The fastest Source for Judo News from around the world. #JudoForTheWorld
Olympic athlete Alice Schlesinger receives appeals to represent foreign countries following her strained relations with Israel's Judo Association
By: Nadav Zenziper
Israeli judoka Alice Schlesinger, who participated in the Beijing and London Olympic Games, has received appeals to represent Turkey and Azerbaijan. The two countries' judo associations have also approached the Israel Judo Association on the matter.
According to estimates, Britain may also be in the picture as Schlesinger's mother is British.
Schlesinger's relations with the Israel Judo Association have been strained for quite a while now following the attempt to move her up to a heavier weight category, as well as the decision that as part of the judo team she will be trained under Shani Hershko rather than by her boyfriend, Pavel Musin.
Schlesinger. European countries express interest (Photo: Oren Aharoni)
Schlesinger was furious at the decision, as Hershko is also the coach of her rival in the same weight category (up to 63 kg), Yarden Gerbi. After she began boycotting the team's training sessions, the sides reached a compromise that Schlesinger would train three times a week as part of the team, and under Musin the rest of the time.
They also agreed that Musin would be permitted to escort her to competitions abroad, sit on the coach chair and train her during her stay abroad – privileges which other athletes on the team are not entitled to.
Schlesinger returned to the team practice several days before a competition in Turkey, to which she was escorted by Musin, who paid for his own trip. In Turkey, Schlesinger lost to Gerbi and won the bronze medal, while her opponent took home the silver medal.
Ahead of the European Championship in Budapest she requested funding for Musin's trip, and eventually refused to go after her demand was turned down.
Schlesinger with boyfriend-coach Pavel Musin (Photo: Reuven Schwartz)
Schlesinger recently visited Azerbaijan and Turkey, where she discussed the option of representing each of the countries with local coaches. If Israel decides to let her go, the Judo Association will have to set conditions for the move: Either automatically transferring her or having her abstain from competitions for a two-year period.
Schlesinger's lawyer, Attorney Amir Rosenberg, said in response: "Many in the world and different sources in the judo discipline in Israel have expressed their shock to Alice and her coach Pavel, over the damage caused to an Olympic athlete of such renown. Members of the Judo Association management said similar things, as did senior sources in the sport, some holding positions in the Judo Association.
"Different countries have turned to Alice in a bid to open their gates to her. They asked Pavel if they could turn to the Israel Judo Association and inquire on its plans for Alice and whether it was true that the Association insisted that Shani Hershko, Yarden's personal coach, train Alice as well, meaning that Alice would be prevented from representing Israel.
"Those sources received Alice and Pavel's approval to approach the Judo Association. Alice is fighting to stay in Israel, while the Judo Association is rejecting her repeatedly."
'Many in the world are shocked by the damage caused to an Olympic athlete,' Schlesinger's lawyer says (Photo: Oren Aharoni)
As for the visit to Azerbaijan, Attorney Rosenberg said, "Alice demanded to compete in Baku, and the Judo Association prevented her from doing so. She was summoned and appeared before a professional committee several days before the competition, and pleaded with them to let her compete. The Association forbade her to do so.
"Alice was invited as a goodwill gesture on a private trip so that she could train there, instead of competing. A similar incident, in which Alice was prevented from going on a training camp, took place before the trip to Turkey. Then too, Alice went on the trip but trained privately."
The athlete's representative added, "Alice is receiving offers from different places in the world following what is perceived as her expulsion from the Judo Association by making her train with her opponent's personal coach.
"The Association has decided to pave Gerbi's way to the 63 kg category because she is in (Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe) Ponti's club and Hershko is her personal trainer. The Judo Association has not made any decisions in regards to Alice, just Ponti and Hershko, two people who are in a serious conflict of interest."
Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponti. Schlesinger's lawyer says he is in 'serious conflict of interest' (Photo: Oren Aharoni)
The Israel Judo Association offered the following statement in response: "It's sad and shameful. For months the Judo Association has been pleading with Alice to return to the team's training activities, and she has been refusing to do so.
"Now it turns out that it all stems from financial matters involving the Schlesinger-Musin couple.
Schlesinger did not inform us of the fact that she was negotiating representing a different country, and presented the trip to Baku as a private journey.
"The moment her partner was no longer financed with public funds, Schlesinger turned her back on Israel's national team and the huge investment made in her over the years. It turns out that she has no desire to represent her nation state, but that it simply revolves around money."