Russian Gymnasts Ask FIG to Reverse Viner’s Suspension
Moscow, March 16 – Russian gymnasts turned to the President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) Morinari Watanabe with an open letter, which was at the disposal of the News Agency, in which they asked to disqualify the President of the All-Russian Federation of Rhythmic Gymnastics ( VFCG) and the head coach of the Russian national team Irina Viner.
In early March, the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF), an independent disciplinary body set up by FIG, suspended Viner for two years and banned her from participating in any capacity in FIG’s international competitions and events. The actions against the head of the WFCG were associated with the withdrawal of the candidacy of Russia’s Natalya Kuzmina from the elections to the Fifa Technical Committee in Rhythmic Gymnastics in 2021, as well as her public statements following the performance of the Russian team at the Tokyo Olympics, which were recognized as offensive and in violation of the FIG rules.
Viner’s suspension will start counting down a day after the FIG’s preventive measures were lifted, consisting in not allowing Russian athletes to international competitions due to the situation in Ukraine. Sanctions against Wiener will take effect if protections are lifted within five years, otherwise the suspension will be reduced.
Here is the text of the letter (spelling and punctuation preserved):
Ms. Fenner has dedicated her entire life to the development of rhythmic gymnastics, starting at the age of 11 as an athlete and national champion. Then, as a specialist, he prepared dozens of boys and girls for international competitions and coached the Uzbekistan national team. Since 1992, for more than 30 years, Irina Alexandrovna has been the coach of the Olympic Training Center, and since 2001 she has been the head coach of the Russian national rhythmic gymnastics team.
For more than 40 years, Mrs. Viner has brought up dozens of champions and medalists of the Olympic Games and has made an invaluable contribution to promoting rhythmic gymnastics all over the world.
Irina Alexandrovna trained and coached not only Russian athletes, but also gymnasts from 29 countries, including Japan, the USA, Great Britain, Israel, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia and Australia, members of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIG). Ms. Fenner helped build the training system for gymnasts in other countries from scratch, and nonchalantly shared her vast experience with foreign colleagues.
These facts are well known to you. Behind them lies the most important thing: Irina Alexandrovna’s absolute devotion to rhythmic gymnastics. For her, this sport – noble, beautiful and complex – is a matter of age. She is trained by God. We are confident that the living legend of Olympic sports deserves a fairer treatment from the International Gymnastics Federation. A long-term suspension of Ms. Weiner would seriously harm rhythmic gymnastics as an Olympic sport. Thanks to people like Ms. Weiner, our sport is growing and thriving.
In view of the undeniable prestige and services of the world of rhythmic gymnastics, Ms. Weiner, we ask that you make every effort to restore justice and overturn the disqualification,” the letter reads.
Further, the authors of the letter give a list of 29 countries to which Wiener contributed to the development of rhythmic gymnastics: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Egypt, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Cuba, Moldova, Poland, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia, Syria, Slovenia, Slovakia, USA, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Finland, France, Czech Republic, Sweden, Japan, South Korea.
The letter is signed by Alexandra Merkulova, Alena Makarenkova, Alisa Tishchenko, Anastasia Bliznyuk, Anastasia Tatareva, Angelina Shkatova, Anna Gavrilenko, Angelika Stupilo, Arina Averina, Daria Avtonomova, Daria Klisheva, Daria Shchernakova, Daria Shchernakova, Ekaterina Selezneva, Irina Dzyuba , Irina Chashina, Ksenia Dudkina, Ksenia Polyakova, Margarita Alievchuk, Maria Kravtsova, Maria Tolkacheva, Olga Glatsky, Olga Kapranova, Polina Orlova, Svetlana Putintseva, Tatyana Gorbunova, Victoria Anikina, Yulia Barsukova, Ulyana Donskova, Vera Biryukova, Amina Zaripova , Vera Cecina, Elena Romanchenko.
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