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29 Apr, 2021 15:01

‘I’m sure many Russians are upset’: Official admits feeling ‘pressure’ as anti-doping body WADA distances itself from flag scandal

‘I’m sure many Russians are upset’: Official admits feeling ‘pressure’ as anti-doping body WADA distances itself from flag scandal

A Polish official who removed a Russian player's flag during the World Draughts Championship in Warsaw has said he is "truly sorry" – while the World Anti-Doping Agency has insisted it did not order the move to be made mid-match.

The world anti-doping watchdog confirmed that it ordered the Russian flag to be removed in order to comply with a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which has banned Russia’s national symbols at major sports events for a two-year period.

Bosses have insisted that the request didn’t imply immediate action was required, even though the Russian tricolor was removed mid-game in a distraction for Russian finalist Tamara Tansykkuzhina that was said to have cost her a round.

WADA did not intend and did not ask for the flags to be removed during a match," the body told Reuters in a statement. "The manner in which they were removed is not a question for WADA."

The incident happened at the showpiece on Tuesday, when Tansykkuzhina's national flag was abruptly taken off the table on which the championship final was being played, causing a scandal that drew responses from sporting chiefs in both countries and the Kremlin.

Six-time world champion Tansykkuzhina and her Polish opponent, Natalia Sadovskaya, were battling for the world draughts crown when match secretary Jacek Pawlicki stepped in, explaining that he was acting on a call from WADA.

He later apologized for the incident that saw a political row break out, admitting that WADA’s order could have been handled differently.

Also on rt.com Polish ace removes flag in solidarity with Russian rival whose national tricolor was torn off mid-game during draughts world final

There’s this position on the board called ‘zugzwang’, which means there’s no good move to make... and that’s what we had yesterday: a zugzwang,” he said.

Maybe we should’ve turned off the cameras at that moment. We didn’t think of that. We were really under pressure and we were afraid.

"I'm sure that many Russians are upset and for that I am truly sorry. We never had any bad intentions."

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