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1 Aug, 2021 13:32

Belarusian beauty who ‘criticized bosses over doping tests’ taken to airport but escapes being flown home from Olympics – reports

Belarusian beauty who ‘criticized bosses over doping tests’ taken to airport but escapes being flown home from Olympics – reports

A Belarusian athlete who reportedly criticized her country's Olympic officials over a lack of doping tests and a decision to move her into a relay race is said to be seeking asylum after being forced to the airport to return home.

Runner Kristina Timanovskaya is said to have voiced her dissatisfaction at being added to the 4 x 400m relay team after she reportedly claimed that three Belarusian athletes, named as Maria Zhodik, Anna Mikhailova and Kristina Mulyarchik, were unable to fly to Tokyo to compete because there were not enough doping tests available.

The Games debutant was subsequently taken to the airport by two officials to be flown back to Belarus in a state of fear, according to a heavily-followed Minsk reporter and numerous other accounts.

“It turns out that I have just learned the news that I will also run a third event at this Olympics – the relay race 4 x 400 meters," the 200m specialist was quoted as saying.

"It turns out that our 'very cool bosses' decided everything, as usual, for us. They messed up with the girls who do not have enough tests to fly to their first Olympics in their life... cool, guys. Well done."

Writing on Twitter on Sunday morning Belarusian time, journalist Hanna Liubakova said: "Apparently, representatives of the Belarusian national team took her to the airport. It looks like kidnapping.

"Tsimanovskaya was accompanied to the airport by two members of the Belarusian sports delegation. She is now with the police and volunteers. When asked if she was afraid to fly to Belarus, Tsimanouskaya answered, 'yes'."

Several readers, who also saw footage from the airport purportedly taken by Tsimanovskaya, expressed concerns about the reported move, calling on Olympic organizers to look into what some outlets described as a "national scandal" and even asking Turkish Airlines, who were said to be making the flight that would return Tsimanovskaya, not to transport her.

Timanovskaya did not board the flight, which left for Istanbul, and remained under the protection of local police in Tokyo, according to Mash.

Politician and diplomat Pavel Latushka claimed that Tsimanovskaya was being "forcibly taken to Belarus for expressing an opinion about the Belarusian administration."

"The team of the National Anti-Crisis Management is already in contact with the Polish Foreign Ministry and has contacted the Austrian Foreign Ministry to assist the diplomatic services of these countries to Kristina Timanovskaya in obtaining international protection," he said.

"Representatives of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee are at the airport, who are trying to return Kristina to the Olympic Village."

A report from Belarus appeared to show Tsimanovskaya talking and reported that the Olympic Committee of Belarus had decided to end her campaign "due to her emotional and psychological state", which the athlete was said to have labeled a "lie" on Instagram while planning to seek asylum from the Austrian embassy.

Timanovskaya was quoted by Baza to have asked the International Olympic Committee for help, reportedly saying: "They are trying to take me out of the country without my consent."

Timanovskaya earlier said about her scheduled race on Monday: "Nobody will take my dream away from me. Sport is forever in my heart. Even if this is my last time on the track, I want to get the most out of it."

Attempting to address the issue on Saturday, the self-described 'athlete with the soul of a coach' said she had received "huge support" and a "small" level of negativity.

"The Olympics are a very important start in the life of every athlete and all the participants are here for a reason... getting to the top," she said.

"Each of us prepares in our own way and puts all of our efforts into preparation, which is aimed only at running, jumping or throwing at our distance, in our way.

"Perhaps the most important thing for today is my emotional statement that I was included in the list of participants in the 4 x 400 relay. I want to clarify my position, since none of the head coaches have yet tried to find out about my condition.

"I would never in my life begin to react so harshly if they would come up to me in advance, explain the whole situation and find out if I can run 400 meters and if I am ready.

"But they decided to do everything behind my back, despite the fact that I tried to find out this information and was ignored.

"Believe me, even though I have never run 400 meters, I would be ready to support the team and the girls and go on the same track with them. But I believe that higher people should have respect for us as athletes and sometimes reckon with our opinion.

"I insanely respect the work of girls and sincerely worry about them. I would not want someone else to be in such a situation, and it seems to me, after everything that has happened, they will be very careful about this.

"But I repeat, if such a situation has developed and I would be approached humanly, I would do my best to try myself at a new distance, albeit at the Olympic Games.

"Who knows – [maybe] it would have been no worse than my favorite [discipline, the] 200m?"

Writing before her reported initial post about her disgruntlement, Timanovskaya told her fans: "Glad to be here in Tokyo after everything I've gone through in the last year and a half.

"I can now draw one conclusion: that sometimes we also have to bear all the responsibility for our preparation on our own. Only here and only now, everything is in our hands.

"To be here, to be a part of the Olympic movement, to be a participant in the Olympiad is all the merit of everyone personally.

"This Olympiad is special. It seems to me that even before it began, it broke many: leaders and champions did not make it here due to injuries, some lost their nerves and some were broken by Covid.

"For five years, athletes have been waiting for their Olympics. For many, as well as for me, these are the first Olympic Games that will leave a mark in our memory.

"I am sure that many of us will have a happy future. But since we are here, we need to surrender to the moment and give our best."

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