ROC Olympic Star Wants Journalist Removed for Question on Russia's Doping Scandal

Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev asked for a journalist to be barred from interviewing players at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after being asked whether the reputation of Russian athletes had been damaged by the doping scandal that engulfed the country.

The incident unfolded in the press conference that followed Medvedev's three-set win over Italy's Fabio Fognini on Wednesday, when the Russian athlete took exception to the final question he was asked in English.

According to The Guardian, a reporter whose first language wasn't English quizzed Medvedev on whether he felt Russian athletes were being perceived "carrying a stigma of cheaters" in Tokyo.

"Are the Russian Olympic team athletes carrying a stigma of cheaters in these Games after the scandal and how do you feel about it?" the reporter asked.

Medvedev initially appeared to misunderstand the question, before telling the journalist he "should be embarrassed" after realizing what he had been asked.

"That's the first time in my life I'm not gonna answer a question, man," the Russian fired back.

"And you should be embarrassed of yourself."

Clearly incensed by the question, Medvedev then asked the press officer who sat next to him to remove the reporter.

"I think you should [remove] him from either the Olympic Games, either the tennis tournament. I don't wanna see him again in my interviews. Thanks," he said.

The journalist's attempt to explain his question was futile as Medvedev, the 2019 U.S. Open finalist and the 2021 Australian Open finalist, abruptly walked away.

"That's the first time in my life," he repeated. "So you should be embarrassed."

Medvedev, like all the other Russian athlete in Tokyo, is competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Russian athletes can't represent their own country, which has been banned from major sporting events since 2019.

Russia was initially declared non-compliant with the world anti-doping regulations in November 2015, before a full-scale state-sponsored doping program that spanned across "the vast majority" of summer and winter Olympic sports was unveiled by a special investigation the following year.

In 2019, the country was handed a four-year ban, which was subsequently halved on appeal and will expire on December 16, 2022.

Russian athletes who can prove they weren't linked with the state-sponsored doping scandal and that they have remained clean have been granted permission to compete at the Games under the Russian Olympic Committee flag.

The same provision applied at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, when 168 Russian athletes were allowed to compete as neutrals under the special IOC designation of "Olympic Athletes from Russia."

Medvedev had made headlines on Wednesday even prior to the press conference, when he complained of the oppressing heat at Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo, where temperatures soared to 31C (87.8F) with 72 percent humidity.

"I can finish the match, but I can die—if I die, who will take responsibility?" the Russian athlete sarcastically replied to the umpire after being asked if he was OK to carry on playing.

Following his 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Fognini, Medvedev will play Spain's Pablo Carreño Busta, the No. 6 seed, in the quarterfinals.

Daniil Medvedev at the Olympics
Daniil Medvedev of Team ROC celebrates after match point during his Men's singles third round match against Fabio Fognini of Team Italy on day 5 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 28 in Tokyo, Japan. David Ramos/Getty Images