Banned from the Paralympic Games, Wimbledon, various world championships and forced to play under a neutral banner most of the time: Russian athletes have often been punished by international bodies since the start of the war in Ukraine. While some defend this decision, arguing that athletes are an instrument of power or that Ukrainians cannot participate, others find these boycotts unfair for athletes who have done nothing wrong.
But one point of view should make a lot of noise: that of Alina Kabaeva, a former Russian gymnast. If her name means nothing to you, know that she would be above all the companion of Vladimir Poutine for 15 years and the mother of three or four children, all born of this relationship. If nothing has ever been confirmed by those concerned, the former gymnast had been extremely protected at the start of the war in Ukraine, barricaded in a chalet in Lugano, Switzerland, transformed into a quasi-bunker.
Reappearing this week with a bloated face (probably due to cosmetic procedures according to local media), she went to an artistic gymnastics competition where she took the opportunity to criticize the treatment reserved for Russian athletes around the world. “There has never been such a shameful page in the history of world sport“, she would have argued, according to the DailyMail.
But that’s not all : “They did not worry and did not remove from competition any country that participated in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. But sports officials were very angry when Russia decided to protect Donbass and Lugansk from the Nazis“, she continued, repeating the reasons given by her government to justify the invasion of Ukraine.
An unsurprising first speech which therefore defends Vladimir Putin’s action, forgetting that in the first countries mentioned, Russia was also accused of massacres (especially in Syria)… But regardless of the policy and the boycott, Alina Kabaeva maintains this and affirms it: “Russia was, is and will be a great sporting power, and there is nothing you can do about it“.
Recently, it was the Wimbledon tennis tournament that banned Russian and Belarusian players from playing the tournament, as a result of the war in Ukraine. A decision criticized in particular by Andrey Rublev, who offered to play and donate his winnings to an association helping refugees. Alexandr Dolgopolov, a former Ukrainian player who is currently defending his country with arms, replied by calling him a liar.