Evgeny Rylov, Russian gold medalist in swimming at the Tokyo Olympics, suspended for nine months by FINA, “following Mr. Rylov’s presence and conduct at an event held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow”; event was rally organized by Vladimir Putin in support of military campaign in Ukraine
Last update: 04/22/22 11:15 a.m.
Swimming’s world governing body FINA has suspended Russian Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Rylov for nine months after he participated in a rally in support of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, angering the Kremlin .
The 25-year-old, who won gold in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics last year, was among several athletes who attended a massive rally at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium last month organized by President Vladimir Putin.
Rylov and other athletes wore the letter “Z” on their gear, an identifying symbol used by supporters of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
FINA said the suspension came “as a result of Mr. Rylov’s attendance and conduct at an event held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow”.
Rylov, who also lost his sponsorship deal with swimwear maker Speedo due to his presence at the rally, said sports express newspaper, his lawyers were looking into the case, but it was still unclear whether they would appeal his suspension.
The Kremlin said FINA’s decision showed the “politicization of sport”.
“We believe this is absolutely contrary to the ideas of sport,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call on Friday.
“When the strongest [competitors] losing the opportunity to participate ultimately harms international federations and international competitions.”
FINA has already canceled all of its events scheduled to take place in Russia and has banned Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from participating in its competitions until the end of the year.
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