Before flying tomorrow to Kaunas for the U16 European Championship, here are some news on the Kazakhstan basketball players passport fraud.
- Let’s start with a short press review, something that I am not used to do as europeanprospects.com is not quoted that often throughout the different Media. However the story on the passport fraud of Anton Arsenyev from Kazakhstan had an unseen feedback from every where in the world. Solobasket, allesaussersport, Grübelei or ESPN featured the story and it was even covered by the New Zealand TV in the evening News and in the Basketball related show Beyond the arc of Lt. Dan Hennessey on Sky Sports New Zealand. Thank you all guys for spreading this story.
- Additional research showed that passport fraud has a long tradition in Kazakhstan. Valery Tikhonenko, who was raised in Kazakhstan during the former Soviet Union, was one of the best players in Russian history and is told to be born in reality in 1961 while being listed everywhere as 1964 born. But more recently, several other Kazakh players got new passports after moving from Russia. Egor Biryulin (from 1984 to 1986) was “invited” to come Kazakhstan by Vitaly Strebkov (current Kazakhstan NT coach and head coach of Astana Tigers, the biggest club team in Kazakhstan), the coach who already brought Artyom Skornyakov to Kazakhstan, is one of them.
- But the player that may be the biggest thing is Aleksandr Tyutyunik, the top scorer of the Kazakh U19 team in New Zealand. Officially he is listed as born in 1990 but here you can find a roster of the Astana Tigers team of 2003/2004, including a 1m98 tall 1986 born player called… Aleksandr Tyutyunik. The reliability of that source may not be 100% but it seems like a copy from the rosters normally published by the Kazakh federation. But back in the 2003/2004 season, where he was 13 years old according to the FIBA birthday, Tyutyunik seemed already to be one of the raising stars of the Kazakh League as a multitude of articles talk about him. You can see there that he was already 1m98 at the age of 13 which together with some stats sounds pretty impossible as he is still 1m98 today at the age of 19.
- Since the story has been picked up by ESPN, there seems to be some movement on the official side as FIBA Oceania and Basketball New Zealand have filed an official complaint at the FIBA World office. I will keep you updated on the latest developments.