Arkady Vyatchanin loves his country.
He just doesn’t want to represent Russia at the Olympics.
That stance has left the swimmer in legal limbo with the Rio Games less than five months away, the pawn in a political tug-of-war that again shows just how little the guys in charge actually care about the athletes.
“I guess I underestimated the burden that I’ll carry,” said Vyatchanin, who lives and trains in the United States and wants to swim for Serbia in what very well could be his last shot at the Olympics.
Vyatchanin has an impressive resume. At the 2008 Beijing Games, he captured a pair of bronze medals, finishing behind American winners Aaron Peirsol in the 100-meter backstroke and Ryan Lochte in the 200 back. He also has four medals from the world championships — three silvers and a bronze.
After a disappointing performance at the London Olympics, where Vyatchanin failed to qualify for the final in either backstroke event, he had a falling-out with the Russian swimming federation over his decision to begin training in Gainesville, Florida, under renowned coach and longtime Lochte mentor Gregg Troy.
More troubling, Vyatchanin had serious concerns about just how committed his country was to the battle against doping, a stance that turned out to be very well-founded given the almost daily revelations of ramping cheating throughout Russian sports.
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