The Olympic bronze medalist produced a photo of himself alongside the Russian President
Former world championship contender and 2014 Winter Olympics bronze medalist Ilia Chernousov has shared a photo of himself with Russian President Vladimir Putin alongside a message appearing to reference the attack on Ukraine.
Cross-country ski star Chernousov published the snap, which shows him smiling while standing next to a suited Putin, on Instagram.
“For sports,” the 35-year-old wrote on the platform, where he has almost 10,000 followers. “For peace.”
It is not clear when the photo was taken, although a picture credited to the Kremlin’s official website, dated a day after the Sochi games ended eight years ago, shows Chernousov meeting Putin in a more official capacity.
Chernousov came third in the 50km mass start at those Games and finished fifth in the 30km skiathlon – the race in which he won bronze at the 2011 World Championships in Oslo.
The Novosibirsk-born athlete first raced in 2011 and has not competed since 2016.
In June 2014, Chernousov married Swiss biathlete Selina Gasparin, who won silver in Sochi and competed in her fourth successive Games at the Beijing edition in February.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) announced in May 2020 that Chernousov had changed his sports citizenship and would be representing Switzerland, according to Tass.
“Swiss-Ski Federation was not involved in the change of nationality of Ilya Chernousov by FIS,” a statement from the organization said at the time.
“He is not yet allowed to start for Switzerland as he has no Swiss citizenship yet. The naturalization procedure starts this summer.”
The President of the Russian Cross-Country Ski Federation, Yelena Vyalbe, told the outlet that the federation ‘had nothing against’ Chernousov’s decision.
Vyalbe reportedly added that Chernousov would be eligible for the Swiss team at the 2022 Winter Olympics.