The Russian Basketball Federation (RFB) has been suspended by governing body FIBA, putting their participation in the 2016 Olympics in doubt.
This comes after years of instability at the RFB, which culminated in a June court decision that forced the federation to hold new presidential elections.
Yulia Anikeeva was elected the RFB’s president in August 2013, but the results of the vote were later contested and a court told the federation to hold new elections.
These are due to take place on Aug. 25 and former NBA player Andrei Kirilenko is set to stand as a candidate.
FIBA said in their letter that interference in the running of the RFB was behind their decision.
That claim was contested by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who said they would be prepared to contest the suspension at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“I will fly there myself to meet with them (FIBA) and take care of the situation. You can’t deal with Russia like this,” Mutko told TASS.
Russia won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, and defending its medal will be difficult. Russia could qualify for the 2016 Games with a top-two finish at Eurobasket this year, but as of now, the country can’t even compete in that event – let alone the Olympics. Russia could get another chance at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which was how Russia qualified for the 2012 Olympics. Again, that will require ending this suspension.
With NBA players Timofey Mozgov, Alexey Shved and Sergey Karasev, Russia has potential to compete in these events. But the political issues apparently come first.
Maybe Kirilenko will help.