International federation FIVB is among the host of organizations to sideline Russian stars
The Volleyball Women’s World Championship set for the Netherlands and Poland later this year cannot be considered complete without the participation of Russia, according to former title winner Nataliya Goncharova.
Goncharova, 33, and her compatriots will be forced to sit out the showpiece in September and October after volleyball governing body FIVB announced a ban on Russian teams from all its tournaments back in March.
When asked if she would be following the World Championship action from afar, Goncharova said she may well shun the showpiece altogether.
“I don’t even know. Without us there won’t be anything interesting. If I have free time, maybe I’ll take a look,” the 6ft 3in star, who was born in Ukraine but switched to Russia from 2010, told Match TV.
Asked to sum up the World Championship without Russia, Goncharova questioned whether it would be a legitimate spectacle.
“The World Championship without Russia isn’t the World Championship,” said the 2010 world champion and two-time European champion.
Goncharova’s comments echo those from a wide range of Russian sporting figures – including Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin – as the nation grapples with suspensions.
Matytsin has said world sport cannot hope to develop fully without the participation of Russian athletes.
Elsewhere, the likes of revered figure skating coach Eteri Tutberidze has suggested that any world titles handed out in the absence of Russians would be illegitimate – a position which the Kremlin later supported.
As well as banning Russian teams from its competitions, volleyball federation FIVB also stripped Russia of the 2022 Men’s World Championship it was due to host from August 26 to September 11 across 10 cities.
After Russia was removed from the tournament, it was announced that Ukraine would take its place as the highest-ranked team outside the nations already to have qualified.
FIVB later said the event would be moved to joint hosts Poland and Slovenia, where matches are already underway.
While the upcoming Women’s World Championship will be off limits for Goncharova and her teammates, the Dynamo Moscow star was recently in action at the ‘Spartakiad’ games which were organized in Russia to help athletes banned from international events.
The format and title were revived from the Soviet period and the event was sponsored by the Russian Sports Ministry, with prize money on offer.
Athletes will compete across 39 sports with around 9,200 people taking part in events running from August 10 to October 2.