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Russians who changed citizenship to join foreign sport teams are not asked back

February 25, 2014, 15:43 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that Russia should protect and supports its athletes

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Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, February 25. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Ministry of Sport will not take any steps to attract our former athletes, who changed citizenship to represent foreign sports teams, back to the Russian national team, Russian Sport Minister Vitaly Mutko told journalists.

Ethnic Russian Anastasiya Kuzmina, born in the city of Tyumen in 2008, the Olympics gold winner in ladies' biathlon, represented Slovakia at the Sochi Olympics; gold winner in men's snowboard Iouri Podladtchikov, born in the town of Podolsk in the Moscow region, represented Switzerland.

"There is no reason why we should ask them back," Mutko said. "All we should do is to be very attentive to every athlete so as not to be surprised why he or she represents a country other than Russia. At times we might be very inconsiderate to our athletes, who are tempted, for instance, by our neighbors - Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan, into their national teams. We should protect our athletes and support them, including financial support, "Mutko said.

Ethnic Korean Victor Ahn, a short track champion, who had earlier represented South Korea, won three gold medals for Russia which he represented at the Sochi Olympics, snowboard champion Vic Wild, who had earlier performed for the United States, won two gold medals in men's snowboard events as a representative of Russia.

The Russian sports minister said that the tendency of "naturalization" of foreign sportsmen would continue. "Victor Ahn is our Russian guy who has won the love of the whole country which he came to love in return. Vic Wild is a wonderful person. We will continue to naturalize athletes in future as well," the sports minister said.

"I would like to win over a couple of athletes to perform for the Russian national team in a 10,000 meter ski race", Mutko joked.

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