Olympics: Yelena Isinbayeva quits with Sebastian Coe broadside

Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Russian Yelena Isinbayeva speaks during a press conference on Aug 19, 2016.
Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Russian Yelena Isinbayeva speaks during a press conference on Aug 19, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva announced her retirement on Friday with a bitter broadside at international athletics chief Sebastian Coe over the Olympic ban imposed on Russian athletes for state-sponsored doping.

"Yelena Isinbayeva is finishing her career today," the 34-year-old told reporters a day after being elected onto the International Olympic Committee's athletes commission.

"I thought I would be very sad but the election has inspired me. I am not saying goodbye to sport, just to my sport.

"But I am happy I have fulfilled myself and achieved my dreams," added the world record holder.

Isinbayeva was unable to defend her title in Rio after the Russian squad was banned by the International Association of

Athletics Federations (IAAF) over a state-sponsored doping scandal which rocked track and field. Had Isinbayeva not been excluded with the Russian team from taking part in Rio, she would have been lining up for the pole vault final in the Olympic Stadium later Friday.

"Why am I here and not preparing for the final? Because the IAAF set criteria that were impossible to meet," she said. "How can one person ban someone from training and living in their own country?

"These are impossible odds; we could not fulfil these criteria. These are criteria that should apply to everyone."

Isinbayeva said she has undergone five dope tests in six months, all conducted by foreign testers.

"My victories are all clean, all my tests have been negative. I am a victim of circumstances. At first I thought I would never forgive them for banning me.

"Now I have changed my mind. If the president of the IAAF believes that they did an honest thing and that we were treated fairly, then let god be the judge. It will be on their conscience."

"I am proof that clean sport exists in Russia. It's nonsense to ban everyone because a few have doped," added Isinbayeva who blasted the damning McLaren report into Russian doping as being "based on assumptions".

Isinbayeva was one of four new members elected onto the IOC athletes commission on Thursday and will serve an eight-year term.

She is also on the equivalent body at the IAAF and claims that Coe, the president, has no contact with her.

"I forgive the president and the executive board for the injustice," she said. "But only one member of the IAAF congratulated me, I was offended by this."

She added: "The president (Coe) doesn't talk to me and avoids all meetings with me. If I had the chance to talk to him, I'd ask why did he ban me."