© Reuters. Velikaya, chairman of the Athletes Commission of the Russian Olympic Committee, attends a meeting in Moscow
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian athletes on Thursday proposed to play the patriotic folk song ‘Katyusha’ at international sporting events for the next two years, while Russia’s national anthem is banned for doping violations, news agencies reported. ‘Katyusha’ is a song that gained great popularity during World War II and, according to some accounts, inspired the name of the Katyusha rocket launchers of the Soviet Union. The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld a ruling last month that prohibited Russian athletes from competing in major international events, including the Olympics, under the country’s flag until 2022. It was a severe blow for Russia. sport that has been marred in recent years by a series of doping scandals. On Thursday, the sport’s supreme court, the CAS, released a 186-page document providing more details on its decision. The ruling, which cut Russia’s original four-year ban by half, will leave Russian athletes without their flag and national anthem at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and the Cup. Soccer World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The Athletes Commission of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) proposed ‘Katyusha’ as an alternative to the national anthem. “There were many options for musical accompaniment, even some modern ones,” said Olympic fencer Sofya Velikaya, who chairs the athletes commission, quoted by Russian news agencies. “But we settled on ‘Katyusha’ by a large number of votes.” It was not immediately clear if ‘Katyusha’ would be allowed to play. In its December ruling, the CAS said: “The Russian national anthem (or any anthem related to Russia) will not be officially played or sung at any official venue at the event.” He said this included the opening, closing and medal ceremonies. A 2015 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency found evidence of mass doping among Russian track and field athletes. Russia, which has acknowledged some shortcomings in the implementation of its anti-doping policies in the past, denies having a state-sponsored doping program.