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‘100 percent a political act’: Outrage as Russian flag is swiped during draughts world final after ‘order from WADA heads’ (VIDEO)

‘100 percent a political act’: Outrage as Russian flag is swiped during draughts world final after ‘order from WADA heads’ (VIDEO)
Poland has been accused of a "political provocation" after the flag of the Russian finalist was removed midway through a match to decide the world draughts champion, with organizers claiming they had acted on a call from WADA.

Tamara Tansykkuzhina was attempting to claw back Polish rival Natalia Sadovskaya's lead at the final in Warsaw when her nation's colors were abruptly removed, with match secretary Jacek Pawlicki stepping in to peel her name and the flag off a strip placed prominently on the table where the showdown was taking place.

The Russian team claimed that the incident had cost Tansykkuzhina precious time as she lost the fourth round of the contest, and the resulting political scandal has even involved the Kremlin.

Pawlicki said the move had been ordered by Vitold Banka, the former Polish sports minister who is now the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

“I got a call on behalf of Vitold Banka and was asked to remove the Russian flag from the table despite the fact that the game was going on," he told Championat.

"I didn't know how Tamara would react but I had to do it. The Polish side did nothing wrong."

In December, the Court of Arbitration for Sports announced that Russian athletes were banned from competing at world championship events for two years under their flag – and Pawlicki said he had been told that the World Draughts Federation would be punished with exclusion if they did not take immediate action.

“The situation is just ugly," said Anatoly Shkodin, the Vice-President of the Russian Draughts Federation. "It is a disgrace to remove the flag right during a match when WADA calls.

"Can a protest be filed? We will respond, do not worry. This affects the player with a psychological blow. The player was thrown off balance during a serious match. This is one hundred percent a political act initiated by WADA."

State Duma Deputy Dmitry Svishchev backed calls for a protest and voiced concerns that the situation could have occurred as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, limiting the number of people who were able to travel with Tansykkuzhina and potentially "defend the interests of our athletes, the delegation, our flag and our country."

“[CAS obligations] clearly state what can be used by the Russian delegation, what you can wear and what you can't," he said, calling the removal a "boorish act".

"[Either an] inattentive attitude led to a violation of the regulations – they put up a flag, put up signs – or, even worse, it is a deliberate provocation in order to once again draw attention to the difficult relations between Poland and the Russian Federation.

"I think this is a political provocation that is in no way compatible with sports. Unfortunately, this has become a pattern: everything that is happening in sports now is provocation: political actions, slogans, demarches."

The Russian flag is said to have been allowed on the table during the previous days' play and in broadcast previews, but Tansykkuzhina's surname has now reportedly been accompanied by neutral gray and white colors.

“This is a very unfortunate incident," the Press Secretary of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskovbut, told R-Sport. "As far as I know, the chairman of the corresponding federation has already apologized, so I think this case should be considered settled.

"I know that our athlete lost in this match and, of course, I think that her loss is largely due to this incident."

The head coach of the Russian national draughts team, Yuri Chertok, said that although no one had been allowed to approach the table, Tansykkuzhina had little protection because she had only been accompanied by her coach, ten-time world champion Alexei Chizhov.

"This is a direct violation of the regulations," he told RT, slamming a "gross interference in the gameplay." "Except for the head referee, no one can approach the table and enter the playing area – only the participants and the head referee. He was totally against it.

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"Tansykkuzhina lost a lot of time. This could have been done before the game, and after, at any time. The fact that the flag was removed during the game unsettled [her].

"I watched the match and did not immediately understand what had happened. I was just distracted at that moment.

"I thought that she was sitting for so long and not making obvious moves, [and I wondered] what she was thinking about. I even swore to myself. Then they just called me and told me what happened."

The match, which continues until May 3, consists of nine rounds, with 12 points played in each. The winner needs 54 points, and Sadovskaya is currently leading 32-16.

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