Dubai: Today [July 1] is a major deadline before the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) in protecting the fate of their ‘clean’ athletes.
The world governing body for athletics has to decide whether RusAF will have to pay at least half of a $10 million (Dhs 36.5 million) fine imposed on Russia to ensure participation of it’s clean athletes in international events. Russia’s two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has addressed an open letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Athletics just before the deadline for the payment.
Signed by her and other clean athletes, Isinbayeva’s letter has been released via Instagram in an attempt to see if the clean athletes from Russia can be protected in some way.
In the letter addressed to WA President Sebastian Coe, IOC President Thomas Bach and Association of National Olympic Committees Acting President, Robin Mitchell, Isinbayeva has claimed that the suspension would be a “gross violation of the sporting principle and the rights of pure athletes”.
Depriving us of the opportunity to perform at international competitions is an unacceptable and excessive punishment, applying the principle of collective responsibility, forcing us to bear responsibility for the misdeeds of third parties
“In our opinion, the punishment should be borne by the Federation, not by the athletes,” Isinbayeva wrote.
“Depriving us of the opportunity to perform at international competitions is an unacceptable and excessive punishment, applying the principle of collective responsibility, forcing us to bear responsibility for the misdeeds of third parties. We ask you to support us and help to protect the rights and interests of Russian athletes in their desire to compete honestly and openly, strengthening the position of pure sport,” she has pleaded.
Isinbayeva’s letter comes after a number of other Russian athletes also wrote to the country’s President Vladimir Putin, urging him to intervene in the dispute between WA and RusAF. The athletes have continually warned Putin that Russian athletics is “on the verge of disaster” due to July 1 deadline for RusAF to pay half the fine.
Should payment not be made, the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process which allows certain Russian athletes to compete under a neutral banner will also be suspended.
It may be recalled that WA had imposed an ANA cap of 10 athletes for major events, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, on Russia when it resumed the process in March and announced the fine, which stems from an investigation concerning high jumper Danil Lysenko.
Seven RusAF officials, including then-President Dmitry Shlyakhtin, were charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) with obstructing an anti-doping investigation into Lysenko by forging documents to explain missed tests. The 23-year-old Lysenko now faces a ban of up to eight years.
RusAF has been suspended by WA since November 2015 following revelations of state-sponsored doping. The Lysenko affair plunged the organisation into further trouble and contributed to the AIU Board stating in a report earlier this year that the World Athletics Council should consider expelling RusAF.
Isinbayeva, an IOC Athletes’ Commission member, won Olympic gold at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 along with a bronze at London 2012. However, she missed out on competing for a third Olympic title at Rio 2016 due to Russia’s suspension.