Seeing Russians compete is a ‘nasty feeling’

Russia is not allowed to officially send athletes to the Olympics after a state-sponsored doping scheme, but Russian athletes are still competing under a neutral flag under the “Russian Olympic Committee” moniker.

As could perhaps be expected, several athletes are frustrated with those athletes’ success. American rower Megan Kalmoe expressed her frustration with the Russian tandem of Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia after they took home silver in the rowing A final.

“Seeing a crew who shouldn’t even be here walk away with a silver is a nasty feeling,” Kalmoe wrote on Twitter. “Really disappointing overall and I feel for the other athletes in the A Final. Big love to all my friends and frenemies who gave it everything out there.”

Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia show their silver medals.
Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia show their silver medals.
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Kalmoe, along with Tracy Eisser, competed against Stepanova and Oriabinskaia in the semifinals, in which the Russians placed second and the Americans placed fifth. Only the top three semifinalists advance to the A final, so Kalmoe and Eisser would still not have made it even if the Russians were absent. They ended up competing in the B final.

That did not ease her frustrations watching the Russians compete – and win – without any individual consequences.

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“I just posted on Twitter a couple of things that I’m sure some people will be upset about, or maybe they won’t,” Kalmoe clarified to “But I think a lot of people in this field are very, very classy women who are probably a little bit too polite to say some of the stuff that I’m willing to say, especially because I wasn’t in the A-final, and also because Russia beat us by enough places in our qualifier that they didn’t take a spot from us, but having them here and having them walk away with one of the medals was really hard for me to watch.

“I don’t think that they should have been here, and there are a lot of women here that I think were very qualified to win one of those medals, and them not having that opportunity because that boat was here was very problematic for me as a competitor.”

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