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Russia looking to bypass blanket ban on athletes, compete under Belarus flag

As many of its athletes face an unjust blanket ban from international competitions, including the Paralympics, Russia looks to closest ally, Belarus, to solve the problem.

On November 13, 2015, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) terminated the membership of the Russian Athletics Federation for an unspecified period due to what remain to be questionable doping allegations. As a result, all Russian track and field athletes have been banned from competing in all international events, including world championships and the Olympics, under the flag of the Russian Federation.

One Russian member of parliament, Evgeniy Fedorov, may have found the solution to the problem. Fedorov, who represents Premier Medvedev’s pro-Putin United Russia party and leads the country’s National Liberation Movement, is suggesting that Russian athletes compete under the flag of Belarus instead, at least until the doping scandal clears up and the membership of the Russian Athletics Federation in the IAAF is reinstated.

Fedorov has already sent an official inquiry to the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who also happens to head Belarus’s Olympic Committee, asking to explore this option.

“Taking into account the current status of the Union State between Russia and Belarus, I ask you to start preliminary consultations on the possibility of performances of Russian athletes at international competitions under the flag of the Republic of Belarus until the lifting of the International Association of Athletics Federations ban,” – the inquiry is quoted as saying, according to Lenta.ru.

The idea itself is indeed brilliant. Russia and Belarus are fraternal allies. Both are members of the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and even share a special “Union State” status, making borders between the two states virtually non-existent.

The vast majority of Russians and Belarussians don’t differentiate between the two nations, considering both to be part of a single civilizational space.

The same, until recently, was the case with Ukraine. However, as the West, with the help of radical nationalists and neo-Nazi factions within Ukraine, attempts to pull that country away from Russia’s historically, culturally, economically, and geopolitically justified sphere of influence, a show of fraternal unity with Belarus will undoubtedly send a strong signal to all those who still perceive themselves to be a part of the Russian world.

The move, if allowed, would also see Belarus skyrocket in medal counts and rankings, improving the image and adding prestige to the country’s sports sector. After all, during the good old days of the Cold War, it was the Soviet Union (which included Belarus) that had no equals, taking the most gold medals in the history of international sports.

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Sergey Gladysh
Contributor at The Duran.
Co-founder and president of the Russian-American Youth Association.
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