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President of the Handball Federation of Russia (HFR) told about the upcoming Olympics and rising attention of the World Anti-Doping Agency to the Russian players. On the eve of the opening of the Olympic Games President of the HFR Sergey Shishkarev told to Alexey Fomin, “Izvestia” reporter about the objectives of the women’s national team in Rio de Janeiro, doping tests and work of the HFR.

Have you ever allowed a thought that the International Handball Federation (IHF) might forbid some of Russian players to participate in the Olympics?

In March when this whole meldonium scandal started I personally met with coaches and players os all national teams and we thoroughly discussed that reception of any forbidden medications is out of question. The reason didn’t matter – weather taken for stamina of for physical condition. The most serious talk was with the women’s national team that was already preparing for Olympic Qualification in Astrakhan. In summer doping scandal reached a large scale and the girls understood that they couldn’t risk so much, so all medication if needed were taken after careful consideration with the doping rules compliance.

As for the doping tests, we were already tested during the March Olympic Qualifications. Tests as usual were unexpected. Doping officers took samples of eight handball players and all returned negative.  Prior to departure for Rio they underwent another round of tests – at Novogorsk (Moscow region) training camp. On 22 July the team returned from the friendly game from Netherlands and the decision was made to reduce the team to 15 members – Olga Chernoivanenko and Kseniya Makeeva had to stay home due to the injuries. On 25 July we were informed that WADA officers will come the next morning and they have sent the instructions that stated that all 15 players plus 2 girls who where substituted had to be on site, available for tests if necessary. So, we had to ask Chernoivanenko and Makeeva to come back to Novogorsk immediately regardless the emotional state of the girls who left the city few days ago crying because they couldn’t go to Rio with the team. Can you imagine how hard it must have been for those two to come back specifically for the tests? I’m grateful to Olga and Kseniya for doing everything possible for the team. It was a completely ridiculous situation for the logical point of view. It would be another thing if they wanted to test 2-3 players by random sampling, but they decided to test the entire team. However we wanted to give no excuses to doubt any of our girls. In the end 17 girls were tested and after a few days I’ve got a call from the President of the IHF who informed me that our team is clean and gets access clearance for the Olympics.

In addition to the above the girls were tested again after they arrived to Rio. On Sunday four girls were tested, on Monday – two more. Some of them are tested at 6:00 AM, others are “fished out” from the breakfast. It is definitely too much and out of proportion. Why don’t we start every morning with this – they can create a specialized laboratory in the Olympic village for the Russian delegation with separate toilet, so they can directly give samples for examination.

Is the injury of Ludmila Postnova a strong blow for the team?

Postnova is a great player. Maybe in the playing sense there can be a substitution for her but she was also very important because of her spirit – she is the example of toughest will-power and professionalism. We really wanted her talents and work to be rewarded by Olympic medal. However she is very upbeat, says that she is ready to train and play again. We are happy that the team has such leaders as the captain Irina Bliznova who will fight for medals, fight for Postnova.

Have you already set the objectives for Rio?

Our plan is get as high as possible. The team is ready to step on the pedestal. The team’s line-up is very strong and quite well-balanced. The representatives of Rostov-Don HC showed their skills and compliance to the European level of play, getting to the quarterfinals of the Champion’s League in the last season, where they missed only one goal to the Romanian “Bucharest” – the Champion of the tournament.

When will you arrive to the Olympic village?

I will come on Friday morning, on the opening day. I plan to stay there till the end of the Olympic Games, together with the team. I specially arranged everything in a way, so my long stay in Rio wouldn’t affect my work. Now four fifth of my time I devote to the team to show them that the head of the Federation is supporting them and will shield them from any possible negative situations such as non-objective referring or non-sanctioned WADA testing.

Anna Sedoykina in her July interview to “Izvestia” told about the financial difficulties of her “Dynamo” HC (Volgograd)…

Volgograd also suffers financial difficulties in the men’s club “Kaustik”. I’m in touch with their head coach Dmitry Bocharnykov, we try to find sponsors. In case of SKIF HC we were successful – we managed to persuade Krasnodar bank “Kuban-Credit” to return to the sponsorship even in smaller amounts than before.  We will also do everything possible to solve problems of “Dynamo”, I’m very grateful to their handball school that nurtures such talented players. At the last youth world championship where we brought home silver and gold, it was Volgograd trainees who formed the main framework. They keep showing great results regardless the financial problems. And we together with the Head of the Board of Trustees Dmitry Rogozin try to help the clubs. I hope that the results of the Olympic Games with help us interest new sponsors who can help low-budget clubs and we will prove to the Government the reasonability of helping regional sports clubs.

How much did you spend on the World Women’s (U20) Championship, held in Moscow in July 2016?

Organizational costs were 160-180 mln rubles. One fourth was provided by the HFR, other one fourth – by the IHF and the remaining amount was covered by the Government of Moscow and the Moscow Committee on Sport. I would give us 5- for organization. Minus is for attendance – lower than we wished. It is bad for the players and bad for the marketing. However we’re not alone with this problem – other countries not always have a good attendance rate. A year ago we held a similar tournament in Ekaterinburg and we had a full-house at the final match where Russia didn’t play – 7 thousand people audience. We underworked our task this year. I hope we will do better the next time. We had no reproaches in terms of organization – Moscow knows how to organize large-scale sports events. All-in-all we are pleased with the result of our team, even though we lost to Denmark in the finals. We have a difficult time with Denmark, but on the previous week in Bratislava our U-18 women’s team won gold, repaying Denmark for U-20 silver.

What is the current budget of the HFR?

Ministry of Sport of Russia and the Olympic Committee covered the flights and the stay of our national team in Rio, I’m very grateful for that. And the remaining budget is about 200 million rubles. It is entirely formed from the non-budgetary funds – sponsors and philanthropists.

Source – “Izvestia”