Russian Swimming Federation President Vladimir Salnikov spoke to Russian media last week, saying that all nations should face the same criteria when it comes to Olympic anti-doping bans.
That’s according to RadioKP.ru, which published a longform Q&A with Salnikov late last week. You can see the interview (in its original Russian) here. A few major points from Salnikov’s comments:
Salnikov says that through conversations with members of the FINA Bureau, he understands that there will be a “sound approach” to making sure that clean athletes are able to compete in the Tokyo Olympics this year.
“The principles applicable to the admission of athletes to competitions should be the same for everyone,” Salnikov said (in a rough translation from Russian). Currently, WADA is in line to strip Russia’s anti-doping agency of its compliance, which would bump Russia as a nation out of the 2020 Olympics. Russian athletes could potentially compete under a neutral flag, but would have to prove that they weren’t implicated in the McLaren Reports of being aided by the nation’s state-run doping program.
Some have suggested that Russian athletes with previous doping violations could be barred from the Olympics. Salnikov strongly disagreed with this proposal.
“I believe that an athlete who was disqualified and served his sentence, and then returned to duty, proving that his results were achieved through hard work without the use of prohibited substances, should be on par with everyone,” Salnikov said. “If they decide to remove him from international competitions, then such a rule should be applicable to everyone else.”
Salnikov said that in many cases, the “presumption of guilt is already present,” saying Russian athletes are treated unfairly and calling them “hostages” in a broader conflict between WADA and RUSADA.
Salnikov: ‘Contracts Already Signed’ for 2022, 2025 Worlds
Also of note: Salnikov said that RUSADA non-compliance would not affect Russia’s hosting of the 2022 Short Course World Championships or 2025 World Championships. The Russian swim head said that contracts had already been signed, and suggesting that the meets could still go on in Russia, though with another organization stepping in for RUSADA to handle anti-doping activities during the meets.
One more interesting tidbit: Salnikov said that in 2016, with Russia facing a similar situation with regard to Olympic eligibility, the head of FINA’s Anti-Doping Committee suggested – three days before the start of the Rio Olympics – that Russian athletes should only be declared eligible if they had passed six or more anti-doping tests carried out by foreign laboratories. Salnikov said he proposed that Russian athletes would immediately take the required tests if the samples could be tested in time for the start of the Olympics, and that the head of the committee “quickly retreated” from the idea.