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How old is Anton Arsenyev?

July 19th, 2009 · 16 Comments

During the recent FIBA U19 World Championship in New Zealand, the Kazakh team was one of the sensations of the event and especially with their win over the hosts and therefore qualification for the next round, the team has fulfilled all the expectations. And it was one guard that played the game of his life at that particular moment: Anton Arsenyev. After having analyzed their team from a sportive way already, I have to come back to a more dark part of it after my previous article provoked some reactions.

As you probably know, passport fraud has been an usual way in former Soviet Republics in order to change the nationality or the age of several youth players in the past. However, nothing has ever been officially proved and all these guys (I won’t name them here) are still active with their respective new identities. But what happened this summer with the Kazakh player Anton Arsenyev is probably the most obvious passport fraud ever. But let’s start at the beginning…

After the publication of my article on Kazakhstan, I got in contact with a Russian journalist to give me some hints about the past of the player Anton Arsenyev. In 1986, a Russian player called Anton Arsenev Alexandrovitch was born. He grew up with the different St.Petersburg youth teams and was a member of the Spartak St. Petersburg second team that played in the Russian Higher League back in 2007. You can find his stats from that time right here or on But in 2007,  Arsenev stopped to play for Spartak 2. According to, he moved to Kazakhstan to the team of Barsy Atyrau. A really surprising move for a Russian player that averaged around 12ppg for a 21 year old in the third best league of the country. With the nationality restrictions in the Russian Superleague, a spot on that level would have been in reach in some future.

The strange things started when in 2008, a player called Anton Arsenyev played for the Kazakhstan U18 National Team that won the Fiba Asia U18 Championship and qualified for the U19 Worlds in New Zealand. This Anton Arsenyev was however born in 1991 but represented similar body type than the Arsenyev that played in Russia the years before. He was listed at 1m95 with the Kazakh National team while being listed at 1m90 when playing in St. Petersburg. The story became obvious for observers that were not in Iran for the U18 tournament when the team photos came up for the U19 World Championship of this summer.

Arsenev in Russia (from Arsenyev with Kazakhstan (from FIBA)

Both players look really similar, even the haircut is still the same. Both guys have practically the same name (the only difference is coming from translating the Cyrillic) but have 5 years of difference officially. The “Russian” Arsenev (born in 1986) moved to Kazakhstan and 1 year later, a “Kazakh” Arsenyev (born in 1991) appears and plays for Youth National teams being 5 years younger but still looking the same. This was too obvious.

And when you dig deeper, you find even more indications that go in the direction of the most obvious passport fraud in Youth Basketball. The Club team of Arsenyev in Kazakhstan is coached by Vadim Burakov. Burakov who is also the coach of the U19 Kazakhstan National team that played in New Zealand. On the official homepage of the Barsy Atyrau team, you can also find the player profile page of  a 1991 born Anton Arsenyev, together with a picture.

Arsenev in Russia Arsenyev in Barsy Atyrau

This is of course all too obvious to be true you could imagine but it passed as Arsenyev was allowed to play for Kazakhstan in the different FIBA competitions. We tried to get in contact with the Kazakhstan basketball federation but nobody replied. The same, more surprisingly, also counted for New Zealand, where nobody dared to answer my email about this case. Because the 1991 born Arsenyev killed New Zealand in the decisive game of the Group phase with 27 points and prevented the Junior Tall Blacks from going on to the next round, it would have been interesting for the NZ federation to be informed but they seemed not to care. The question that remains is if anybody cares at all…

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rauschen im Blätterwald #23 « Grübelei – Ansichten eines Basketballfans // Jul 19, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    […] kleinen Scoop bringt Dort wird gefragt, warum der Kasachische U19-Nationalspieler Anton Arsenyev einen optisch so unglaublich ähnlichen Zwilling hat, der schlappe vier Jahre älter ist. Ein schön […]

  • 2 Stephan // Jul 20, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Let this story be on the net for some time and all of the sudden, somebody will pick it up. And then it will create some waves …
    I remember coaches of the German national youth teams asking these questions for several years now and not only about teams of the former Soviet republics:
    – at the AST 2008 there was a turkish player with a big question mark
    – at the B-EC 2007 for U16, when Germany lost against the team of Montenegro with two big men looking far avanced than being 16 years old

  • 3 Stevan // Jul 21, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Guys in the Dinaric Alps are 186cm tall on average…

    Montengrins are wide known to be the tallest people on the Balkans:

    So maybe the coaches should be carefull

  • 4 Oldtimer // Jul 23, 2009 at 8:38 am

    This has been going on for ages. Countries like Turkey and Yugoslavia were already routinely cheating more than 40 years ago. At the 1968 European Junior Championship in Vigo, Spain, Yugoslavia was led by center Vinko Jelovac, who was later revealed to have been born in 1948 (age limit: 1949). Then at the 1971 European Cadet Championship in Gorizia, Italy (age limit: 1954), Dragan Kicanovic led Yugoslavia to the title. He was born in 1953. At the 1970 European Junior Championship in Athens, Turkey had a completely bald ‘star’ who confessed to other participants that he was 28 years old. He never was seen in international basketball again. But we have seen Ersan Ilyasova/Ilyasov, of course – so old habits die hard.

  • 5 Today’s picks (live from Hagondange) // Jul 23, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    […] Scouting & Recruiting Service ← How old is Anton Arsenyev? […]

  • 6 Ball in Europe – European Basketball Blog » Blog Archive » Best of the (basketball) net: Week of July 25 // Jul 26, 2009 at 5:01 am

    […] are covering the U20s and U18 men’s championships, respectively, but the latter also brings the insidious scandal regarding Team Kazakhstan’s Anton Arsenyev. Or Anton Arsenev Alexandrovitch, if you […]

  • 7 Patrick // Aug 4, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Your article is featured on’s “True Hoop” blog. Congrats!

  • 8 Skyflakes25 // Aug 5, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Even China has been guilty of this. Yi Jianlian competed in age-group FIBA Asia competitions when he was already overage.

  • 9 Jason // Aug 5, 2009 at 2:08 am

    In many Eastern Bloc countries and in places like China, cheating and winning are synonymous. Its pretty disgusting and goes against everything that basketball stands for.

  • 10 Christophe // Aug 5, 2009 at 6:35 am

    @Skyflakes25 and Jason
    yes, this is known but it is not that obvious than this case where some simple research shows it. Or do you have any proof of what you say except some stuff you heard here and there?
    That’s the problem

  • 11 Christophe // Aug 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Due to a backup problem, this comment got lost so it reappears under my name

    Original comment by Graham: Wow. It’s a shame nobody even cares. It’s all about winning games and everything is permissible. Steroids?

  • 12 Christophe // Aug 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Due to a backup problem, this comment got lost so it reappears under my name

    Original comment by tr: I have to agree about the height of Montenegrins. Tallest people in the world, however, it has nothing to do with this story.

  • 13 Christophe // Aug 6, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Due to a backup problem, this comment got lost so it reappears under my name

    Original comment by Lt. Dan Hennessey: Hello,
    I was one of the commentators for the Fiba U 19’s World Champs, in Auckland where I now live. Thank you for this information ! I can ashure you there will be a protest forth coming. He sank 28 on the Junior Tall Blacks, this is nothing short of a travisty of basketball justice !! We do care, Very much !! Thanks again !!

    Lt. Dan Hennessey

  • 14 FIBA U19 World Championships: Kazakhstan // Aug 6, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    […] This post has been written before we discovered the apparent passport-fraud of several Kazakh players. I have left it as it is here but be aware that the players described here may not be born for real […]

  • 15 Cam // Aug 7, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Hey Christophe,

    My mates and I found this article few days ago and sent it to some of the other basketball players I know. The TV news in NZ did a story on it tonight. Obviously BBNZ did get your email. Keep up the good work.

  • 16 Which future for Spanish Basketball? // May 27, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    […] from ex-Soviet Union and is still used according to different reports in China or as discovered by in Kazakhstan. (Just to mention that there is still no official judgment by FIBA on this case and that some […]

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