The IIHF Independent Disciplinary Board has issued a five-year suspension to Belarusian Ice Hockey Association (BIHA) President Dmitri Baskov.
The decision comes following a ten-month investigation by the IIHF Disciplinary Board, which found Baskov to be in violation of the IIHF Code of Conduct. The Board cited sufficient evidence that Baskov has tried to directly influence others to support the Belarus government and has threatened and discriminated Belarusian athletes because of their political opinion, violating Rule 184.108.40.206 of the IIHF Code of Conduct. The Board also determined that Baskov abused his position as a representative of ice hockey in order to support the current President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, violating Article 5 of the Olympic Charter in connection with Article 2.1 of the IIHF Disciplinary Regulations and Rule 220.127.116.11 of the IIHF Code of Conduct.
On 25 November 2020, the IIHF informed the BIHA and Baskov that it had started an inquiry into his alleged involvement in an incident that had led to the death of the Belarusian citizen Roman Bondarenko. The incident happened on 11 November 2020 at the Square of Changes in Minsk, where a group of people had met to cut off the white-red-white ribbons which are indicative of the political opposition of Belarus. Bondarenko, a Belarusian citizen, was attacked and severely injured during the incident, and died from these injuries the following day.
The IIHF subsequently received reports from the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation (BSSF) and commissioned an independent investigation firm to conduct a review of the publicly-available information regarding the allegations that Baskov had been involved in the incident that led to the death of Bondarenko, and any acts related thereto.
Based on the evaluation of media reports, audio recordings and photographs, the firm considered that although it cannot be excluded that Baskov was present at the event, it did not find evidence for an active involvement of Baskov in the attack against Bondarenko. Moreover, the firm mentioned that Baskov is assessed to be an avid supporter of the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and has participated in pro Lukashenko political rallies in 2020. In June 2020, Baskov wrote an open letter critical of athletes who supported the Belarus’ opposition movement. The firm also mentioned that it was reported that Baskov, in his capacity as sports executive, fired several “unreliable” athletes and coaches.
In its report, the BSSF accuses Baskov of having been closely involved in the offense against Bondarenko on 11 November 2020. In addition, the BSSF accuses Baskov of the violation of the right of freedom of opinion demanding that Belarusian athletes have to support President Lukashenko and may not criticize the regime. Further the BSSF accused Baskov of violating Article 5 of the Olympic Charter by using his position as a leading sport official to support President Lukashenko. Both the BSSF report and the firm’s report confirm that Baskov has close personal ties to President Lukashenko as well as hockey connections with two of the President’s sons.
On 7 December 2020, the IOC Executive Board came to the conclusion that the leadership of the NOC of Belarus has not appropriately protected Belarusian athletes from political discrimination within the NOC, their member federations or the sports movement, which is contrary to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter and therefore seriously affects the reputation of the Olympic Movement. Accordingly, the IOC Executive Board excluded, among others, Alexander Lukashenko in his capacity as NOC President and Baskov in his capacity as an NOC Executive Board Member.
After consideration of the various reports, a review of all the facts ascertained, and following a formal hearing with Baskov, the Disciplinary Board’s Deciding Panel determined that the evidence provided by the BSSF give reasonable cause that Baskov could have been present at the event of 11 November 2020. However, this was not sufficient proof of Baskov’s involvement in the incident that led to Bondarenko’s death.
The Deciding Panel determined, however, that there is sufficient evidence that Baskov has tried to directly influence others to support the government and has threatened and discriminated Belarusian athletes because of their political opinion, violating Rule 18.104.22.168 of the IIHF Code of Conduct, and that he has abused his position as representative of ice hockey in order to support President Lukashenko, violating Article 5 of the Olympic Charter in connection with Article 2.1 of the IIHF Disciplinary Regulations and Rule 22.214.171.124 of the IIHF Code of Conduct.
In the opinion of the Panel, it is one of the five Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter that sport organisations shall apply political neutrality. As a well-known representative of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association, member of the NOC, former manager and current chairman of the board of HC Dynamo Minsk, Baskov is bound by this principle and was found to be in violation of said principle.
The decision on the disciplinary measure imposed on Baskov follows from IIHF Code of Conduct Rule 5.2 and IIHF Disciplinary Code Article 5.1. Considering the violations which Baskov is found to have committed, the Panel is of the opinion that a suspension from all ice hockey activities for a period of five years is adequate.
Baskov is suspended from all national and international ice hockey activities for five years, commencing 10 September 2021, ending 9 September 2026.
The original article can be found here.