If you are a part of the KB sport world, even just a little, you should have some idea about this big controversy of women in KB sport and doubles. The Americas are pushing for equality in KB sport. I thing it is most wonderful! I just find that the high speed of changes within KB sport unnerving. I have no idea where to direct my training and no idea what tables are realistic or a complete joke. Single arm lifts for women are based off of very antiquated/”science” based “studies” that say anatomically women can not lift 2 bells. My thoughts: MY BELLS don’t prevent me from lifting 2 BELLS (do you see what I did there??)!!! Apparently, the research that was conducted was based solely on the thoughts of men, and probably they felt ‘threatened’ but the idea that women CAN ACTUALLY DO WHAT MEN DO! I wanted to post an email I received as well as a few comments I saw (and that Lynn sent me) on social media, so that others can make their own choices. It is very wordy. Happy reading!
Letter from Yuri Petunovs:
Name: Yuri Petunovs
Title: AKA President
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter from Yuri Petunovs,
President, American Kettlebell Alliance
Lastly, Douglas Seamans, KB sport fanatic and KB gym owner in Charlotte, NC: (Via facebook).
Dear kettlebell lifters;
I am writing this to clarify some things regarding the IUKL and AKA about female one arm and two arm long cycle. There is a large piece of information very few of you seem to know about or realize. I am going to preface and end this statement by telling you that I am not going to have a back forth squabbling conversation in the comments of this statement, this is merely to inform you of a bit of information that was explained to me earlier this month that I feel should be relayed to everyone. My hope is that you take this information and that some of you take a deep breath and cut people like Yuri and Renee and Misty and even Ginko some slack. Please understand that adding long cycle for women is not as simple as the American or Canadian board and reps from those countries and countries like Denmark and Norway and Sweden and Ireland and the U.K. simply making a request to the IUKL. Yes the IUKL has replied to these requests with a very laughable “scientific study” that we have all been able to make a lot of jokes about and while it has given so many of us a big laugh it has also angered many. Please be both, be amused and be angry. But please also be patient. We all know that the “scientific” explanation is a bunch of bullshit and holds zero merit or actual evidence and it is not why the IUKL and the RGSF has not put women’s long cycle and biathlon into worlds. I have said this many times and I could be banned from competing at European championships and worlds for making this statement so I would also appreciate some slack and some respect for sticking my neck out. There is a man in charge of the IUKL and the RGSF and that man holds the power, that man is also greedy, for money and power. Changing the leadership of the IUKL is part of the key to changing the future of this sport to include women and allow them to participate 100%, not just 25% and be respected and awarded the same as the men. Also, I could be slightly off on my details regarding what I am about to explain to you all and if I am please be polite in correcting me. I also ask to those lifters who have never competed outside the USA, lifters who have never had to argue with a judge or IUKL or RGSF representative in another language with an interpreter in a foreign land with only two people in your corner versus a room filled with people who oppose your view point and opinion to have some respect for those who have. I ask that those who have never won medals outside the USA to have some respect for those who have. I ask those who have only been competing for a couple years to have some respect for those who have been competing for a decade, and I’m not speaking about me, I am speaking about respecting those who have been lifting and coaching for twice the number of years I have. And I ask those who don’t own gyms and don’t use fitness as their professions or their way of life and income to have some respect for those that do. Now, please allow me to explain how complex this situation is…
The IUKL is not a government backed organization. But the RGSF is. And both organizations are run by the same man. The IUKL is a worldwide organization representative from all the countries attending two yearly meeting to discuss rules and competition locations. While the IUKL can operate as it pleases, it mimics and follows the rules of the RGSF. And I will state again, both are run by the same man. But let’s focus on the RGSF, this organization and its leader are the actual obstacle to women performing long cycle and biathlon at worlds. As I was explained, the problem with adding every lift to be open to women is that RGSF is a government agency or office. Now the problem lies in the fact that the Russian government pays the athletes by their lifts and by their medals. So, when a male lifter goes to European championships and does biathlon on Friday, long cycle on Saturday, and jerk relay on Sunday, they can get three pay checks. The amount of their paycheck depends on if they win a medal or if they beat a record. I was also informed that their pay can also depend on how many medals were won the previous year. As it stands now, Russian federation female lifters can only get one paycheck, for competing in snatch. All Russian federation lifters are paid by the RGSF which is a government office. The head of the RGSF answers to the head of the Russian sports authority which controls all the sports in Russia and the Olympic team for every sport. The head of the sports authority answers to someone in the main government who then answers to the big man himself, you know the one who likes to ride horses shirtless. So, in order for the IUKL to add long cycle and biathlon for women, they would have to also get the RGSF to approve paying the Russian federation female lifters for all of those lifts. So now instead of the women only getting one paycheck, they have the possibility of getting three to six paychecks. This isn’t like here in America and Canada where we are free to do what we want in kettlebell sport because it is all self sponsored, in Russia the lifters get a paycheck. Now in order for the RGSF to give more paychecks to the female lifters, the head of the RGSF has to make a request to the sports authority, the head of the sports authority then has to ask the Russian government for more money in next years budget, that request has to go through the main Russian government, which has to be approved by many people, including the shirtless man on horseback. Now, the IUKL could offer women’s long cycle and biathlon either single or double or both, but the Russian female lifters will not be able to compete because it is outside the RGSF rules and guidelines and they won’t get paid for it. Now the female Russian lifters would probably do it just for fun but they are probably risking getting banned for competing outside RGSF rules.
Again I could be a little off on my details, but you see how complex and how high up this goes. Now there is another detail, and that is the fact that RGSF female lifters have not been allowed to compete on anything but snatch and that is all they train, so their lifters are a little behind in development in biathlon and long cycle. If you think the head of the RGSF is going to pass a yes vote on the IUKL allowing females to do long cycle and biathlon at worlds so that Canada and the USA and Ireland or the UK or Denmark or Sweden can stand on the podium you are dead wrong. No way they are going to pass that before they have lifters who can compete for the gold. But really that is just my opinion and not based on facts or conversations with any Russian lifters or coaches, unlike my recital of what was explained to me regarding the RGSF and approval of females lifting long cycle and biathlon and how complicated it is for them to request more money to pay their female
Those of you want to say “to hell with the IUKL we will do our own thing”, that’s cool, and I’m not going to dissuade you or talk bad about you, go for it, but as it stands now the IUKL hosts the largest world championship competition in the world and has the most number of countries. Now if you know me you know I’m not a “go with the herd of sheep” type of person, and I call a spade a spade and I could really care less about your opinion of me but I am also a very social person and I love to spread love and happiness and information, but I am also a realist. I am also a glass is half full super optimistic person. I also know when to jump on an opportunity and when to sit back and wait and plot a plan, to be patient and know that change takes time and many calculated moves. Yuri and the AKA and the CKA and the AIKLF have never shown me or my wife or any female lifter anything but positive support for female lifters on biathlon and long cycle. Women on two arm lifts is new to most of us, so we are trying to run with it and include it and be respectful of every lifters wishes. The AKA and Yuri do not need to come out and make a statement that they support female lifters…because they and he always have! This is like asking Obama to come out with a public statement saying he supports females right to vote. Duh. Of course he does. The lack of a statement does not mean there is lack of movement and action behind the scenes, in meetings and emails and phone calls with the IUKL and the RGSF and the reps of all the other countries. And we all know that money talks, we, the AKA board all know that disrespecting female lifters is a bad thing for the sport and the future of the sport and we all know that lifters will pay registration and seminar fees to where they feel comfortable and where they feel they will be welcomed and where their lifting will be judged properly and where their achievements will be applauded. The AKA always has and will always welcome female lifters and the board is talking constantly about how we can include everyone and award everyone for their accomplishments. But please understand we are truly fighting an iron curtain and an iron fist. Please be patient, please understand that the changes we are all calling for take time. I know many of you are sick of being told to “hold tight”, but seriously, we have plans and there will be action taken this year. But please know that the changes many are asking for require changes going very high up a very corrupt ladder in a county none of us grew up in and most of know very little about other than stories, I can only think of one person who grew up here and lives there and she has helped out a great deal to keep communications between the USA and Russia going. And the AKA supports women’s lifting, it has been said many times publicly, and it shows at the AKA hosted competitions, if you have never been to one then please do not make assumptions or statements about what the AKA believes and does when you have zero experience with them and us. Please be patient with Yuri and the AKA, we truly are trying our best and we hear everyone, please understand Yuri receives dozens of questions and comments and requests every day and while many find this hard to believe he isn’t sitting on his ass all day ready to answer your questions, he actually owns a gym and has other business to attend to and he often has to discuss matters with the board before making a statement or response and that takes time and sometimes it takes him a bit to get back to people and he has to make sure his public statements do not wind him up in a heap of trouble the next time he goes to Russia. If you have never been cornered in a room with a group of questionable Russians then please understand we who compete internationally cannot just come out and say anything we want. Just this statement by myself could wind me up in a room the next time I compete abroad. And I will end this again by saying I am not going to get into a back and forth about this. If you have any corrections for my explanation above regarding Russian politics and government please be kind when you correct me. And lastly know that I love this sport and I still have a dream of being an Olympic kettlebell coach and seeing kettlebell sport in the Olympics, but we have many years to go to get there and as long as those who hold power now with the IUKL continue to hold power that will never happen, and squabbling about which organization is better will also slow the progress to that goal. Much love and happy lifting everyone.
Next week, I will write about the 2 day course I took with Arseny Zhernakov (Lab of Champions)!