Jelena Välbe supports Putin – can still be re-elected to the Fis regime

Like almost the entire sports world, the international ski federation Fis has expelled Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition.

A couple of federations – such as the International Biathlon Federation – also have expelled the national federations from the Communitybut in Fis, the ski world’s perhaps most famous Russian on Thursday can gain new confidence in the organization’s highest decision-making body.

It’s about one post as a board member of the so-called Fis Council. And the main character is the former Olympic and World Cup gold medalist Jelena Välbe, for many years chairman of the Russian Ski Association.

Välbe has previously expressed support for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – and called Ukrainians Nazis:

– The world will understand us, the ski base has told Russian Championship according to the site Inside the Games.

– It is clear that Nazism should not exist as it does.

Now she is one of 23 candidates running for 18 board seats at Fi’s annual congress.

What would it say about Fis if she gets elected?

– It is really not good if it would be that way, it would give completely wrong signals and it would not be logical, says the Swedish Ski Association’s chairman Karin Mattsson.

– The principle is that she represents Russia, that is the main problem. Then, of course, it gets even worse when she expresses these sympathies.

Together with Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, the Swedish federation has wanted Välbe declared ineligible before the congress. But Fi’s statutes make it impossible.

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– According to the statutes, there is no support for her not being allowed to stand. But then you can discuss it. If active people are not allowed to compete, this should be fairly close. We wish that Fis had stated that it had the same principle as with the active.

Are you disappointed?

– I do not think it feels good.

The Swedish Ski Association’s chairman Karin Mattson.

Photo: Simon Hastegård / Bildbyrån

Karin Mattsson’s assessment is that it “would be unlikely” if Jelena Välbe is re-elected given the strong support that has existed for Fi’s decision to stop Russian skiers.

However, there is one factor to take into account: In an effort to become more equal, it has been decided that three women will get a place in the management. And there are “only” five female candidates.

– Fis has a bit left to walk when it comes to an equal board. At this annual meeting, three women will be elected. It is really a step in the right direction, but it makes this question extra special. But there are several other good candidates, so we can really hope that this solves the democratic way.

Deidra Dionne (Canada), Magdalena Kast (Argentina), Fiona Stevens (New Zealand) and Anne-Chantal Pigelet (France) are alongside Välbe the women candidates.

Who gets Sweden’s vote?

– We want a little, but will have a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) when we will decide on it.

Among the males the candidates hope Sweden will get its representative Mats Årje re-elected.

In other respects, the Swedish-British Johan Eliasch is expected to be re-elected as Fis chairman. Other expected decisions during this week’s congress are Falun as ski World Cup organizer 2027 and equal, ie equal length, distances for ladies and men in cross-country skiing.

– It is an important symbolic question, says Karin Mattsson.

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