FINA has announced that Russian backstroke star Evgeny Rylov is serving a 9-month suspension from all FINA sanctioned competitions and activities.
The ban comes after Rylov appeared on stage at a pro-war rally in Moscow in mid-March. Rylov, who won Gold in the men’s 100 and 200 back at last summer’s Olympics, was celebrated on stage along with other Russian medalists before Russian president Vladimir Putin took the stage to speak on the “special operation” in Ukraine. The “special operation” is in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February.
FINA was vague in its description of Rylov’s actions, referring only to “Mr. Rylov’s attendance and conduct at an event held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 18 March 2022.”
UPDATE: FINA has confirmed that the March 8 date listed in their original press release was a typo, and they were referring to the March 18 event.
Following Rylov’s appearance at the rally, Speedo ended their sponsorship deal with the 25-year-old. Rylov then announced in a lengthy Instagram post that he would be pulling out of this summer’s World Championships, although that ultimately turned into a symbolic move by Rylov, as FINA would shortly thereafter ban all Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2022 World Championships.
In FINA’s press release today, the organization also confirmed that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be barred from any FINA events through the end of 2022. That notably bans those athletes from both the 2022 World Championships in Budapest this summer, as well as the SC World Champs, which are tentatively set for December 17-22, at a location TBD.
Although Rylov appeared at the pro war rally on March 18th, FINA announced that his ban began on April 20th, and therefore the ban will be in effect through January 20th, 2023.
Here is FINA’s full statement on Rylov’s ban:
“The FINA Bureau met today and acknowledged the decision of the FINA Disciplinary Panel to suspend Evgeny Rylov (RUS) from all competitions and activities organized or sanctioned by FINA, including any International Competition on the FINA World Aquatic Calendar, for a period of nine months, following Mr. Rylov’s attendance and conduct at an event held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 18 March 2022. Mr. Rylov’s suspension took effect on 20 April 2022.”
FINA was one of the last international governing bodies to withdraw its major championships from Russia in 2022, and one of the last to ban Russian athletes from competing internationally.