Ban Lifted In Alleged Polish Cheating Case


The Arbitration Tribunal for Sport of the Polish Olympic Committee has overturned WFM Patrycja Waszczuk’s two-year ban from chess for alleged cheating. According to her lawyer, the now 18-year-old Waszczuk was deprived of the right of defense and the right to a fair trial.

In October 2020, the Commission for Awards and Discipline of the Polish Chess Federation sentenced a two-year ban from competitive chess upon Waszczuk. The Polish player, who was 17 at the time, had allegedly used a phone during play at the Ustron Chess Festival in August 2020, something that is strictly forbidden in chess.

According to the commission’s investigation, a witness had seen Waszczuk in the restroom with a phone and Waszczuk admitted to having had a second phone with her, while she refused her purse to be searched. An analysis of her games had resulted in the conclusion that it was likely that she had access to an engine during play.

Immediately after the ban was placed by the Polish Chess Federation, the father of Waszczuk appealed the decision, claiming the evidence was circumstantial. Furthermore, he suggested that procedural mistakes had been made by the federation.

The case was taken to the next level: the board of the Polish Chess Federation, which took the decision in January of this year to uphold the ban. Thereupon, Waszczuk’s lawyer, Pawel Dziubinski, took the case to the Polish Olympic Committee.

Waszczuk in her first-round game in Ustron.
Waszczuk in her first-round game in Ustron. Photo: Przemek Nikiel.

On Wednesday July 14, the committee overturned the ban and sent it back to the first instance. This means that the Commission for Awards and Discipline of the Polish Chess Federation will have to do its investigation all over again, this time supervised by the Polish Olympic Committee.

At the moment, only the actual decision from the Polish Arbitration Tribunal for Sport has been published; a supporting written statement is expected to appear in two or three weeks. However, it is safe to say that the overturning is indeed based on procedural errors made by the Polish Chess Federation.

According to Dziubinski, the Polish Olympic Committee found it unacceptable that there hadn’t been a hearing with a representative of Waszczuk during either the Commission for Awards and Discipline’s investigation or during that of the board of the federation.

Dziubinski also noted that the evidence was circumstantial and that Waszczuk had been deprived of the right of defense and the right to a fair trial. “It is as if I reported to the police that you beat me and on the basis of this testimony the police would come to you, put you in handcuffs, and the court sentenced you to two years in prison without a trial and questioning you,” Dziubinski commented to in an email.

While doing its investigation at the first instance, the chairman of the commission sent private messages to Waszczuk suggesting the defendant’s guilt. Thereupon, Dziubinski submitted a letter with a request to remove the chairman from the proceedings.

Dziubinski, a chess player himself, received a reply in which it was stated that the Commission for Awards and Discipline rejected him as Waszczuk’s representative. As a result, all the documents he sent were not included in the decision-making.

“We have evidence that Patrycja is not guilty. We have testimonies of witnesses, our own analysis of her games, and polygraph tests. All of this has been completely omitted and not included,” said Dziubinski.

It appears that the team behind Waszczuk was only pleading for procedural errors in their appeal, but Dziubinski denies that: “Only due to formal errors we were not able to present our evidence, and the presented evidence was not admitted and taken into account in the proceedings or hearing, which, incidentally, did not take place at all.”

Waszczuk playing WIM Anna Kubicka
Waszczuk playing WIM Anna Kubicka in the 2020 Polish Women’s Championship. Photo: Wojciech Zawadzki/

The reason for the federation to reject Dziubinski was that he himself was involved in a cheating scandal 14 years ago. However, he was never sentenced. Dziubinski suggested to that he plans to sue board members of the federation for putting his name to shame: “We will certainly meet in court for the insults that were committed against me and my office.”

GM Radoslaw Jedynak, President of the Polish Chess Federation, told via email: “I fully understand that there is a lot of bad emotions around, but this is still a normal, open case returned to the first instance. The tribunal clearly stated that they did not call Patrycja Waszczuk guilty or innocent, but they questioned the procedures. I have to admit that it was a very tough time for the Commission for Awards and Discipline to proceed with the case during the peak of the pandemic in Poland when even the normal courts were closed because of the government resolution.”

Jedynak added: “I am much more concerned about another official statement from the Arbitration Tribunal for Sport of the Polish Olympic Committee, which declared that electronic doping in chess is not doping in sport. This statement shows an absolute lack of understanding of our discipline. This crucial point was presented as a decision​ without any hearing, possibility to protest, bring witnesses, or appeal. Arbiters considered cheating in chess as a rule violation, like a foul in football, not like a real threat to our sport.”

The decision of the Polish Olympic Committee to overturn Waszczuk’s ban is final, but at the same time, the investigation will have to be done again. Therefore, whether Waszczuk can theoretically play chess again at the moment is not exactly clear. Dziubinski said she will wait until the written statement of the tribunal is published.



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