British masters official aghast that Auckland WMG allows Russians

Bridget Cushen, former WMA Council member, is British masters secretary

I’m warming to these World Masters Games. They let anyone come and play — the spirit of the founders of WAVA in the mid-1970s. Back in the day, the likes of David Pain and Bob Fine rebelled at restrictions on who could run and jump at worlds. They went to bat for “professional athletes” and South Africans during the Apartheid era. Now comes longtime British masters official Bridget Cushen, challenging the Auckland WMG for — horrors! — allowing Russians into the track meet. Bridget sent this note recently: “If you have been following the World Masters Games … you may not be totally surprised to see several Russian competitors competing and winning medals in the T&F section. [International Masters Games Association], the World Masters Games Board always claim to run the T&F under IAAF rules. They claim their quadrennial World Games are based on the Olympic model. WMA are not allowed to accept Russian entries at the moment and EMA tried to allow them but were warned by WMA.” She added: “If you check on the governors of IMGA, the IAAF vice president, Sergey Bubka, is listed and so is Sir Philip Craven (Paralympics). And Lord [Sebastian] Coe is listed as an ambassador. Not room for a masters [exhibition] race in London [at 2017 IAAF worlds] but a blind eye to the Russians competing in an international Games that they promote! I’m surprised the press have not spotted this.”

Russia’s Vitali Romanovich, a past WMA world champion, used the dive straddle to win the WMG M50 high jump at 1.76 (5-9 1/4). Photo by Rob Jerome

Well, the press (including me) didn’t stop to look for these satan-worshiping dope-addled Russkie cheats because it made no difference to the integrity of the meet. If WMA wants to mimic IAAF, it would also offer prize money, establish qualifying standards and have a record book worth a damn.

But just for giggles, I forwarded the Cushen critique to the Auckland LOC and the IMGA.

On Wednesday, the IMGA issued this statement:

World Masters Athletics and World Masters Games rules differ in that, at World Masters Athletics events, athletes represent their countries.

At World Masters Games events, athletes do not represent their countries. They compete as individuals within their chosen sports. While there are a number of Russian athletes competing at WMG2017, some of whom choose to dress in national colours and carry national flags, they are competing as individuals, not representing Russia.

As these individuals have met the criteria for their chosen sports, i.e. they are of the required age and have agreed to the WMG2017 Terms and Conditions, no exceptions are required to enable their participation.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. National federations aren’t paying our way to world meets. Athletes are. If they have the dime, let ’em take a lane.

Russian masters are as likely to be part of the “doping machine” as those of any other country. Painting them with the same dirty brush as the kiddie elites was a mistake.

I’m happy for the Russians in Auckland. The founders of WAVA would be too.

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April 26, 2017

12 Responses

  1. tb - April 27, 2017

    An interesting contrast to the last article.

  2. ventsi - April 27, 2017

    Very well said, Ken! You are the MAN!
    Very well said, IMGA!
    The hatred of some Westerners toward Russians, even toward their MASTERS athletes, is difficult to be assimilated.
    I even wonder how a master sports person can prefer Russian masters being excluded from WMG. To continue with establishing perfect “justice”, masters from countries with political dictatorship regimes, or suffering from civil wars, etc., etc., can also be excluded.
    The road to fascism will be cleaned.
    We have to thank IMGA rules for not allowing this.
    WMG are a very nice sport event, with joyful, friendly, atmosphere. It is a pity that someone tries to spoil it by initiating a completely unnecessary scandal.
    I will be glad to compete against some “satan-worshiping dope-addled cheating Russkies (MASTERS)” in Toronto 2020 (WMACS), if they are allowed (until then) to take part. And I will even dare to talk with these Devils.

  3. Anthony Treacher - April 27, 2017

    Unfortunate that Bridget Cushen adopts this anti-Russian masters athletes and anti-WMG stance. It is against the interests of her British masters athletes.

  4. Track Fan - April 27, 2017

    Good for WMG. I’m sick of this witch hunt attitude.

  5. Richard - April 27, 2017

    Ken and all, it should be noted that Bridget Cushen is not against the Russian athletes, and it is not an anti-IMGA, it is the fact that WMA have had to followed the IAAF ruling in banning all Russian athletes (except where they have been granted exception) and the masters have not been granted any exception, even though WMA have tried, but the New Zealand athletics who are running the athletics for the IMGA, (as an IAAF Member) has allowed the athletes from a banned country to compete whilst WMA and EMA cannot let them compete, and regardless of the response from IMGA it is the athletes that are banned, as they are part of the Russian association, so they do not meet the criteria. Finally in WMA competitions the athletes also are “individuals” who pay their own way, but have to be properly validated by their affiliated body, not like in the case of the 101 year old from India or other that may be “banned” for any reason or in some cases gives false information. And WMA athletes represent their countries in the team events “Relays etc” but otherwise they are individuals. So lets us get the item in perspective before everyone star calling other nonsensical names and making silly remarks.

  6. Milan tiff - April 27, 2017

    I retired from the record books because of, ” What country are you from ” ( WAVA ) for mandatory team oriented concepts ( WMA ) Payton Jordan and the founding fathers would have retired too.

  7. Mary Harada - April 27, 2017

    “oh the horror”!

  8. Anthony Treacher - April 27, 2017

    Now tell me. How did we athletes benefit by WMA preventing Russian masters athletes from competing with us at WMA Daegu?

    How do we athletes benefit by WMA not recognising our results from WMG Auckland?

    BMAF’s Bridget Cushen and WMA should start thinking positively, and outside the box, on these issues.

  9. Ken Stone - April 27, 2017

    Time for an ancient history lesson.

    Back in 2003 and 2005, I highlighted conflicts of interest in WMA. Major leaders were profiting from (or at least promoting) masters games against WMA rules. Those rules have gone away. But the hypocrisy remains.

    Check these out:

    I called the scandal “mastersgate.” Time to revive the phrase?

  10. Doug Smith - April 27, 2017

    That’s the first thing I thought when I saw all the Russian entries in the Athletics events.
    The WMG chose to disregard the IAAF/WMA ban – which is their business. However, don’t be surprized if the WMA fails to recognize and record applications from the meet.

  11. Lorraine Tucker - April 27, 2017

    No one should be excluded from any of the “Masters Games “. These multi sport events are popular because they offer holiday fun & games.
    Dont spoil the games with politics.

  12. Russ Dickenson - May 4, 2017

    Hi Ken
    I think our alliance with IAAF is invaluable, but it seems a bit of a stretch to say we have to do everything by their book.
    I do like the old idea that everyone is welcome and if Russians want to compete, I think that’s great. I would suggest that Russian Masters Athletes are no more likely to be doping than any other Nationality. The more the merrier.

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