rule 3.3.1 of the Integrity Code, the Tribunal found the medical assessment and other documentary evidence discussing the Athlete’s supposedly altered mental and emotional state lacked credibility. It was plausible that Mr Moisevich provided false or inaccurate information in the course of events leading up to the Athlete’s departure from the Olympic Village. It was further accepted that the Respondent was aware of the substantial amount of influence he had over the other members of the delegation and appreciated that his judgement and conclusions would not be questioned by the others. The Tribunal therefore found that the Respondent had acted in violation of the Honesty Integrity Standard.

 The Disciplinary Tribunal accepted that the Dignity Integrity Standard requires individuals to refrain from engaging in any form of harassment or abuse. On balance, the Disciplinary Tribunal found that the manner in which Mr Moisevich and the BAF delegation’s leadership chose to respond to the Instagram video was a clear affront to the Athlete’s dignity and an abuse of their position of power vis-à-vis the Athlete. The Tribunal therefore found that Mr Moisevich had acted in breach of Rule 3.3.10 of the Integrity Code.

The Disciplinary Tribunal’s interpretation of the Protect Reputation Integrity Standard implied that due consideration for the public exposure of a given violation and the resulting public perception was to be assessed in determining whether the conduct was indeed injurious to WA or the sport. The Disciplinary Tribunal noted, in the evidence presented which reflected media coverage from around the world, that the news focused more on the safety concerns for the Athlete upon her return to Belarus, the Athlete seeking asylum, and the political situation in Belarus at the time. The Disciplinary Tribunal was not convinced that WA itself or the sport of athletics was directly injured by the Respondent’s conduct, which in turn, did not amount to a violation of Rule 3.3.17 of the Integrity Code.

The Disciplinary Tribunal thereby determined that Non-Doping Violations had been established pursuant to Rule 3.3.1 and 3.3.10 of the World Athletics Integrity Code. A period of Ineligibility of five (5) years is imposed. The period of Ineligibility commenced on the date of the decision, 20 February 2024, and bars Mr Moisevich from participating in any capacity in any aspect of athletics and/or in any activities authorised, organised, controlled, recognised, sanctioned, and/or supported in any way by WA, Area Association, or any Member Federation.

Sport Resolutions is the independent secretariat to the World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal.

A copy of the full decision can be accessed via the related links tab on the right-hand side.

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