Russian athletes propose 'Katyusha' folk song to replace anthem - reports

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian athletes on Thursday proposed playing patriotic folk song 'Katyusha' at international sporting events for the next two years, while Russia's national anthem is banned over doping violations, news agencies reported.

'Katyusha' is a song that gained huge popularity during World War Two and, according to some accounts, inspired the name of the Soviet Union's Katyusha rocket launchers.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is based in Switzerland, last month upheld a ruling which barred Russian athletes from competing at major international events, including the Olympics, under the country's flag until 2022.

It was a severe blow to Russian sport which has been tarnished in recent years by a string of doping scandals.

On Thursday, sport's highest court CAS published a 186-page document providing further detail for its decision.

The ruling, which halved Russia's original four-year ban, will leave Russian athletes without their flag and national anthem at this year's Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and at the 2022 soccer World Cup in Qatar.

The Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) athletes' commission proposed 'Katyusha' as an alternative to the national anthem.

"There were many options for the musical accompaniment, even some modern ones," Olympic fencer Sofya Velikaya, who chairs the athletes commission was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

"But we settled on 'Katyusha' by a large number of votes."

It was not immediately clear whether the playing of 'Katyusha' would be permitted.

In its December ruling CAS said: "The Russian national anthem (or any anthem linked to Russia) shall not be officially played or sung at any official event venue."

It said this included opening, closing and medal ceremonies.

A 2015 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency found evidence of mass doping among Russia's track and field athletes.

Russia, which has in the past acknowledged some shortcomings in its implementation of anti-doping policies, denies running a state-sponsored doping programme.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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