Russians React To Losing Worlds; Door Open To Compete In Other FINA Events

FINA made the long-awaited announcement on Wednesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes would not be permitted to compete at the upcoming World Aquatics Championships later this year in Budapest, following in the footsteps of several other international sports federations around the globe.

The news broke just hours after Russian Olympic champion Evgeny Rylov declared that he was pulling out of the championships in support of other Russian athletes who had been blocked from competing in various international events, including the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing.

In the official announcement, FINA said that the Russian Swimming Federation informed them that, after hearing the decision was made, they would remove all of their aquatics athletes from FINA competitions for the rest of the year.

In response, Russian Swimming Federation President Vladimir Salnikov issued a pair of statements, first noting that FINA’s wording in its statement was incorrect, and that Russian athletes were pulling out of the World Championships but not necessarily all FINA events for the year.

Though translated from Russian, the statement gives the indication that it was the Russian Swimming Federation’s decision to pull out of Worlds rather than FINA’s. It says that, during the FINA Bureau meeting where the decision, Salnikov made a statement at the beginning that Russians were pulling out of Worlds. It also says the decision was made jointly with the heads of the other aquatic sports federations in Russia.

Salnikov then issued a second statement indicating that FINA had corrected its wording and that the Russian Federation had only dropped out of Worlds, not any other FINA events in 2022.

Russian and Belarusian athletes’ participation in other FINA events during the year is an issue expected to be discussed in the near future.


Russian National Team head coach Sergei Chepik said in an interview with Russian outlet Match TV that the focus for the country’s top athletes now turns to the Russian Championships in late April, which were originally geared to be the qualifying meet for the World Championships.

Chepik mentioned the difficulty of the current situation for the athletes, and notes that it won’t be easy psychologically for the veterans to switch gears and put as much importance on that meet as they would’ve for Worlds (relative to the younger swimmers).

“Let’s see how athletes can prove themselves in the current conditions,” Chepik said, translated from Russian.

Chepik also noted that he felt Russians hadn’t felt welcome at competitions in recent years, and that right now, they “must understand and accept” the negative feelings other nations have towards them.

In addition to the Russian Championships, scheduled for April 24-29, both Chepik and Salnikov noted that they are in the process of putting together a replacement meet for Worlds/Euros at the end of July in Kazan (translated to the “Commonwealth Cup”). Both meets will be open for Belarusians to attend.

Kliment Kolesnikov‘s coach, Dmitry Lazarev, also said that he is turning his focus to the Russian Championships in late April.

Rylov: FINA, IOC Can’t Suspend Me For Life

Rylov spoke to Match TV following the news of the last few days, elaborating on his decision to pull out of Worlds in support of other athletes who were banned (before FINA’s announcement).

Rylov also said losing his sponsorship deal with Speedo was a financial blow, but he expects to receive additional support from the country, and that “some things are more important than material components.”

Asked if he was worried if his career would be in jeopardy given his political involvements, Rylov said he’s achieved his primary goal, winning Olympic gold, and that FINA and the IOC don’t have the authority to suspend him for life.

Rylov’s coach also spoke and said he fully supported the decision to pull out of Worlds.

Fesikova Taking Post-Olympic Break

Female backstroker Anastasiia Fesikova told Russian media she’s taken a post-Olympic break and won’t compete at the Russian Championships in April.

Fesikova added that this decision was made before FINA banned Russian athletes from competing at Worlds, and she also said she was surprised that the ISL (Energy Standard) implemented a Russian sanction. Energy Standard, Rylov’s club in previous seasons, announced it was banning all Russian athletes earlier this week.

Fesikova said she thought the league would stay out of politics, noting that “after all, it’s a club system.”

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2 years ago

ISL has postponed its fourth season until 2023, citing the war in Ukraine.

2 years ago

When someone is fired, they will usually tell you they quit.

2 years ago

The 100m freestyle without Kolesnikov and Charmers will be very boring for Dresel.

Reply to  ddd
2 years ago

I’m sure Popovici will have something to say about that

2 years ago

Efimova left the chat

2 years ago

Well they dope so um bye Yuliya

2 years ago

World records will fall at the Russian Championships because who will be there to monitor doping? When a country decides that it can invade another sovereign country just because it wants to, what would be so terrible about setting up a pool-side doping station?

2 years ago

Wait… so FINA didn’t actually ban Russia at all? Russia pulled out and FINA then pretended it was their idea to ban them.

Am I reading this right?

Reply to  Sub13
2 years ago

That’s what it seems like based on the Russian Swimming Federation statement. However, that might be either them trying to control the narrative (I wouldn’t trust everything they say) or FINA banned them after they threatened to pull out of Worlds.

Steve Nolan
2 years ago

Asked if he was worried if his career would be in jeopardy given his political involvements, Rylov said he’s achieved his primary goal, winning Olympic gold, and that FINA and the IOC don’t have the authority to suspend him for life.

Got my fingers crossed for this being a case of “spoken too soon.”

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Steve Nolan
2 years ago

Same, and his comment about “some things are more important than material components” should encourage the lifetime ban. Let’s not pretend he doesn’t fully support this invasion/war.

Last edited 2 years ago by Awsi Dooger
Ledecky forever
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 years ago

This is confirmation that Rylov was not forced to appear on stage in support of Russia invasion to Ukraine.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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