Evgeny Rylov won two gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics and is one of swimming's biggest stars.
The Russian swimmer is also a major supporter of President Vladimir Putin.
On Friday, he was banned from swimming for nine months for attending a pro-war rally in March.
Evgeny Rylov, a Russian swimmer who won two gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, has been banned from the sport for nine months.
The ban came as a result of Rylov's attendance at a rally in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine. Rylov was one of a number of elite Russian sportspeople to attend the rally, which was held in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium in March, around four weeks after the invasion of Ukraine was launched.
In a Thursday statement, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) — swimming's governing body — confirmed that Rylov will be unable to compete for nine months, starting from April 20.
The statement said the ban comes "following Mr. Rylov's attendance and conduct at an event held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 18 March 2022."
While Rylov's ban may seem lengthy, it is in effect only 20 days long because all Russian and Belarusian swimmers are already currently prohibited from competing in FINA sanctioned events — including the summer's World Championships in Budapest, Hungary — until the end of 2022. Rylov's ban runs until January 20, 2023.
Russian swimmer Evgeny Rylov competes during the Tokyo Olympics. Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rylov, who won gold in both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events at the Tokyo Olympic Games, has already faced significant backlash in the world of swimming for his attendance at the rally, including being dropped by his main sponsor, Speedo, soon after it emerged that he was there.
The 25-year-old swimmer appeared onstage at the protest wearing his Olympic medals and the "Z" symbol, which has been seen painted on Russian vehicles in Ukraine, shortly before Putin gave a speech.
In the days after being dropped by Speedo, Rylov was defiant, saying in an interview with Russian media that he was subject to a witch hunt due to his success, and claiming that he is the global face of his sport.
"I think the whole point is that I am the world face of swimming and double the demand on me," he told newspaper Sport-Express.
"If it wasn't for me who went on stage at Luzhniki, but for someone else from the swimmers, they might not even pay attention. At the Olympics, I attracted increased attention, and now it is riveted to me in all aspects of life," he said.
Rylov's ban from swimming came a day after tennis' best-known tournament, Wimbledon, confirmed that it will not allow Russian or Belarusian athletes to compete this year.