11 January 2018

FIDE's Ethics Commission 2017

After last week's post about FIDE's Anti-Cheating Commission 2017, there remains one more topic flagged in Spectating the 88th FIDE Congress (November 2017): the Ethics Commission. In the 2016 post, Chess Ethics and the Suspensions of Federations (January 2017), I noted that details about the commission's decisions were henceforth recorded on the subdomain ethics.fide.com. What big ethical issues confronted FIDE during the intervening year? Three issues dominated the discussion during the Executive Board (EB) meeting in October 2017 (see the 'Spectating' post for links to the original documents):-

  • Cheating
  • Bulgaria
  • Kovalyov case

The cheating cases were 3/2015 (M Sandu against 15 other players for '"witch-hunting", namely a case of targeting a chess player in a public smear-campaign with accusations of cheating based upon fears and suspicions unsupported by any concrete evidence'), 8/2015 (FIDE against I Tetimov), and 2/2016 (FIDE against A Ricciardi). The Ethics Commission chairman, Francois Strydom, noted,

One of our cases was ground-breaking in the area of anti-cheating measures and for the first time we relied on Prof. [Kenneth] Regan’s calculations and his statistical method. He has to be thanked for his analysis to give us evidence for cheating. There was not enough behavioural evidence. He referred to the past debate with Deputy President [Makropoulos] whether there will be instances when only a computer evidence will be enough to convict someone.

The Bulgaria case is ongoing and related to last year's post on 'Suspensions of Federations'. The commission's report said,

Case 5/2016: Complaint by FIDE General Assembly regarding alleged fictitious transactions between the European Chess Union (ECU) and the Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF) during 2011-2014 and the use of an imposter corporation named European Chess Union LLC -- whether BCF and/or any individual implicated -- Matter still in investigatory phase -- If prima facie case of wrongdoing against identified bodies or persons is found to exist, matter will proceed as a disciplinary proceeding for violation of FIDE Code of Ethics.

At one point in the EB discussion, Strydom summarized the main issues:-

What we are talking about is two categories of potential wrong-doers. The case of million of euros diverted to a false bank account. He said we identified these individuals and we are ready to proceed against them. They are the main culprits. The issue raised by Mr. Makropoulos is about the rest of the Bulgarian Board which turned a blind eye.

In a related action, among the Executive Board 2017 Decisions (fide.com) were 'To temporarily exclude the Bulgarian Chess Federation', and 'To approve that the players from Bulgaria to play under FIDE flag'. Specfic consequences of the decisions were announced a few days later in Bulgarian Players, Arbiters and Trainers (fide.com).

I haven't mentioned the Kovalyov case on this blog, so I'll first refer to a Chess.com report, Dress Code Incident At World Cup: Kovalyov Forfeits (September 2017):-

Anton Kovalyov today forfeited his game with Maxim Rodshtein in round three of the FIDE World Cup in Tbilisi, after being asked to change his attire. Upset about how he was treated, the 25-year-old Canadian grandmaster decided to leave the tournament immediately. [...] Ten minutes before the start of the round, Anton Kovalyov was approached in the playing hall by Chief Arbiter Tomasz Delega. The arbiter asked the player if it was possible to wear long trousers, instead of the shorts he was wearing, as this wasn't complying with the tournament's dress code. [...] Then Kovalyov was approached by chief organizer Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who told him that he should change his attire. When Kovalyov asked why, Azmaiparashvili replied: "Because you look like a gypsy!"

After an ethics complaint was raised by Canada against GM Azmaiparashvili, the commission made a snap ruling a few days before the EB meeting, FIDE Ethics Commission Statement in regard to the Kovalyov case (fide.com):-

This statement is released on occasion of the meeting of the FIDE Ethics Commission (EC) in Antalya, Turkey on 9 October 2017. Its purpose is to make known the EC’s decision in case no. 2/2017 and the reasons for the decision in the light of the wide-spread interest in the matter. [...] On 27 September 2017 the EC received a formal complaint against the organiser of alleged breaches of the FIDE Code of Ethics from the Chess Federation of Canada (CFC). The CFC asserted that it was acting "in and for itself and on behalf of GM Anton Kovalyov". The complaint was not supported by any statement by the player. [...] Without authority from the player, it is not possible for his federation to proceed with the complaint on his behalf. Also, the standing of the CFC to act as the complainant in its own capacity, is dubious. It is required that a complainant must have a direct and personal interest which was adversely affected.

Case no.2/2017 is now marked 'Case rejected'. This might be the fastest decision ever made by the Ethics Commission.

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