Russian high jump queen questions ‘hypocritical’ Olympic boss
Tokyo 2020 high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene has accused International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach of hypocrisy, questioning why he is not defending the rights of athletes from all countries as sweeping bans remain in place on Russian and Belarusian competitors.
Lasitskene, 29, issued an open letter last month in which she accused Bach of lacking “the courage and dignity” to lift the suspensions imposed on Russians following an IOC recommendation at the end of February.
Bach has claimed that the IOC was forced to act because Russia supposedly breached the ‘Olympic Truce’ by launching its military operation in Ukraine.
The IOC chief has also claimed that bans partly protect Russian and Belarusian athletes from the aggression they would supposedly face outside the country.
But Olympic gold medalist Lasitskene again questioned that position in an interview with Match TV aired this week.
“Bach’s comments are a little bit hypocritical, they are wrong about what is happening. He says one thing, but in the end, Russians don’t compete in international competitions,” said the three-time world champion.
“This is a person who should protect the Olympic movement and protect athletes from all countries, but this doesn’t happen.”
An emotional Lasitskene said it was a “difficult topic” to discuss, arguing that “sport should unite and inspire love, but it’s become very difficult, much more difficult than it was.”
“I understand all sides, I’m a loving person, I can forgive everyone and anything… I can accept something, but no one accepts our position,” said the high jump star.
Like scores of her compatriots, Lasitskene finds herself sidelined from all international competitions after World Athletics announced a blanket ban on Russian athletes, barring them from appearing even under neutral status.
Despite the difficulties, Lasitskene indicated she was still hoping to defend her Olympic title at the Paris Games in 2024.
“At the moment, I want to compete, to show results, and continue to fight,” said the star.
After releasing her scathing criticism of Bach in June, Lasitskene revealed afterwards that the Olympic chief had not taken the time to give her a response.
Meanwhile, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) issued a sternly worded attack on the IOC on Monday for what it perceives to be the continued interference of Western politics and “anti-Russian hysteria” in sport.
The message came after Bach visited Kiev on Sunday, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and offering continued support from the IOC.