Sergey Lisin, a Russian sports journalist and former professional speedskater, claimed on his Telegram channel “Golyj Sport” on July 4 that five Russian athletes had illegally registered as members of Syria’s team in an international tournament in Algeria:
"Russian athletes are listed as members of the Syrian team at the Pan-Arab Games that started in Algeria. Most of them have their names changed, two of them have their dates of birth [changed]."
That is true.
The five athletes that Lisin says registered as members of the Syrian team at the Arab Sports Games in Algeria are citizens of Russia and members of Russian national teams. International sports rules forbid an athlete from having more than one sports nationality simultaneously.
The Arab Sports Games, formerly the Pan Arab Games, are organized by the 22-member Union of Arab Olympic Committees every four years.
A by-law to Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter mandates a three-year timeout for athletes who changed nationality before they are allowed to represent their new country at the games. Exemptions are regulated under special procedures but competing under a fake national identity is a serious violation.
National Olympic committees and sports federations have similar rules for changing nationality. Athletes are required to wait for one to three years between competing for one country and competing for a new one.
Below are the five Russian athletes listed as Syrians at the Arab Sports Games in Algeria.
The Russian Ministry of Sports includes Daria Andreyevna Dzhedzhula, born November 19, 1995, among the list of candidates for the 2023 Russian national badminton team.
She is also listed on the Badminton World Federation’s website as Daria Dzhedzhula, born on November 19, 1995, representing Russia.
On the website of the 2023 Arab Sports Games, she is listed as a member of the Syrian team under a different name - Dasha Dhedhula - and with a different date of birth - November 18, 1999.
Photos posted on the website of the Badminton Federation of the Republic of Tatarstan and on VK (formerly VKontakte), the Russian online social media and social networking service, confirm that Russian badminton team member Daria Dzhedzhula and Syrian badminton team member Dasha Dhedhula are the same person.
On the website of the 2023 Arab Sports Games, she is registered as a Syrian cyclist named Darie Malko, born on July 4, 2001.
In a July 5 interview with the Baza Telegram news channel and the Match-TV website, Daria Malkova confirmed that she was registered as a member of the Syrian team. She claimed that she was now training in Syria, but insisted she was not going to compete in Algeria and did not know anything about having been registered as a Syrian cyclist.
On June 20-22, Malkova participated in the Russian cycling championship in the country’s Voronezh region.
On the website of the 2023 Arab Sports Games, Malkova is registered as an athlete from Syria, under the fictitious name Tatia Malko, with her date of birth changed to December 25, 2005.
In a July 5 interview with RIA Novosti, Malkova confirmed that she and her sister Daria Malkova were registered as Syrian cyclists in Algeria but said she “did not plan to compete at the Pan-Arab Games.”
The website of World Athletics, the international athletics governing body, lists Karina Poludkina as a Russian athlete born September 16, 2003.
On the website of the 2023 Arab Sports Games, she is registered as Syrian national team member Karina Polud, born September 15, 2003.
In a July 6 interview with the Match TV channel, Poludkina claimed she was registered as a member of the Syrian national team without her knowledge.
World Aquatics, the international federation of water sports, lists Sorokina as a Russian athlete born June 1, 2004.
According to Sergei Kolobkov, coach of the Russian national swimming team, Sorokina is a member of that team.
Sorokina is registered as a member of the Syrian national team for the Arab Sports Games under the name Enas Sorkine, born May 31, 2004.
In a July 5 interview with the Russian sports website Sports.ru, Sorokina admitted she was going to take part in the Arab Sports Games as a member of the Syrian national team, under a fictitious name and surname and with a false date of birth:
“I was offered the competition as a commercial start; the organizers said there would be no problems.
As a result, when the situation changed, we decided to withdraw from the competition so there would be no problems.”
Earlier on July 5, the Russian Ministry of Sports stated that Russian athletes were not taking part in the Arab Sports Games and had not declared a change of citizenship, “with the exception of two people.”
TASS quoted the ministry as naming those two athletes as Milana Mugu (judo) and Alexandra Maksimov (artistic gymnastics), saying they were among the athletes officially representing the Syrian national team but were “not included in the approved lists of candidates for the sports teams of the Russian Federation for 2023.”