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Babel: Russian judo athletes to compete in “neutral” status despite military ties

15 Russian judo athletes with army connections are seeking to skirt IOC guidance and compete at November’s European Championships, investigation says
Judo Russian team compete as neutral athletes IOC
Graphic by Babel
Babel: Russian judo athletes to compete in “neutral” status despite military ties

A number of Russian judo athletes with military ties are seeking to compete at the European Judo Championships in France next month as “neutral” athletes, despite International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidance that active military members should not participate in international sports events.

According to an investigation by Ukrainian media outlet Babel, at least 15 of the 40 Russian judo athletes registered for the competition have connections to the country’s armed forces. Quoting the outlet’s correspondent Alexander Myasishchev, “We established that of the 40 Russian judo athletes who are set to go to the European Championships in France, 18 belong to two large organizations tied to Russia’s security forces—the CSKA and Dinamo.”

The report states that while the IOC recommended banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Judo Federation relaxed this guidance in May 2022. Myasishchev’s review of the athletes’ social media accounts and biographies revealed indications of direct military membership as well as public support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

For example, the investigation claims that athlete Inal Tasoyev is a flag officer in the Russian army who received the “For Strengthening Military Cooperation” medal. Meanwhile, it alleges athletes like Mikhail Igolnikov and Kamila Badurova hold ranks in the armed forces and are affiliated with CSKA, an army sports club overseen by Russia’s defense ministry.

The European Judo Championships are scheduled for November 3-5 in Montpellier, France. The Ukrainian Judo Federation has previously boycotted events including Russian or Belarusian participants.

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