Russian dual Olympic swimming champion Evgeny Rylov banned from the sport for nine months for attending Vladimir Putin rally

Russian Olympic gold medallist swimmer Evgeny Rylov has been banned from the sport for nine months for appearing at a rally in support of President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rylov stood on stage with medallists from other Olympic sports at the event last month and wore a jacket with a “Z” on the chest.

The letter isn’t part of the Russian alphabet but has become a symbol of support for Russian troops after it was used as a marker on Russian armoured vehicles operating in Ukraine.

A brief statement from swimming’s world governing body, FINA, said it “acknowledged” an earlier, as yet unpublished ruling from a disciplinary panel to ban Rylov “following Mr Rylov’s attendance and conduct at an event held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow”.

Rylov was the star of Russia’s swim team at the Olympics in Tokyo last year with two gold medals.

His ban began on Wednesday and covers any international competition.

The effect on Rylov is likely to be mostly symbolic, since FINA also extended its decision to exclude competitors from Russia, and its ally Belarus, from all international events for the remainder of 2022.

Rylov also lost a sponsorship deal with Speedo last month.

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