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Russian and Belarusian swimmers banned from world championships

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) on Wednesday said it had reversed a decision to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutrals at the world championships and was instead imposing a blanket ban.

FINA said in a statement that, following “an independent risk assessment” its board had “confirmed that athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus will not take part in the World Championships”.

The 2022 championships take place in Budapest from June 18-July 3.

FINA has fallen into line with other international sports bodies that banned Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia responded to the ban by announcing that it was withdrawing from all competitions. 

“Following these decisions, FINA was informed by the Russian Swimming Federation of the withdrawal of all Russian aquatics athletes from all FINA events for the rest of this year,” said the FINA statement.  

At the beginning of March, FINA had followed judo, boxing and tennis and decided Russians and Belarusians could compete under a neutral flag. 

That position became difficult to maintain in the face of protests from other national swimming bodies.

The Swiss Swimming Federation, for example, had threatened to boycott the world championships in the event of Russian and Belarussian participation. 

FINA had already decided to move events Russia was due to host, including the short-course world championships scheduled for Kazan in December.

It also said that “separately”, FINA “has opened a procedure against Russian swimmer Evgeny Rylov for a potential violation of the FINA rules following his alleged participation in a pro-war rally at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.”  

Rylov is reigning Olympic champion in the 100m and 200m backstroke.


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