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Olympic Gold Medalist Has Speedo Sponsorship Terminated After Attending Vladimir Putin Rally

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Olympic Gold Medalist Has Speedo Sponsorship Terminated After Attending Vladimir Putin Rally

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Evgeny Rylov has lost his sponsorship deal with swimwear brand Speedo after the Russian attended a Vladimir Putin rally.

According to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazette, Rylov was one of eight Russian athletes who actually appeared on stage at the rally in Moscow.

The rally took place to commemorate Russia's annexation of Crimea eight years ago, a move not recognised by other countries and deemed illegal by Ukraine.

Rylov won gold as recently as last year at the Tokyo Olympic games where he placed first in the 100 and 200-metre backstroke events.

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In a statement to CNN, Speedo said: "Following his attendance at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow at the weekend, Speedo can confirm that it has terminated the sponsorship of Evgeny Rylov with immediate effect.

"We condemn the war in Ukraine in the strongest possible way and stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, our athletes and our teammates who have been impacted by the conflict.

"As part of this decision, any outstanding sponsorship fees will be donated to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)."

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Russia had been banned from the Olympic Games over doping non-compliance, and thus Rylov represented the Russian Olympic Committee at the games where he won his gold.

However, this didn't stop the swimmer from sporting his medals while supporting his country, as pictures on social media surfaced of him wearing his Olympic medals at the rally.

He was also wearing the letter 'Z' on his outfit that has been identified on Russian vehicles in Ukraine, and used by supporters of the war.

The International Swimming Federation made a statement to CNN on the medals being pictured at the rally.

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They said: "FINA is deeply disappointed to note the reports regarding Evgeny Rylov's appearance at the Luzhniki Stadium during Friday's rally. We are investigating the matter further."

Rylov announced this week that he would be withdrawing from this year's FINA World Championships in support of the Russian athletes currently banned from competing under the Russian flag.

Rylov wrote on his Instagram: "In support of Russian Paralympians, in support of all Russian athletes who have been removed from international competitions, I refuse to go to the world championship this summer.

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"I believe that losing competition is losing the development of sport. As sad as it may sound, sport cannot move without decent competitors."

Featured Image Credit: Right pic: Orange Pics BV / Alamy. Left pic: PA Images / Alamy

Topics: Ukraine, olympics, Russia

Jayden Collins
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