Igors Rausis had become a well-known, top-ranked chess player in recent years

By Helen Murphy
July 16, 2019 11:23 AM

Igors Rausis, a chess grandmaster who had climbed the sport’s ranking boards in recent years, admitted to cheating after a photo surfaced of him appearing to use his smartphone while in a bathroom stall during a tournament.

According to the Washington Post, Rausis, 58, is the oldest person to be ranked in the top 100 chess players worldwide. In this month’s ranking, he came in at number 53 — making it all the more shocking when fans of the “gentlemen’s sport” learned he had cheated.

The photograph, which was obtained by The Telegraph, appears to show Rausis fully clothed sitting on the toilet and using his phone during a recent tournament in Strasbourg, France. It’s unclear how the photo was taken.

In a statement sent to PEOPLE on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the World Chess Federation (FIDE) said: “FIDE herewith officially confirms that during round three of the open tournament in Strasbourg GM Igors Rausis (CZE) was inspected by the arbiters who found hard evidence of computer-assisted cheating. GM Rausis admitted using a smartphone for help during the game in public comments.”

The statement added that FIDE “is reluctant to comment officially on any additional details before this case is thoroughly investigated by FIDE Fair-Play Commission and FIDE Ethics Commission makes a decision.”

“We will make all necessary efforts to successfully fight cheating, and we are going to make punishments for violations more severe,” the statement concluded. “However, we urge the entire chess community to respect the law and let us work diligently for the benefit of chess.”

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Rausis seemingly admitted that he had cheated to Chess.com, saying, “I simply lost my mind.”

“I confirmed the fact of using my phone during the game by written [statement],” he continued to Chess.com, also apparently announcing an end to his chess career. “What could I say more? … At least what I committed yesterday is a good lesson, not for me — I played my last game of chess already.”

Rausis also told the Times of London that he had been cheating by using chess software.

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FIDE’s Fair Play Commission Secretary Yuri Garrett wrote in a recent Facebook post that the “Fair Play Commission has been closely following a player for months,” apparently a reference to Rausis.

“The final result is finding a phone in the toilet and also finding its owner. Now the incident will follow the regular procedure and a trial will follow to establish what really happened,” he wrote.