Radovan Siljevsi contributed to this report.
With the European Championships taking place in just 10 days, Olympic medal-winning backstroker Arkady Vyatchanin has still not been cleared by FINA to compete for his new sporting nation of Serbia.
Vyatchanin was the Olympic bronze medalist in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes while competing for Russia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But he left the country in 2013 in search of a new nation for which to compete, announcing in January of 2015 that he hoped to represent Serbia in future endeavors.
But swimming’s international governing body, FINA, has not yet confirmed Vyatchanin’s transfer of his sporting citizenship, meaning he won’t be among the 7 Serbian swimmers competing at the European Championships.
FINA’s hangup appears to be with Vyatchanin’s Serbian residency. The swimming federation says Vyatchanin hasn’t proved that he has resided in Serbia for 6 of the last 12 months since getting his Serbian citizenship. The Serbian federation is continuing to fight for Vyatchanin’s eligibility, but the federation’s early European champs roster does not include Vyatchanin.
That 7-man European Championships roster:
- Velimir Stjepanovic
- Caba Siladi
- Ivan Lendjer
- Stefan Sorak
- Vuk Celic
- Nikolic Uros
- Andrej Barna
Vyatchanin can still earn his citizenship by the Olympic Games, but the biggest blow for the Serbian national team comes in the relays. With Vyatchanin, national record-holding breaststroker Siladi, two-time Olympic butterflyer Lendjer and 2014 European champ Stjepanovic, Serbia could have put together a medley relay that could have competed for one of the final 4 Olympic spots.
The European Championships was likely Serbia’s last shot at earning that Olympic bid, as the final 4 relays are selected at the end of May.