Former Russian Olympic bronze medalist Arkady Vyatchanin will not be able to represent Serbia at this summer’s Olympic Games as FINA has denied his request for a change in citizenship.
Vyatchanin announced the news on Wednesday in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. Last week, we reported that Vyatchanin would not be a part of the Serbian roster for the European Championships due to a holdup with his request for a sporting citizenship change with FINA.
A few days later, Vyatchanin posted on his Facebook page, explaining the issue more fully. The hangup appears to be with the swimmer’s residency in Serbia. FINA rules require Vyatchanin to prove he has lived in Serbia for 6 of the last 12 months. In his Facebook post, Vyatchanin shared the difficulties of providing for his family financially while living in Serbia.
Vyatchanin was only able to make swimming financially viable while competing in the United States, where the Arena Pro Swim Series provided prize money and the New York Athletic Club provided funding for meets and expenses.
Vyatchanin says in the AP piece that he will now aim for his U.S. citizenship, though he doesn’t have enough time to do so before Rio. He did not, however, rule out competing for an American Olympic berth in 2020.
The swimmer also said he does not regret his decision to leave Russia after winning two bronze medals for his native nation in 2008.
“I love my country, my native country. That will stay in my heart forever,” Vyatchanin said in the interview. “I would like to visit sometime. But the government is the reason why Russia looks bad right now. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is.”