Many Russian athletes are faced with a significant dilemma following retirement: what comes next? For some, the natural progression is a coaching position that allows the athlete to impart priceless knowledge from past experience. For many, the alternative is politics.
The latest example of this political progression is Artur Taymazov, renowned as Uzbekistan’s most decorated Olympian. The Ossetian-Uzbek-Russian freestyle wrestler is a four-time medalist at the Olympic Games (three gold, one silver) who retired following the London 2012 Games. Taymazov is widely considered the greatest heavyweight freestyle wrestler of all time. However, the International Olympic Committee later announced that Taymazov would be stripped of his 2008 medal after a doping sample retest turned up positive.
Following a short stint away form the spotlight, Taymazov successfully campaigned for, and was elected to, the 7th State Duma of the Russian Federation with the controlling ‘United Russia’ party. Taymazov won the election to represent the republic of North Ossetia in the State Duma with a resounding 82.7% of the vote. His main competitors, Murat Agouzarov and Arsen Fadzayev (fellow Olympic champ from the Soviet era), withdrew their candidacy ahead of the vote citing violations in the regulatory procedures.
Over the years, many Russian athletes have transitioned to politics following successful careers. Two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin was elected in the State Duma in 2011. The retired Russian tennis player, who smashed over 1000 racquets during matchplay in 2011, also supported parliament’s proposed law that banned the adoption of Russian orphans by US citizens. Two-time Olympic champion gymnast Svetlana Khorkina went on to become a deputy in the State Duma. Four-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko joined the political party A Just Russia and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg in 2007. He gained notoriety for his poor attendance record since his election and eventually decided to quit politics a few years later.