KEIR RADNEDGE in RIO DE JANEIRO: Yelena Isinbayeva, a furious critic of the exclusion of Russian track and field athletes from Rio 2016, has been elected to the athletes’ commission of the International Olympic Committee.
Isinbayeva, the 2012 Olympic pole vault champion, had protested in vain to the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the ban instituted by accepted by the IOC after having been imposed on Russian by world athletics’ governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Russia was suspended membership of the IAAF – as it has been from the International Paralympic Committee – because of the allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-up system contained in two reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Also elected to the athletes’ commission were Britta Heidemann (Germany, fencing), Seug-min Ryu (South Korea, table tennis) and Daniel Gyurta (Hungary, swimming).
Heidemann was elected with 1,603 votes, followed by Ryu with 1,544, Gyurta with 1,469 votes and Isinbayeva with 1,365. A total of 5,185 athletes voted and the four will serve for eight years.
They replace retiring Claudia Bokel, Dae Sung Moon, Alexander Popov and Yumilka Ruiz Luaces, who had all been were elected at the Beijing Games in 2008. New chair of the commission is American Angela Ruggiero, former ice hockey champion.
IOC president Thomas Bach said: “The athletes are at the heart of the Olympic Games. Their voice is very important in the IOC. My congratulations go to the newly elected members of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. We are looking forward to working closely with them to further advance the Olympic Movement.”
Heidemann, Ryu, Gyurta and Isinbayeva will be proposed to the IOC Session for IOC membership. Pending approval, they will then be officially introduced at the Rio Ganes’ Closing Ceremony on Sunday.
Some 11,245 athletes were eligible to vote, and had 23 candidates from the same number of countries to choose from. Votes needed to be cast for four different athletes from four different sports. Eligibility depended on the candidates having competed at either London 2012 or Rio 2016.