Russian stars slam ‘unfair’ suspension
MOSCOW: Russian track and field stars including pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva yesterday denounced as “completely unfair” the decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decision to provisionally suspend Russia.
“Why do people like me have to suffer from the mistakes of irresponsible athletes?” three-time Olympic medallist Isinbayeva told reporters. A World AntiDoping Agency (WADA) independent commission last week published a damning report that alleged Russian athletics were plagued with state-sponsored doping and large-scale corruption, and recommended that track and field athletes be barred from international competition. The IAAF on Friday handed the Russian athletics federation a provisional suspension, sparking indignation among the country’s brightest track and field stars.
Isinbayeva, 33, for whom the upcoming Rio Olympics would be her fifth and a finish of her career, wrote Saturday on Instagram she was “shocked” by the decision, after having implored world athletis’ governing body for leniency. Russian sporting officials have announced a three-month plan to revamp athletics in time for track and field stars to participate in the Rio de Janeiro Games in August 2016. Former WADA head Dick Poundwho served as the head of the independent commission-said that Russia’s participation in Rio would depend on its ability to promptly clean up its act. “Pound said it was a shame that I was a victim of the system,” Isinbayeva said. “But I am not a victim of the system. I am outside it.” Isinbayeva’s coach, Yevgeny Trofimov, told Russian press on Saturday that the four-time Olympian could ponder competing as an independent athlete under the Olympic flag, a prospect the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach dismissed as “speculation.”
“There are discussions going on about this in sporting circles,” Isinbayeva said of the prospect of Russian track and field athletes competing as independents in Rio. “But I don’t know whether this is even possible.” World champion hurdler Sergei Shubenkov-the 25-year-old son of prominent Soviet heptathlete Natalya Shubenkova-deplored he could relive his mother’s exclusion of the 1984 Los Angeles Games, which the Soviet Union boycotted.
“What have I done?” asked Shubenkov, the two-time European champion who clocked a national record of 12.98 to take gold at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August. — AFP
MOSCOW: Russia’s high jump athlete Anna Chicherova answers journalists’ questions during a press conference in Moscow yesterday following Russia’s provisional suspension from athletics by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).