Ukrainian sports shaken by a high-profile corruption scandal


Ukrainian Paralympic athletes are among the best in the world. This is evidenced by the mountains of awards won at the Paralympics, Deflympics, as well as the World and European Championships. All these awards are generously paid by the state in the hryvnia equivalent, and this is where the fun begins. By Inna Vizir and Yurii Marchenko

At once, four Paralympic athletes accused their coaches and officials of extorting from prize money. We are talking about Inna Vizir, Serhiy Yemelyanov, Iryna Guseva and Yurii Marchenko.

Inna Vizir is a three-time De-Olympic champion in karate, two-time silver medalist of the Olympics for athletes with hearing impairments. Four-time world champion and three-time European champion. Inna said that she brought her first “kickback” back in 2013. For what and how much?

“In 2013, I won the “gold” and “bronze” of the Deaflympic Games, after which I was told in a direct text that I had to give 10 percent of my premiums, – said Inna Vizir. — The money is charged to our card, but I had to transfer it to cash and take it to Kyiv to the head of the Federation of the Deaf of Ukraine, Leonid Kosytskyi. The amount was considerable, because for this success I was charged 1 million 200 thousand hryvnias, and I gave 10 percent. I was told that these funds will go to charity. Although I think that they did not go to any charity.

In 2017, at the Deflympiad, I won awards worth 4.5 million hryvnias and also gave away 10 percent of this amount. Then we all went to Kyiv together, and only I personally gave 500 thousand hryvnias. There were also bonuses for the World and European championships, and I also gave 10 percent each. It was about huge sums, I tried to protest, but they told me:

“Just give it back, otherwise you will have neither funding nor scholarships.” And there really are such examples. For example, karate player Maksym Beleniuk did not give 10 percent for the 2021 World Championship medal, and he was dismissed from the national team. In total, over the years of my career, I gave away approximately 910,000 hryvnias.”

Two-time Paralympic rowing champion Serhiy Yemelyanov supported his sports colleague. In addition, during his career he won four world championships and four European championships. Now he works in Georgia, because he says that nobody needs him in Ukraine. “For many years, such a system has been operating in Ukraine – every Paralympian must give 10 percent of the premium received for the Paralympic Games, World and European Championships to his regional “Invasport”, Serhiy Yemelyanov wrote on his social media page. — About a month after I received the bonuses for Rio-2016, I was reminded about this 10 percent. I refused to pay. I was reminded about three or four times that I needed to share. The head coach of Paralympic academic rowing personally collected funds from the athletes and took them to the head of the regional “Invasport”.

Serhiy added that only after the Paralympics in Tokyo, their coach handed over $48,100. This is for two gold and one silver rowers’ medals. We will remind that at this Paralympics Ukrainians won 98 medals, of which 24 were gold, 47 were silver and 27 were bronze. The state values ​​each “gold” at $125,000, “silver” at $80,000, and “bronze” at $55,000. If the scheme described by Yemelyanov really works, then our athletes with physical disabilities gave a fantastic amount of their blood money. At that time, the state paid 8 million 245 thousand dollars only to athletes, of which 824 thousand had to be returned. And the trainers of the athletes receive bonuses, and they also share them, they say.

“The decision to end my sports career was made by the “higher management” instead of me. When I refused to give ten percent for premiums after Tokyo, real psychological pressure began on me, – says silver medalist of the Paralympic Judo Games Iryna Guseva. “That’s why they didn’t renew my contract and just threw me out.”

Blind athlete-judoka Yury Marchenko from Pavlograd, Dnipropetrovsk region, also confirmed on his social network that athletes are constantly under moral pressure and that 10 percent of premiums go to levies for officials of city and regional branches of “Invasport”.

By the way

The president of the National Committee of Disabled Sports of Ukraine, Valery Sushkevich, believes that this is all a planned action against him and against the Paralympic movement of Ukraine. Valery Mykhailovych is now on a business trip abroad, but he found time to express his vision of this scandal.

“During the entire time that I have been the head of the Paralympic Committee, there was only one case when they tried to take money from athletes,” says Valery Mykhailovych. — I intervened in this, they explained to me that the funds were collected for the transportation of large-sized sports equipment, because it was not provided for in the budget. We solved it all and I have not heard about such problems again.

Regarding the current situation, about this ten percent. We have created two commissions that will look into this situation in Poltava and Rivne. Currently, there is only information and no reliable facts.

A lot is unclear. For example, Inna Vizier. We know her personally. She always called me, and I solved her life and household problems. We were always in touch with her. So why did she never tell me about these 10 percent fees she’s been paying for ten years? Maybe they were not there?”

Republished from Ukrainian newspaper Express.

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