Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic pole vault champion, has suffered another blow in her attempts to compete in Rio after athletics’ world governing body rejected all but one appeal from Russian athletes to line up as ‘neutrals’ in Brazil.
Long jumper Darya Klishina, who trains in Florida, was the only one of 136 Russian athletes to receive the green light to compete under a neutral flag thanks to a loophole implemented last month in the wake of the country’s continued exile from international competition for doping offenses.
That loophole only applied to athletes who live and train outside Russia and could therefore prove they are untainted by the country’s doping regime. Russian whistle-blower Yuliya Stepanova was last week also given clearance to compete as a neutral in Rio in recognition of her role in exposing state-sponsored doping in her home country.
Isinbayeva, who has also won three world titles, had her appeal rejected along with the overwhelming majority of her team-mates, although they could yet see their ban overturned after taking their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is expected to rule by July 21.
An outspoken critic of the stance taken by the International Association of Athletics Federations, Isinbayeva called on the entire organization to disband.
“The fact that they threw this out shows their weakness and their helplessness,” she said. “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.
“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.”
Klishina must still have her participation approved by the organizers of the Olympics.