FIBA has eased its stance on the Russian Basketball Federation and decided to lift a ban barring Russian national teams from competing in FIBA sanctioned international tournaments. The decision comes less than two weeks after the governing body made its original sanction in response to the RFB’s inability to clear up a presidential row that was causing politic strife within the federation.
The effect of FIBA’s original ban is currently being felt as the U16 Russian team was forced to sit out the ongoing U16 European Championship in Kaunas, Lithuania, despite qualifying to play in the competition. However, the lifting of the ban comes at a crucial time as it does mean that the Russian men’s senior team will be able to hit the courts of the European Championship earlier next month.
It had looked as though the FIBA ruling had nixed Russia’s plans for the coming tournament and by default next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (the Euro’s serve as a qualifying competition for the Olympics).
“Today, during a session in Tokyo, FIBA made the decision to allow Russian national teams to compete in international tournaments,” the RFB said on its website (www.russiabasket.ru).
“This means that Russia will be able to compete in the European Basketball Championships,” the federation said.
FIBA has not revealed why it changed its original July 29th ruling, although the organization made it clear that bans against specific members of the Russian Federation would remain in place. The first ban was reached as FIBA had been frustrated by the RFB’s repeated failures to clear up a dispute over the voting for current federation president Yulia Anikeeva. A regional court could not solve the problem, and FIBA’s hand was forced, although perhaps the fact a new election has been set for August 25th cooled FIBA’s stance.
“Russian national teams will be able to take part in all FIBA’s tournaments, however sanctions in relation to members of the RFB will still remain in place,” the Russian Deputy Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told the R-Sport agency.