Russia ‘has suffered enough’ and should be allowed to stop competing under a neutral flag, insists Olympic medalist Medvedeva
A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ruling in 2020 means that Russia will appear as the Russian Olympic Committee until December 2022, with athletes competing under a neutral flag at high-profile competitions including this summer's Olympic Games.
Two-time world figure skating champion Evgenia Medvedeva had been set to travel to the showpiece as an ambassador for her country until Covid-19 restrictions ruled that prospect out at late notice.
The 21-year-old watched from afar as the curious sight of stars receiving medals under a flag that was not their own played out – and now believes there can be "no two opinions" about the removal of the imposition.
"In my opinion, Russian sports have suffered enough because of this situation – not only because of the fact that athletes do not have the opportunity to sing the anthem and perform under the flag of their country." Medvedeva told Sport Express.
"Sponsors are leaving, sports marketing suffers. This has been happening for several years now. I think it's time to return the flag to the national team and remove all these restrictions.
"It is clear that we are not doing this for the sake of money, but the situation with the flag and all these restrictions hit the pockets of innocent athletes first of all."
Medvedeva says Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No1 is no substitute for the national anthem which it has temporarily replaced when athletes take to the podium.
The concerto was eventually agreed upon after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Russia's request to use folk song 'Katyusha'.
"My opinion is unequivocal: neither Katyusha nor Tchaikovsky – no matter how brilliant a composer he is – will replace the Russian anthem. Athletes compete for their country, which has an anthem and a flag."
An impassioned advocate for her peers, Medvedeva wants top Russian athletes to be afforded greater exposure.
"Personally, I would like to see [them] on the covers of magazines and advertising campaigns of major brands," suggested the double European champion.
"Not only bloggers, as is now fashionable, but the heroes of our country who win medals and become the best in the world."Also on rt.com ‘I will support the guys’: Restrictions in Japan halt ice queen Medvedeva going to Tokyo as ambassador to Russia at 2020 Olympics