Russian fury as Olympic athletics ban upheld

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva has called the International Association of Athletics Federations’ decision to maintain Russia’s athletics ban ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games a “violation of human rights” and said she plans to appeal.

Russia’s athletics team remains banned from global competition after the sport’s governing body voted unanimously against lifting the suspension, which was imposed for systemic doping.

Despite desperate Russian attempts to have the ban lifted before the Rio Olympics in August, the IAAF’s 27-strong council decided Russia had not met the criteria for reinstatement.

Isinbayeva, who won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008, believes Russian athletes have been treated unfairly and the 34-year-old says she will appeal to the court of human rights.

She said: “I’m disappointed and angry. I am offended, first on my personal behalf and on behalf of the team of clean athletes who are no longer in action.

“Nobody defended us. Nobody fought for our rights and there are huge concerns over IAAF itself and its stance on defending the rights of clean athletes. We are blamed for something we have not done.

“This is a violation of human rights. I will not be silent. I will take measures. I will appeal to the court of human rights.”

The All-Russia Athletics Federation was banned in November following an 11-month investigation by an independent commission chaired by former World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound.

Russia will now take its case to an International Olympic Committee meeting in Lausanne on Tuesday, with the further possibility of challenges against an Olympic ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Yesterday’s IAAF meeting in Vienna overran by nearly an hour but the main discussion point was not whether or not to lift the ban: it was how a ban would be enforced.

When the IAAF suspended the Russian federation it set up a task force, led by Norwegian anti-doping expert Rune Andersen, to assess the progress made in Russia to clean up its act, with 44 different criteria.

Those criteria were clearly not met, as a damning WADA report confirmed on Wednesday. That update painted a picture of a sports system that might take years, not seven months, to rebuild.

So in some ways, this was an easy decision for the council to take, particularly after its own contribution to the scandal and questions about IAAF president Seb Coe’s ability, and right, to lead the organisation.

Athletics Ireland welcomed the decision to uphold the suspension. Chief executive John Foley said yesterday: “Given the scale of infringements committed in recent years, we believe the decision is appropriate and the Olympic Games in Rio is just too early for Russia to return to competition.

“In our view it’s a positive step for the sport along the journey to retrieving the reputation of athletics.”

Athletics Ireland President Georgina Drumm added: “Today’s decision is a step in ensuring that the credibility of the sport is being restored.

"In turn it helps the sport to return to its core values which in Ireland are driven on by close to 60,000 members of Athletics Ireland and the volunteers who support them.”



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