Just hours after Olympic champion Evgeny Rylov announced his withdrawal from the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, FINA officially announced that all Russian and Belarusian athletes would be banned from the competition.
FINA, which had previously resisted implementing a full ban on Russian athletes and instead said it would evaluate participation on a case-by-case basis, said the decision came after the FINA Bureau met Wednesday following the conclusion of an independent risk assessment.
“Further to the FINA Bureau’s decision on 8 March 2022 and the new measures at its disposal to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from FINA competitions, and following the review of an independent risk assessment, the FINA Bureau met today and confirmed that athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus will not take part in the upcoming 19th FINA World Championships Budapest 2022,” the organization said in a statement.
FINA says that the Russian Swimming Federation informed them that all Russian aquatics athletes would withdraw from all FINA events for the rest of 2022 after learning of the international governing body’s decision.
Additionally, FINA announced that it was pulling the 2022 Short Course World Championships out of Kazan, where the championships were previously scheduled for December 17-22. FINA says those dates will be maintained and that it is currently in discussions to find a new host.
Rylov, who announced that he would not compete at the World Championships earlier Wednesday morning in support of other Russian athletes who have been banned from various international sporting events, was seen at a pro-war rally last week in Moscow, resulting in him losing his sponsorship deal with Speedo.
FINA added that its Disciplinary Panel is looking into Rylov for a potential violation of FINA rules.
“Separately, the FINA Executive confirmed that the FINA Disciplinary Panel 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,” the organizaiton said. “The FINA Executive has requested that the Panel’s proceedings be expedited.
“FINA maintains its strongest condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. FINA also wishes to reiterate its commitment to supporting the Ukraine Swimming, Diving and Artistic Swimming Federation as they prepare for upcoming competitions.”
Rylov was the top performer for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, winning a pair of gold medals in the men’s 100 and 200 backstroke.
The country’s other individual medalist at the Games was Kliment Kolesnikov, who won silver behind Rylov in the 100 back and added a bronze medal in the men’s 100 freestyle.
Belarus won no swimming medals in Tokyo, with the top performers being Ilya Shymanovich and Anastasiya Shkurdai, who both made one individual final apiece. Shymanovich was eighth in the men’s 100 breaststroke, and Shkurdai finished in the same position in the women’s 100 butterfly.
At the last edition of the Long Course World Championships in 2019, Russia won 16 medals, including three gold from Rylov (men’s 200 back), Anton Chupkov (men’s 200 breast) and Yuliya Efimova (women’s 200 breast).
Russian Medalists, 2019 FINA World Championships
- Yuliya Efimova – women’s 200 breast (gold), women’s 100 breast (silver), women’s 50 breast (bronze)
- Evgeny Rylov – men’s 200 back (gold), men’s 50 back, men’s 100 back (silver)
- Anton Chupkov – men’s 200 breast (gold)
- Andrei Minakov – men’s 100 fly (silver)
- Daria Vaskina – women’s 50 back (bronze)
- Kliment Kolesnikov – men’s 50 back (bronze)
- Oleg Kostin – men’s 50 fly (bronze)
- Vladislav Grinev – men’s 100 free (bronze)
- Martin Malyutin – men’s 200 free (bronze)
- Relays – men’s 4×100 free, men’s 4×200 free (silver), men’s 4×100 medley (bronze)
Shymanovich was the top Belarusian performer at the 2019 Worlds in Gwangju, finishing fifth in the men’s 50 breast and 12th in the 100 breast. Alina Zmushka was the lone swimmer to earn a semi-final berth on the women’s side, placing ninth in the 50 breast and 15th in the 100 breast.