World champ Isinbayeva & other Russian athletes barred from Olympic Games

Yelena Isinbayeva. © Sergei Karpukhin
The IAAF has rejected all applications from Russian track and field athletes to compete in this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Russian Olympic Committee has said, with the exception of long jumper Darya Klishina.

The decision made by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) means that athletes such as the pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva won’t be allowed to compete when the games get underway in Brazil in August, her trainer Evgeny Trofimov told R-Sport.

“Everyone received a refusal, including Yelena. As a result of this refusal, we will file a lawsuit to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in order to defend the rights of the sportsmen and women. They knew that if there were refusals that we would file lawsuits and our lawyers are ready to do this,” Trofimov said.

Isinbayeva, who has been outspoken at the stance taken by the IAAF, once again hit out at the organization. 

“The fact that they threw this out shows their weakness and their helplessness,” Isinbayeva told TASS, referring to the IAAF. “The presumption of innocence before guilt does not exist and they cannot show who is clean in Russia and who isn’t. They just show their ineffectiveness.”

The 34 year old from Volgograd is widely seen as the greatest ever female pole-vaulter. She has won two Olympic golds in 2004 and 2008. Isinbayeva only returned to the sport after giving birth to a daughter and many believed the Rio Olympics would be her swansong before hanging up her spikes. 

However, it looks increasingly likely that Isinbayeva, who has never tested positive for any banned substances, will be denied the chance to compete in Rio and try and claim a hat-trick of Olympic gold’s following the IAAF’s decision. 

Yelena Isinbayeva. © Grigory Dukor

“I would disband the whole federation and would change those running the organization yet again. They are ineffective and are breaking up world athletics. Everyone understands clearly that without the Russians at the Games, only half the TV audience is going to watch the Olympics and this is bad for the sponsors. It’s also bad for the public who want to watch us compete,” Isinbayeva added.

The only athlete who has been given the green light to compete is Klishina who will be able to take part as a neutral athlete. The 25-year-old long jumper, who is based in the US, meets the "exceptional eligibility criteria," according to the IAAF.

The IAAF said the board "unanimously accepted the application of [Darya] Klishina who, subject to completing the formalities, is now eligible to compete in international competitions as an independent neutral athlete."

Isinbayeva was one of 68 athletes who were included in Russia’s track and field team for the Rio Olympics on Tuesday by the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF).

On July 2, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and the 68 athletes filed appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the IAAF ban and asked to be allowed to take part in international competition in time for the Olympics.

The three parties agreed an expedited procedure, with a final decision due by July 21, CAS has said.

The IAAF upheld a decision on June 17, which was later backed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to ban Russian athletes from competing at the games as it believes Russia is guilty of systematic doping in the sport.

Rune Andersen, who heads the IAAF task force overseeing Russia's attempts to reform, said that a "deep-seated culture of tolerance, or worse, appears not to be materially changed".

"No athlete will compete in Rio under a Russian flag," he said.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the ban “unjust” and believes a “solution” can be found to the conflict, stressing that Russia will continue to fight doping. On July 1, Putin announced that Russian law enforcers would have more power when investigating doping cases.

"The responsibility [for doping abuse] must be tightened," Putin said, as cited by TASS.

"We’ve made a decision to support amendments to tighten legislation: to enhance responsibility and to adopt legislation allowing the use of detective and policing methods to let our law enforcers use investigative methods to expose the use and proliferation of doping substances."

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