Artistic swimmer Anastasia Davydova, the Olympic champion with five gold medals, and who since her retirement after the London 2012 Olympic Games served as the secretary general of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), fled the country, according to the state news agency TASS.
Davydova's departure follows a partial mobilization of reserves in the country to join the war against Ukraine and the Ministry of Sports, which ordered national governing bodies to suspend training camps outside the country, raising fears that she would be drafted.
TASS reported that 39-year-old Davydova informed staff at the Moscow swimming center that she was leaving and had no intention of returning to Russia.
Many athletes in Russia work in the public sector, some, like Olympic swimming champion Yevgeny Rilov, in the police, medicine and related services.
Davydova won five Olympic gold medals in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Tatiana Danchenko, Davydova's mentor and Russia's head artistic swimming coach, is quoted by TASS as confirming that her former protégé has left the country.
The ROC stated that Davidova did not resign as Secretary General.
The president of the ROC, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, was an ardent supporter of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Just last week, he was quoted as saying that any athlete called up for military service should "respect" and serve Russia.
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