One of Russia’s leading volleyball coaches faces a ban of up to two years for using a racist slur to describe an opposition player during the national championship series.

Coach Andrei Voronkov used the slur while giving instructions to one of his players during a timeout in the fifth and final game of the Russian women’s national championship series last week, in comments which were audible on the Russian TV broadcast. Voronkov was widely understood to be referring to Cuban opposition player Ailama Cesé Montalvo, who is Black.

The Russian Volleyball Federation disciplinary commission ruled Thursday that Voronkov was “guilty of a disciplinary breach” and recommended a ban of up to two years. That now has to be approved by the federation’s ruling executive committee.

The commission noted that Voronkov and his club Lokomotiv Kaliningrad, which won the championship series, had refused to apologize to Cesé.

“I know who I am, I like my color and I am proud to have it on my skin. I am not ashamed of it,” Cesé wrote in an Instagram post last week. She added of Voronkov that “I am not impacted in any way by the words he said against me because this is a problem he has as a person who cannot control an insatiable ego, for him to achieve a result he needs to insult someone and that only shows how little value he has and his lack of professional ethics.”

Voronkov has not commented publicly on the ruling.


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