Polish draughts queen Natalia Sadovskaya has removed her national flag from the table in support of her Russian opponent, Tamara Tansykkuzhina, who had the Russian tricolor abruptly taken away during their world champs final.
The incendiary incident that saw a political row broke out happened as Tansykkuzhina and Sadovskaya clashed for the world draughts crown in Warsaw.
Match secretary Jacek Pawlicki stepped in to remove Tansykkuzhina’s name and flag, explaining that he was acting on a call from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which has banned Russia’s national symbols at major sporting events for two years over alleged manipulations.
The organizers’ move triggered public outrage, with Poland being accused of a “political provocation.”
The Russian team claimed that the incident had cost Tansykkuzhina precious time during a defeat in the fourth round of the contest that left her trailing 32-16, although she recovered in the fifth to reduce the deficit to just four points.
“The Polish athlete has removed her flag as well, they are both playing without flags now,” Russian Draughts Federation head Anatoly Nikitin told Lenta.
“I think the matter is closed as the Polish side apologized after the incident.”
He added that the match should have been played a year ago, when no WADA sanctions had been introduced, and condemned the way the Russian symbols were removed.
“It shouldn’t have been done during the match and in front of cameras. They should have made an official statement and removed the flag before the match,” Nikitin explained.
Sadovskaya is chasing the title she won in 2016 and 2018, needing 22 more points from the remaining five rounds to seal victory with the score currently at 32-28.
Based in the Polish capital, she portrayed herself wearing a glamorous dress alongside Tansykkuzhina before the final started, adding: “Both still smiling.”
A fan of covershoot-style snaps while looking over draughts boards, Sadovskaya has described her ambition to be “the kind of woman that makes other women want to up their game”.
“Time flies so fast and intensely that I can’t keep up with adding photos from my new sessions,” she told her thousands of Instagram fans earlier this month, sharing a snap from a promotional shoot taken for the final.
This post originally appeared on RT Sport News