PtG Article 06.11.2017

Russian sports minister pulls out, replaced by head of US anti-doping

Ten days after confirming his presence, sports minister Kolobkov has surprisingly sent his apologies. He will be replaced by another key actor in the recent doping debate,Travis Tygart, head of USADA, and Silke Kassner, a co-founder of a new athletes’ organisation.

Contrary to the expectations, there will be no sports minister at Play the Game 2017 to explain the position of Russia in this important hour for the anti-doping debate. Ten days after receiving confirmation that sports minister Pavel Kolobkov would come to Eindhoven, the ministry wrote in an email Friday 3 November that

“Unfortunately, due to some internal issues and confirmation of previously discussed governmental event at the same period, Minister will not be able to attend Play the Game event this year.”

Play the Game’s international director expresses his disappointment, but hope there will be other opportunities in the future:

“We think Minister Kolobkov made the right and well-considered choice when he first accepted engaging in a public debate in our independent forum. It is of course disappointing that something or someone has come between him and our audience in Eindhoven, but we appreciate the original intentions,” Jens Sejer Andersen says.

“Fortunately, we have been able to replace him with personalities that are in each their way leaving a clear mark on the anti-doping debate.”

The most well-known of the two new speakers in the Opening Session is Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA for the past ten years. Tygart has become widely known not only from taking on American sports heroes like Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong, but in the past year also as one of the most active voices demanding reform of WADA in the light of the Russian doping scandals and the IOC’s reaction to them.

On the panel with Tygart will be Silke Kassner, co-founder of a brand new break-out organisation for athletes. Together with colleagues from the Athletes’ Committee in the German NOC, where she is the vice-chair, Kassner recently decided to form a fully independent athletes’ association. Moreover, she has solid knowledge of anti-doping through her function as vice-chair of the National Anti-Doping Agency of Germany.

And not to forget: As planned for long, Play the Game’s Opening Session will also feature no less than the President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the IOC member and former international badminton president and chair of the British Olympic Association, Sir Craig Reedie.

In more than 40 sessions, over 150 speakers will present their thoughts and opinions on a wide range of the most topical questions in world sport during the tenth Play the Game conference, taking place in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 26-30 November 2017.Discover the programme and the continuously updated speakers list.Sign up now and secure yourself four days densely packed with debates, discussions and networking between experts and professionals from sport, media and academia.Read more and register