It’s been a rough past couple of years for 2-time Olympic bronze medalist Arkady Vyatchanin, the former Russian competitor who sought Serbian eligibility for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Vyatchanin, who has represented his native Russia for most of his career, has been seeking a new home country since a major falling-out with the Russian federation in 2013 after they attempted to block his participation at the World Championship Trials in what he said was their objection to his preparations.
In January 2015, Vyatchanin announced he was seeking to seek Serbian citizenship, with that nation’s swimming federation welcoming the Gainesville, Florida-based swimmer with open arms.
However, the first sign of national representation trouble came in the form of Vyatchanin being left off of the 2016 Serbian European Championships roster. FINA’s hangup with his request to represent Serbia rested with Vyatchanin’s residency in that nation. The swimming federation said Vyatchanin hadn’t proved that he has resided in Serbia for 6 of the last 12 months since getting his Serbian citizenship.
The next blow was FINA again rejecting Vyatchanin’s sport nationality switch for the 2016 Olympic Games. FINA cited the same issue of residency as the reason for the request’s denial. Vyatchanin had openly responded via Facebook saying he was only able to make swimming financially viable while competing in the United States, where the Arena Pro Swim Series provided prize money and the New York Athletic Club provided funding for meets and expenses.
Vyatchanin tells SwimSwam that he had asked FINA if he could participate in the World Cup Series representing New York Athletic Club (NYAC), but he says the organization denied his request. When asked why FINA denied him, Vyatchanin told SwimSwam “No reason. They said that after revising their rules I’m not allowed to go. The question to them was if I can participate somehow. FINA rules allow people to represent their clubs, but I’m not allowed because I don’t have a federation to enter me.”
The nationality/club subject is addressed within the FINA General Rules docuemnt. For example, FINA General Rules 2.3 states the following:
GR 2.3 Any competitor who temporarily or permanently changes his residence to another country may join a club affiliated to the Member in the new country and shall be regarded as coming within the jurisdiction of the latter.
32-year-old Vyatchanin will continue to train and compete in non-FINA-sanctioned competitions, including the Arena Pro Swim Series. “I’ll just continue to compete here,” says Vyatchanin. His future citizenship and nationality may yet take few more turns.
Vyatchanin has been vocal on Facebook once again this week, in response to the fact that his name appears with the ‘SRB’ nationality code on the FINA World Cup Results documentation. According to his post, Vyatchanin wrote, “FINA didn’t approve my request to switch my sport nationality to Serbia. I could not go to the Olympics. After that they did not allow me to participate in the World Cup series. But somehow that old 200 back WC record is listed with SRB next to my name. That’s just bullsh*t!