Interview with Mr BATTUSHIG Batbold, an IOC member and the president of the Mongolian NOC
–Good afternoon. You recently participated in the IOC Session recently, so could you please share any noteworthy topics addressed and resolved within the Olympic Movement?
-On the 14th-17th of this month, the IOC held its 141st Session in Mumbai, India. A number of sports were discussed and approved to be added to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic program, including flag football, cricket, lacrosse, squash, and baseball/softball. Furthermore, the IOC welcomed eight new members to the organisation.
Hosting major international sports events in a country can significantly contribute to the development of sports and the economy. During the session, we reiterated our eagerness to organise the 2027 IOC Session in Mongolia and expressed our interest in hosting the Youth Olympic Games in either 2030 or 2034 to the Future Host Commission.
-On March 28, 2022, the Mongolian NOC held its VIII Assembly and elected the new leadership team. Since then, we successfully changed the Statutes, and increased the quotaof female members on the Executive Board and implemented various measures to support good governance, following the recommendations and guidelines of the IOC.
The Mongolian NOC thoroughly supported the East Asian Youth Games, which took place in Ulaanbaatar from August 12-19, collaborating closely with the organising committee, government institutions, and other relevant organisations to ensure the successful organisation of the Games. The participant athletes were enthusiastic and in good spirits throughout the event.
In addition, the Mongolian National Olympic Committeesuccessfully organised the first Mongolian Beach Games between September 16-17 in Mandalgovi, Dundgovi province. Over 120 athletes from 14 organisations across 4 provinces, 3 universities, 2 sports committees, and 5 sports clubs competed in badminton, volleyball, teqball, and wrestling. In the future, this Beach Games is planned to be held regularly on a broader scale.
From September 23 to October 8, the Asian Games were held in Hangzhou, China, after being postponed for one year due to the pandemic. The Mongolian NOC has been responsible for the organisation of Team Mongolia and is set to hold a meeting soon to assess the performance and reports of the athletes who participated in the games.
Moreover, we have submitted requests to implement various IOC Solidarity and Olympic Council of Asia projects, and we are striving to ensure their accessibility to all nationalfederations.
Foreign relations and partnerships with other national Olympic Committees and international federations have strong influence on the development of sports. As such, we’re putting more focus on this area. One of our top priorities is to exchange knowledge and experience with highly developed sports communities from other countries and organise joint training sessions with international athletes, which are incredibly effective.
Additionally, we’re excited to announce the “Mongolia House” project. This initiative aims to promote Mongolian culture, traditions, and brand to foreign guests and athletes by constructing a traditional Mongolian “Ger”, during the Paris 2024 Olympics. Last week in Paris, I signed an agreement on the implementation of the Mongolia House project, and I am delighted to share this news with you.
-What is the stance of the Mongolian NOC on the recent news about two Mongolian athletes who were found to be doping during their participation in the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games? Additionally, there have been concerns about Mongolia’s participation in the Olympic Games under the white flag due to information circulating about the complications in the Mongolian Anti-Doping Organisation. Can you provide any insight on this matter?
-It is regretful that doping was tested positive in two of our athletes who participated in the Asian Games. The athletes now have the option to request a retest of their “B” sample and appeal to the court of sports arbitration which is within their right. As for us, the Mongolian National Olympic Committee, we fully comply with the World Anti-Doping Organization (WADA) regulations and are committed to safeguarding our athletes’ welfare and promoting fair play.
Recently, there has been a lot of misinformation in the public media regarding the Mongolian NOC’s ability to remove the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association, and create a new one. Additionally, there have been claims that the Mongolian NOC is not taking a stand or paying attention to the issue of doping. However, an official statement has been released by the Mongolian NOC to address these concerns.
As per Article 20.5.1 of the Codex of the WADA, the Mongolian NOC is not allowed to intervene in the internal matters of the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association. Despite this, since it came to our attention, we’ve made repeated efforts to work with the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association to resolve the issues concerned. Our First Vice-President, Ch. Naranbaatar and Vice-President O. Odbayar are working on this matter in collaboration with the government and the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports as part of the National Anti-Doping Council to approve the National Anti-Doping Rules.
We have been regularly communication with World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) and relevant authorities on finding effective solutions to prevent the problem from happening again. The Mongolian NOC offers athletes access to information on doping, including online training that meets the standards set by international federations.
The reason behind the problem we understand rose from the outstanding invoices of the tests of the athletes who participated in the “Tokyo 2020” and “Beijing 2022” Olympic Games, which had not been paid for couple years. The State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports and the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association failed to resolve the fees for the tests for an extended period.
On July 4th, the Mongolian NOC sent a letter to the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association regarding the situation and problems. However, the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association submitted a rebuttal to the concerns on August 4th, 2023.
However, then WADA released a statement stating that if the issues remained unresolved, it would be deliberated upon at the WADA Executive Council meeting in September, and there is a possibility that the Mongolian team may compete under the white flag.
Once again, I want to highlight that the Mongolian NOC has made a request to the WADA, collaborated with relevant institutions in all areas, and suggested a timely payment method to government institutions. In essence, the Mongolian NOC has helped to resolve the issues and acted as a mediator to connect everyone involved.
In a recent interview with the press, Ts. Magaljav, the President of the National Traditional Wrestling Federation, made some unfortunately untrue statements. He claimed that the Mongolian NOC caused the doping problem, but this is not the case. Before the recent “Naadam” festival, President Ts. Magaljav and I had a meeting where we discussed the Mongolian NOC’s support for traditional sports, including Mongolian traditional wrestling. We also discussed ways to promote traditional wrestling to the world through the “Mongolia House” project, which will take place during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games as Mongolian traditional wrestling is very unique.
Mongolian traditional wrestling enthusiasts are concerned about the National Traditional Wrestling Federation’s recurring doping issue, which remains unresolved. The federation’s primary responsibility is safeguarding its athletes from doping and collaborating with the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association to prevent it. This is the main objective of the federation, but the persistence of the problem suggests that the Mongolian Traditional Wrestling Federation is not adequately fulfilling its anti-doping obligations under the WADA code and these issues are being politicized leading to spillovers to the Olympic sports and athletes in the media.
The World Anti-Doping Agency suggested that the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association should function independently and not as a member organization of the Mongolian NOC due to a conflict of interest. As a result, the Mongolian NOC will evaluate the possibility of removing Mongolian NADO as member of our NOC.
Just a quick side note, there was an official meeting organized by the Mongolian NOC during the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games between Sports Minister B. Bat-Erdene and Director General of the WADA Oliver Niggli. They shared opinions on improving the rules of the Mongolian Anti-Doping Association and the general law on doping before the Executive Council of the WADA meets in January next year. I believe this is one example of how we are trying to help this situation.
-In 2012, I understand the leadership of that time and the Mongolian NOC executive board transferred some of their land to sports federations for sports-related activities and construction of sports facilities, as per the decision of the Executive Council.
I became the First Vice-President of the Mongolian NOC in 2017 and then assumed the role of President in 2022 therefore these issues were before my time.
Approximately three hectares of land behind the Mongolian NOC were initially transferred for sports use to the baseballand rugby federations as well as Olympic training center NGO. However, when the new management took over, the sites were repurposed, so it was no longer legally possible for us to participate in any way. Despite this, we have sent official letters and recommendations to relevant organisations including the City Government about the retention and use of even some of these areas for sports purpose.
Since we brought up this issue, there has been an number of false information and slander directed at the management of the Mongolian NOC.
Rather than continuing to spread misinformation about our activities, we urge the sports enthusiasts to embrace your passion for sports and support our efforts to preserve the land for sports pursuits and for children and youth to practice and play sports.
By enhancing and expanding sports facilities, our country can potentially host the upcoming Asian Games and Youth Olympic Games. To achieve this goal, the Mongolian NOC has conducted a comprehensive study of sports facilities and is considering a phased construction plan. One of the proposed projects is the construction of a multi-sport complex, also known as the “Olympic Arena,” in areas like Khushig Valley and Khui Doloon Khudag. The research suggests that building a sports complex farther from the city would not add to the traffic congestion in Ulaanbaatar city and would have positive outcomes, including neighbourhood housing for affordable housing projects that can help move people from the Ger Districts to housing, that would help decrease the pollution of Ulaanbaatar city as it would decrease the use of coal burning in these Ger’s to head their homes.
Thank you very much for your time, and I wish you Good luck to all of these endeavors for the development of sports in Mongolia.