The World Confederation of Underwater Activities did not want the Russian team to participate in the European Finswimming Championship in Liberec, the Czech Republic, Anna Arzhanova, president of the Russian Underwater Federation, said Thursday at a press conference in RIA Novosti.
She arrived in Moscow from the Czech town of Liberec where the championship is taking place these days. However, Russia, an undoubted world leader in finswimming, has not been allowed to participate in the competition.
According to Arzhanova, the reason behind the unprecedented situation is the inconsistent position of the Vice President of the Russian Olympic Committee, chairman of the National Olympic and Non-Olympic Sports Committee, Mikhail Tikhomirov.
At present, there are two federations of underwater sports in Russia. The Russian Underwater Federation was officially recognised in April 2003 by President Leonid Tyagachev of the Russian Olympic Committee and Chairman Vyacheslav Fetisov of the Russian State Sports Committee. They sent letters to the World Confederation of Underwater Activities, entitling the Russian Underwater Federation to represent Russia at the European championship.
When the Russian team arrived in the Czech Republic to participate in the tournament, Tikhomirov had sent another letter to the Confederation, stating the Russian Underwater Federation was illegitimate.
According to Arzhanova, the head of Russia's State Sports Committee and representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee tried to settle all issues and accomplish all formalities required to allow the Russian team to participate in the European Championship.
"Sportsmen must not suffer in such situations," added the president of the Russian Underwater Federation. "By denying the Russian team access to the competition, representatives of the World Confederation were proceeding from their interests." As to Tikhomirov's letter, Arzhanova is indignant with his action. "I don't know what stands behind it," she said.
The Russian team intends to get ready for the other five competitions to take place before the end of this year. In 2004, the Russians will contend for championship in China, whose finswimmers are their main rivals.
According to Arzhanova, the leadership of the World Confederation of Underwater Activities has asserted that now that all formalities have been accomplished, the Russians will be able to take part in all these contests.