MOSCOW: Yelena Isinbayeva has complained, in a domestic television interview, that she and other ‘clean’ Russian athletes are being treated unfairly by the international sports authorities over a potential ban from the Rio Olympics in August.
The pole vaulter, a multiple world and Olympic champion, said she was angry that athletes from other suspect countries were being given an effective free ride to the Games when she other team-mates were still out in the cold despite their personal innocence.
The governing council of the International Association of Athletics Federations will decide on June 17 whether Russia has done enough to change systems and culture to have earned the right to compete in the track and field competition in Rio.
Russia has been barred since media exposes and a damning independent report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency into allegations of a state-sponsored cover-up of dope cheats. German investigatrive journalist and the ARD TV channel has promised further revelations next month.
Isinbayeva said she thought WADA had turned a blind eye to systematic doping by foreign athletes while insisting all Russia’s athletes were being punished for the inappropriate behaviour of certain individual athletes and officials.
All this had come against the background of a complex geopolitical context.
Isinbayeva said: “I have been on the world stage for 20 years, I have competed at four Olympics and set 30 world records. None of the world records was set in Russia, even though I really wanted that.
“But this should be a positive: I was competing and tested around the world, the samples were always negative so nobody should have the right to forbid me to compete wherever I want.
“I’m not responsible for other people’s actions. I did not break the rules. I have always acted honestly, and I will speak honestly. I will not let anyone deprive me of those rights that I deserve.”
Isinbayeva added: “We know that in other countries, such as the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Kenya, there have been disqualified athletes. They quietly sit out a two year ban, not stopping training and then come back and win and set records.
“We know that there is a systematic doping. But Russia was not offered the option of consideration . . . we were judged under incomprehensible, unjust rules.
“I do not understand why everyone is now looking in one direction – at Russia. The global problem of doping exists, but we’re not the only country with this problem. If they want to deal with the problem of doping in world sport, that’s understandable.
“But they should open their eyes and look in other directions too . . . Somehow, a blind eye is turned on the situation in other countries.”