Pan Arab Games: Russian athletes 'competing for Syria to avoid sanctions'
The games kicked off on Wednesday in the Algerian capital of Algiers, involving 3,800 athletes playing in 22 sports.
"Russian athletes are trying to circumvent sanctions by using third countries to participate in international competitions," Andriy Yermak, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, wrote on Thursday, according to The New Voice of Ukraine.
“For example, at the Pan Arab Games in Algeria, Russian athletes were declared to be Syrians. Russian javelin thrower Karina Poludkina allegedly became a Syrian citizen and changed her name to Karina Polud.
“Swimmer Anastasia Sorokina also became Enas Sorkine, a Syrian, and cyclist Daria Malkova became Darie Malko, and at the same time she became a year younger – instead of her year of birth in 2000, her date of birth on the Pan Arab Games website is 2001."
Yermak's remarks echoed claims made in a report by the Russian opposition news outlet The Insider.
The head of the Syrian Sports Federation and the Syrian Olympic Committee, Firas Mualla, has denied the claims, saying there are no Russians competing for Syria in Algeria, according to Zaman Al-Wasl.
Mualla told Russia's RIA Novosti agency, that three Russian athletes had applied to international sports bodies to obtain compete for Syria but were refused.
The Russian Athletics Federation is reportedly investigating the matter.