Ukrainian Olympian boasts about Russian bans
Olga Saladukha, the retired Ukrainian triple jump star who has since 2019 served in the country's parliament as a member of the Servant of the People party, has called for Russian athletes to be barred from taking part in all international competitions as punishment for the actions of their country's government in its military campaign.
Russia has felt the wrath of the global sporting community since the launch of the military operation in late February. Various Russian sports have been hit with sanctions, with its international football team being effectively barred from this year's World Cup in Qatar as well as other sports from canoeing to karate seeing Russians severely restricted.
These measures followed a dictum by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which called upon various federations to impose restrictions on Russian athletes.
And Saladukha wants to ensure that Russia and its sporting infrastructure feels the heat.
“How did we get them removed? The first thing we did was chat,” she said to the Direct FM YouTube channel, as noted by Sport-Express.
“Each of the federations began to work, write letters, write appeals from the federation to international organizations that Ukraine does not want to compete with Russia.
“Then it is step by step, little by little. In tournaments, athletes did not even go out on the track. They said, 'We don't want to. We will boycott these competitions.'”
Saladukha's comments come after the IOC said that Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev and pole vaulter Elena Isinbayeva should be allowed to attend events as members of the organization.
This did not go down well with Saladukha.
“It caused indignation in us, because what are they, astronauts?” she explained.
“Are they from another planet? They are Russians. If they are Russians, then we demanded that neither the jury, nor the judges, nor the coaches, nor the governing bodies, nor the athletes, should there be Russian representatives anywhere. At least at the present time, they should be removed.”
Some sports federations have permitted Russian and Belarusian athletes to perform under neutral flags but others, such as the recent Wimbledon tennis tournament in London, took a hard-line stance on the issue and issued a flat refusal when it comes to Russians taking part.
Saladukha was an Olympic bronze medalist at the London 2012 Games, and claimed gold in the 2010 European Championships and in the 2011 World Championships. She is married to the former professional cyclist, Denys Kostyuk.