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Freestyle skiing world champion detained, fined, campaigners say

Aliaksandra Ramanouskaya

PARK CITY, USA - FEBRUARY 2: Aliaksandra Ramanouskaya of Belarus wins the gold medal during the FIS World Freestyle Ski Championships Men’s and Women’s Ski Cross on February 2, 2019 in Park City, USA. (Photo by Laurent Salino/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

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KYIV, Ukraine — Freestyle skiing world champion Aliaksandra Ramanouskaya has been fined by a court in Belarus after being detained by authorities, the opposition campaign group Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation said Thursday.

The BSSF said Ramanouskaya, the 2019 World champion in women’s aerials, was detained Wednesday after a training session. She appeared in court Thursday and was fined about $1,000 for breaking Belarusian law on protests and public gatherings, the organization said.

It was not immediately clear which gathering the verdict related to.

The International Olympic Committee said in a statement it had seen the media reports about Ramanouskaya.

“We are looking into the situation and have asked the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus for information,” the IOC said.

Authoritarian president Aleksander Lukashenko claimed a sixth term in August 2020 in an election widely viewed as rigged in his favor. It was followed by mass protests and a state crackdown on protestors. Ramanouskaya was among the many athletes who signed an open letter calling for the election to be re-run and for political prisoners to be released.

As a former world champion, Ramanouskaya would normally be considered a medal contender for the upcoming Beijing Olympics, but International Ski Federation records show she hasn’t competed since February 2020. She was dropped from the Belarus national team last year after the protests began.

At this year’s Tokyo Olympics, there was a diplomatic incident when the Belarus team tried to send home sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who had criticized team officials for demanding she run an unfamiliar event.

Tsimanouskaya sought help at the airport because she feared for her safety if she returned to Minsk. Within days, she and her husband got humanitarian visas for Poland.

The International Olympic Committee launched an investigation into Tsimanouskaya’s treatment and in September handed the case over to the Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles disciplinary cases in track and field.

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