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    Ivanchuk facing 2-year ban

    New Delhi (IANS): After the Championship Cup being damaged and the diamond from its crown being stolen, world chess is in for another round of unsavoury controversies. Vasily Ivanchuk, Ukraine's leading player and World No. 3, could well be banned for two years for not taking a dope test after the final round of the Chess Olympiad last month at Dresden.

    The FIDE president, Kirsan Ilyumshinov, himself has indicated that Ivanchuk could face a two-year ban. Also, all his games at the Olympiad could be annulled. That would not only put a big question mark on the career of one of the leading and talented chess players over the past decade and a half, but could also lead to a redistribution of medals won at Dresden.

    Ukraine could also lose the prestigious Gaprindashvili Cup given to the team with the best combined score among men and women after the main championship. However, this was not the only controversy, which hit the chess Olympiad.

    On the way from Dresden to Ukraine the trophy was seriously damaged, and a diamond on its crown was stolen. The Ukrainian team was carrying the cup as hand luggage on a flight from Dresden, but when they changed flights at Frankfurt airport they had to check the cup into baggage for the rest of their journey. When they landed they saw the cup damaged and the diamond missing.

    While opinion on dope test in chess has been hotly debated, the rule had been announced before the Olympiad. FIDE has been keen to implement the rule, because it wants to be recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and ultimately wants chess to be an Olympic sport.

    While Ivanchuk's is a high-profile case, even if the FIDE takes action against him, it will not be the first time for such an instance in chess. In 2004 at the Calvia Olympiad, Shaun Press (Papua New Guinea) and Bobby Miller (Bermuda) were adjudged guilty and had their points stripped from their team's total for refusing to provide a sample to doping control. In both cases their team total and position dropped dramatically.

    Many top players feel Ivanchuk should be sanctioned but not suspended but some in FIDE, including the president feel that a decision to ban Ivanchuk would send the message down the line among players and also 'bring them closer' to the IOC. Ivanchuk was one of the players randomly picked for a dope test at the end of the Olympiad.


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