Famous Russian figure skaters cheated Russia out of money and then changed their citizenship
Russian figure skaters Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin received money from the Russian budget in the 2022/23 season. Diana, 20, and Smolkin, 23, joined the Georgian national team in early June 2023.
In the 2022/23 season, Davis and Smolkin did not take part in any competitions, and the head coach of the Russian national team, Elena Tchaikovskaya, said that no money was spent on them.
"They didn't come to Russia, so we let them go," Tchaikovskaya said in an interview with TASS.
A statement from the Russian Ministry of Sport refutes the coach's words.
"These athletes were included in the lists of candidates for the national figure skating team in the 2022/23 sports season and received financial support from the federal budget," the Ministry of Sport said in a document cited by R-Sport.
While playing for Russia, they became silver medallists of the Russian Championship (2022), bronze medallists of the Russian Junior Championship (2020), and winners of the Russian Junior Cup Final (2021). At the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, the Davis/Smolkin duo took 14th place.
According to The Wall Street Journal, on 18 March, two and a half weeks after the ban was imposed, Davis, a US citizen by birth, and her partner Smolkin, who was born in St Petersburg, were married in Las Vegas.
The Wall Street Journal claimed that their marriage was a step towards Smolkin's expedited naturalisation and the couple's move to the US national team to compete in the 2026 Olympics.
It is worth noting that after the events of 24 February last year, Russia experienced a massive outflow of athletes. For example, the famous Russian swimmer Anastasia Kirpichnikova decided to play for the French national team.
Sofia Prosvirnova, a four-time world championship medallist and five-time European short track champion, also refused to compete for Russia. The 25-year-old decided that she would compete under the Danish flag.
Prior to that, Russian former world heavyweight champion Murat Gassiev was granted Armenian citizenship.
Earlier it became known that Viktor Plitsev, a two-time winner of the World Biathlon Championships among boys and juniors, was granted sports citizenship of North Macedonia.