Ethics Commission convenes in Lausanne, Switzerland

Left: Ravindra Dongre (IND), Rajesh Josh (NEP); Right: Francois Strydom (RSA), Yolander Persaud (GUY)

January 2020 (Y Persaud):

The new body of the FIDE Ethics Commission (EC) recently met in Lausanne, Switzerland- now the home of FIDE’s head office, on the 23rd and 24th November, 2019 – to conduct an oral hearing (Rausis matter) and decide on eight (8) other cases. The caseload concerned three cheating cases (Rausis, Morgunov and Dias Matos); three cases on unfair disciplinary hearings (Sudan, and two cases from Nigeria); one case concerning alleged defamation (Surov) and one case concerning alleged discrimination (Eroglu). One case (Elgendy) concerns the alleged use of a forged letter and is still ongoing.

The most prominent of the nine cases was Case 8/2019: Igor Rausis’ cheating case, brought before the EC by the Fair Play Commission. Prior to the oral hearing, Rausis was provisionally suspended by the EC pending investigations, upon the request of the Investigatory Chamber (IC). At the oral hearing in Lausanne, the EC heard evidence by the expert witness Professor Kenneth Regan on his statistical analysis of Rausis’ games in the period of October 2014 – April 2019, as well as testimony from Rausis himself, in which he admitted to cheating at Strasbourg and confessed his guilt in 3 other incidents of cheating at previous tournaments. Rausis was found guilty of multiple violations of the FIDE Code of Ethics, and was sanctioned with a worldwide chess ban of 6 years (until 30 July 2025); his Grandmaster title was also revoked.

New FIDE Ethics Commission meets in Lausanne, Switzerland

Left to right: Ravindra Dongre (IND), Francois Strydom (RSA), Yolander Persaud (GUY), Rajesh Josh (NEP)
Standing left to right: Yuri Garrett (FCC), Rajesh Joshi (Nep), Francois P Strydom (SA), Ravindra Dongre (Ind)
Sitting: Dr Kenneth Regan (expert witness), Yolander Persaud (GUY)

Cases 1, 2 and 3 of 2019 all concern similar threads of unfair disciplinary hearings, where bans were imposed by the relevant federation on the Complainants without due process, thereby violating the fundamental principles of fairness and justice. In Case 1/2019, the EC found that the disciplinary actions taken and bans imposed by the Sudan Chess Federation (SCF) were in violation of fundamental principles of fairness and justice, and the bans were therefore set aside. Respondents 2 (Omer Deab) and 4 (Maher Musa) were sanctioned for overstepping their powers, into the sphere and jurisdiction of FIDE when they falsely announced a FIDE ban on the Complainants. A reprimand and fine of US $1000 was imposed on them; failure to pay the fine would result in a ban of 1 year.

In both Cases 2/2019 and 3/2019, the ETH found that the disciplinary actions taken by the Nigerian Chess Federation (NCF) against the complainants violated the fundamental principles of justice, and as such the bans imposed were set aside. In both cases the invitation letters were found to be inadequate, and the legitimacy of the composition of the disciplinary committee was in question. The NCF President (in both cases) was found not guilty of the alleged abuse of power. The EC assumes jurisdiction over the NCF’s complaint against the Respondent in both Cases 2/2019 and 3/2019, and will conduct itself an enquiry de novo in relation to the alleged misconduct.

In Case 4/2019, the FIDE Presidential Board submitted a case against Marc Morgunov (a minor) for admitted cheating at 2018 EYCC. The Respondent already faced disciplinary measures by the Austrian Chess Federation (ACF), and voluntarily subjected himself to non-participation globally in all FIDE rated tournaments during the time of his domestic ban. The EC noted the delay between notification of the ACF decision to FIDE and the matter being referred to the EC some 11 months later. The EC sanctioned the Respondent with a worldwide ban of 24 months from participating as a player in any FIDE rated chess competition, of which 7 months of the ban has retroactive effect from the commencement date of the ACF Sanction and 17 months of the total ban is suspended on certain conditions. The result is that Morgunov is practically subjected to a probationary period of 2 years.

In Case 5/2019, a complaint was submitted by Kirill Zangalis and Sergey Karjakin against Evgeny Surov for posting an allegedly defamatory tweet on Twitter and also publishing it on a chess website. The Russian Chess Federation (RCF) sanctioned the Respondent for the conduct complained of by banning him from visiting official events and sports competitions held under the auspices of the RCF. The EC held that the complaints were inadmissible because they failed to raise issues regarding the practice or administration of chess as a sport, but rather related to a personal conflict. Additionally, it was not considered an international matter in its true sense, and the adjudication of the case by the RCF at a national level was deemed sufficient to serve the interests of justice.

Case 6/2019 was brought by the FIDE Fair Play Commission against Nicholas Gabriel Costa Dias Matos (a minor) for admitted cheating at a rapid tournament in Santa Catalina, Brazil in March 2018. The Respondent has since withdrawn completely from chess participation. Taking into account the delayed investigation of this matter, the EC sanctioned the Respondent to a worldwide chess ban against participation in any FIDE-rated chess tournaments for a period of 18 months, to take effect retroactively on April 25, 2018.

Case 7/2019 concerned complaints by (1) Mostafa Mokhtar and Maher Elameir and (2) the African Chess Confederation (ACC) against Hesham Elgendy for alleged use of forged letters. The complaint brought by Mokhtar and Elameir were held inadmissible for want of actual and direct personal interest in the complaint. The complaint of the ACC was declared provisionally admissible and will be subject to further exchange of statements regarding the merits of the complaint.

Lastly, in Case 9/2019, the FIDE Presidential Board submitted a case against Mr. Mustafa Eroglu (Turkey) and Mr. Tural Zeyanlov (Azerbaijan) regarding a discriminatory incident at the Sivas Buruciye tournament in Turkey. Eroglu was found guilty of failing to perform his functions as assistant to the LOC in an impartial and responsible manner and was therefore sanctioned to a 12 months suspension. The complaint against Zeyanlov was held to be inadmissible for want of sufficient proof of wrongdoing.