Former world heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev predicted that athletes would not take the step
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Former world boxing champion and current State Duma deputy Nikolai Valuev has predicted that Russian athletes will not commit “betrayal” and change citizenship to get around bans on their participation in international competitions.
As a response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, many sporting federations have banned Russian athletes from global events following an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation.
Despite this, Valuev does not believe that there will be a “mass change of citizenship by Russian athletes against the backdrop of suspensions from international competitions”.
“It seems to me that national team athletes will not do this, despite the illegal sanctions,” the ex-WBA king, who retired after suffering just a second career loss to David Haye in 2009, told Sport24.
Valuev went on to note that at this moment in time, “changing sports citizenship is a real betrayal.”
“Therefore, few people dare to do this,” he claimed.
“As for the suspensions themselves, all our sports federations need to follow the example of the RFU (Russian Football Union) and appeal these decisions to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport).
“All these decisions are absolutely illegal,” Valuev said.
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As Valuev highlighted, Russian football officials appealed to the CAS with a view to overturning a FIFA and UEFA ban on Russian teams and clubs in international competitions.
While the UEFA ban was provisionally upheld on Tuesday, FIFA’s decision to stop the men’s team from playing a Qatar 2022 playoff semi-final against Poland, who have been given a bye to a final against Sweden or the Czech Republic, is still under deliberation.
Russian football chiefs lose appeal against UEFA ban
Elsewhere, Russian athletes and officials have described the swathes of sports sanctions against the country as discriminatory and even “sporting genocide,” arguing that principles of keeping sport outside of politics are been cast aside.