Vassily Ivanchuk - Doping Test Controversy

Doping Test Controversy

Ivanchuk was playing on board 1 for Ukraine in the 2008 Chess Olympiad held in Dresden. Going into the last round Ukraine was second with decent chances of placing 1st, and only a strong loss against a 10th-seeded USA would leave them without a medal. Ivanchuk was chosen to be tested for illegal substances in his system immediately after the last round.

In a major upset, the USA defeated Ukraine 3½ to ½ with Ivanchuk losing his game against GM Gata Kamsky, causing Ukraine to fall to fourth and miss out on a medal. Ivanchuk was in such a distraught state after the game that he was seen "kicking a large concrete pillar" with such fury that bystanders were surprised he did not break any toes. When the officials tried to get Ivanchuk to participate in the doping control, he refused and stormed out. Missing the test is equivalent to being tested positive under the rules and could have resulted in a 2-year ban. Had it been enforced, its effect might have been minimal as many major tournaments are not under the control of FIDE and would likely still invite a player of Ivanchuk's caliber.

Under FIDE rules, a player found guilty of doping charges automatically forfeits all his or her games in the event concerned. This had previously happened to two amateur players who refused doping tests in the 2004 Chess Olympiad in Majorca. There was speculation that if this rule were applied to Ivanchuk, it would result in the USA's bronze medal being stripped and awarded to Hungary due to a change in tie-breaks.

Ivanchuk was eventually found innocent of the charges, on the basis that he was not informed of the need for the doping test beforehand by a Doping Control Officer, in accordance with correct FIDE procedure, and that in his distraught frame of mind, he had not fully understood the arbiter's request.

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