Vyatchanin Blocked From Representing Serbia at Rio Olympics

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.”

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This sucks…


Does he have any familial ties to Serbia? I don’t know, but I don’t think he does. While I agree it sucks for this great athlete, who seems to be a stand up guy and has a beautiful backstroke, it would be (is) absurd if (that) athletes could (can) just pick a country off the map, have no blood ties to the country, never live there, and then be on their Olympic team. Not exactly the way the games were intended. Maybe the IOC should come up with an “unattached” category, with strict qualifying times, for all the displaced people, given the increasing number of war-torn regions. He can also just stay in the U.S., because after we build our… Read more »


You will be ‘winning winning winning ‘ so much you will be asking to stop this winning .


Indeed, we will be “great” again. Won’t have a friend in the world, but at least we’ll be “great.”


Serbia went to bat for him as to why he spends so much time in the US.. Money. They wrote a letter on his behalf because the opportunities for him to live off of the sport are few and far between there.

I just find it ridiculous that a country can forge times and there are zero sanctions for this dishonesty, but an Russian ex pat leaves the country because of its government, chooses a home “near by” and works in the US to feed his family and FINA begins to enforce “rules”…

Lane Four

Agree 100%.

Donald P. Spellman

Complete example of FINA being F.I.N.A.

bobo gigi

I like him more and more.
Courageous guy to speak like that.
That’s really a shame he can’t participate in the next olympics. FINA has no heart.

Maybe he could swim in the new IOC all-refugee team.
I don’t know if he fulfills the criteria but he has no country to represent and has left a kind of dictature to take refuge in USA.

Joel Lin

Arkady is one of the great people in this sport. This really stinks. I’d hope for a way to rocket docket him to be a US citizen. It would be very hard to make the US team in these events, but would love to see him compete at US trials.


Is that ‘kind of a dictature ‘ about Putin or President Trump ? Those two will direct the course of the world .

bobo gigi

Gina, how much time it takes you to downvote so much my comments? I would like to know. 🙂

bobo gigi

And looks like you’ve found a way of upvoting your own comments! I’m impressed. 🙂


Bobo I very rarely up or down vote. I just pop in as respite from following wars like Syria Iraq & Libya . Now I’m having to expand to Turkey . I am not at all a vindictive person – I’d more likely just say F***off. I don’t have anything in common with european people -you included. You may as well be from an orang-utan colony for all I care . BUT BUT But heehee I was right on Donald & you were wrong .

Suck it bebe.


U are just the Biggest troll on here – no interest in swimming but fake to be a swimming fan – how honest are u with your small self , i wonder .

Joel Lin

Can you send me your auto click algorithm? I’d like to use it to enroll on the McDonald’s app 110 times. If I do that I can get 100 Big Macs. Which basically means I can get 110 sandwiches. Can you send me the click algorithm. It would be super cool if I could get 110 Big Macs. That would be a lot of Big Macs.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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