Arthur Albiero Says Ilia Sibirtsev Will Change Sporting Citizenships to Race at 2024 Worlds

The swimming portion of the 2024 World Championships in Doha runs from February 11-18, right in the heart of the NCAA postseason. So far, countries’ rosters for the upcoming championships have been understandably light on NCAA athletes.

However, during Louisville’s media day, head coach Arthur Albiero said that three swimmers from his collegiate roster will race in Doha: Ilia Sibirtsev, Denis Loktevand Denis Petrashov.

This announcement has serious implications for the countries expected to participate at these World Championships. Albiero stated that Sibirtsev is representing Uzbekistan, which would mean that he’s changed his country affiliation as he was born in Russia and has represented Russia on the international stage before. He last swam for Russia at the 2019 World Junior Championships and he last swam at a Russian national championship in 2021.

Uzbekistan is the country that infamously was found to have falsified times in order to qualify athletes for international meets, resulting in suspensions for some of their swimming officials.

Louisville lists Sibirtsev’s home town as Barnaul, Russia in the more temperate southern part of Siberia, near the country’s border with Kazakhstan. World Aquatics has already updated his online profile to reflect the nationality change.

The International Olympic Committee indefinitely suspended the Russian Olympic Committee, though the ROC are appealing that suspension on January 26th after it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The IOC specified its sanctions will not have any impact on Russian and Belarusian athletes being allowed to compete as individual neutrals at the Paris 2024 Olympics, as long as they have not supported the war. Russia is currently appealing the suspension to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the CAS is not expected to overturn the IOC decision on the basis of Russia annexing regional athletics federations in Ukraine.

Loktev represents Israel internationally. Israeli’s are eligible to compete in World Aquatics and IOC events amid their war with Palestine; however, officials from the Israeli swimming and water polo associations have expressed concern about participation in the 2024 World Championships for security reasons in Doha, Qatar, a nation that hosts an office of Hamas which earlier this year launched an attack against Israel. The Israeli Swimming Association (ISA) has been in talks with World Aquatics about alternate pathways to Olympic relay qualification if they are unable to compete and have made indirect overtures that they were uncertain of their willingness or ability to participate in Doha. Loktev’s attendance seems to confirm that Israel is sending at least some athletes to the World Championships.

SwimSwam has reached out to World Aquatics for more information about both instances.

From an NCAA perspective, all three swimmers will miss the Louisville Invitational on February 15th, and makes it a tight turn around for the ACC Championships, which begin on February 20th in Greensboro, North Carolina – two days after Worlds conclude. At the 2023 ACC Championships, the three helped Louisville to a 3rd place finish just 35.5 points ahead of Virginia. Petrashov scored 6o points, Sibirtsev 47 points, and Loktev 45 points.

At 2023 NCAAs, Petrashov was one of two individual scorers for Louisville (25 points). As one of two returning 100 breaststroke ‘A’ finalists, he is one of the favorites to win the event.

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Sceptic
3 months ago

What country is Petrashov going to represent in Doha?

LiMa
3 months ago

Israel has no war with Palestine / the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas initiated a terror organization that does not represent the Palestinian state.

swimswammer
3 months ago

Y’all ever think abt the Palestinians tho 😢

Xman
Reply to  swimswammer
3 months ago

I’m thinking that Louisville doesn’t have anybody who’s going to be swimming on the Palestinian team in Doha.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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