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2016-07-28 13:10:00 CET

More than sports: “They should just say the names and ban these people”

Limian Barsouk has played on the FIVB World Tour since 1999 - this year, he wants to participate at his second Olympic Games, but the decision does not lie in his own hands.

Eight years ago, Dmitri Barsouk experienced a very special moment in Klagenfurt. Together with his partner Igor Kolodinsky, he won 2008 the final at the FIVB Grand Slam in the capital of Carinthia. It was the first ever gold medal of a Russian beach volleyball team and the only one Barsouk has ever won at a Grand Slam or Major since. At this year’s very first A1 Klagenfurt Major, he and his partner Nikita Liamin have to compete with the locals Doppler/Horst (AUT), and the US-Teams Hyden/Bourne and Crabb/Crabb to reach the single elimination phase.

“For me, Klagenfurt is the best tournament on the tour,” Barsouk says. “I like the hard sand and that we have no wind here. In Russia, we have hard sand as well, but playing the Grand Slam in Moscow is crazy for me,” Dmitri explains. “I know so many people there and everyone is trying to tell me, what to do on the court.” That’s one thing the 36-year-old Russian needs, who is playing at the FIVB World Tour since 1999.

With a little help from the young talents

Next week he will participate at his second Olympic Games after Beijing 2008. The qualification process has been tough for Dmitri and his partner Nikita. Like the Canadians Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter, they didn’t manage it to get in via ranking points. At the European Continental Cup in Stavanger, they lost against the Austrians Huber/Seidl in the semifinal, but then finished in third place in the World Continental Final in Sochi, where they finally reached their goal: the second spot for Russia after Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov, who had already qualified by ranking points. “We should have made it in Stavanger, but it was good for us that we had this second chance,” Barsouk says. The young players Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin helped a lot during the Continental Cup Finals, but the Russian Volleyball Federation (RVF) chose Dmitri

and Nikita to represent Russia in Rio de Janeiro. Dmitri knows this situation quite well. Four years ago he was the one who couldn’t go to London Games, because the RFV chose another team.

Nikita Liamin and Dmitri Barsouk (left) of Russia celebrate winning their place in Rio (Photocredit: FIVB)Nikita Liamin and Dmitri Barsouk (left) of Russia celebrate winning their place in Rio (Photocredit: FIVB)

But although he has qualified now, Dmitri won’t know until Sunday if his dream of flying to Rio will come true. He has to wait for the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). An Independent Investigation had confirmed Russian State manipulation of the doping control process, and after the lockout of all Russian track athletes, the IOC had to consider, under their respective charters, to decline entries for Rio 2016 of all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

Waiting for the Olympic decision

“We had practice on Sunday and normally I am an easy-going person, but I really couldn’t concentrate this time,” Dmitri says. “In my opinion it’s not right to ban everyone athlete from Russia because some teams are on the list. We had lots of tests outside of Russia. You could ban all cyclist and weight-lifters because hardly a day goes by when there is a doping scandal.” The IOC hasn’t banned all athletes, but the Committee delegated the decision to the sport’s specific federations. Now volleyball’s FIVB has to decide. “Upon request of the FIVB following the IOC Executive Board decision on Sunday, 24 July, the Russian Volleyball Federation (RVF) has provided updated team lists to the FIVB for the volleyball and beach volleyball competitions at the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” Communications Department Director Richard Baker from the FIVB says. “The FIVB is currently reviewing the lists of players submitted by the RVF and it would not be appropriate to comment on this further until the process is concluded.” The final decision will be expected on Friday. Nothing is clear until now, as two beach volleyball players from Russia are named with positive tests in the McLaren Report. “No one knows who they are. They should just say the names and ban these people,” Dmitri says. 

Dmitri Barsouk loves the conditions in Klagenfurt (Credit: Ninja Priesterjahn)Dmitri Barsouk loves the conditions in Klagenfurt (Credit: Ninja Priesterjahn)

This season could be the last for the 36-year-old. “It’s getting more difficult every year, everybody is getting taller and taller, and bigger and bigger,” says the 1.9-meter defender. “For five years I thought about quitting. But every year, I am back in the national team,” he laughs. He loves beach volleyball. “But I love my children even more,” he says. Together with his wife Anastasia Barsuk, who is a World Tour player as well, he has two kids, who are three and 10 years old, “I would like to work with kids, and maybe teach them.”

But before that, he would love to attend his last Olympic Games. Klagenfurt will be the final rehearsal.

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