Russian athletes can’t seem to get out of their own way in Beijing.
Russian Olympic Committee speed skater Daniil Aldoshkin raised two middle fingers after a first-place finish in the team pursuit semifinals on Tuesday, and later provided a strange explanation when his actions were publicly called out.
According to the 20-year-old Aldoshkin, his actions carried no ill-intent towards anyone.
“I threw up my hands, I have the first medal, the first Olympics,” Aldoshkin told RT.com. “I didn’t mean anything like that. I’m sorry if this offended anyone.”
Aldoshkin’s defiant celebration was relatively short-lived, with the ROC ultimately falling short of the gold medal in the final and settling for silver.
“Emotions took over at the finish line,” Russian Skating Union President Alexei Kravtsov told RT. “There was no subtext in this action. We are sorry if someone differently perceived this situation and offended someone. On behalf of the Russian Skating Union, we offer our official apologies.”
Russian athletes have not shied away from the negative spotlight in the Beijing games, with star figure skater Kamila Valieva involved in an alleged doping scandal that has largely overshadowed the Olympics. The 15-year-old tested positive for a banned heart medication in late December, but was permitted to continue competing in Beijing by the International Olympic Committee while under investigation.
Russia was famously involved in a significant doping scandal following the 2014 Sochi Games, prompting the IOC to ban the country from subsequent Olympics. Russian athletes have been allowed to compete under a neutral flag since the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.
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