Russian doping scandal

Ban 'unfair' to non-dopers, lament top athletes

Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva could miss the Rio Olympics if the provisional ban on Russia is not lifted.
Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva could miss the Rio Olympics if the provisional ban on Russia is not lifted.

MOSCOW • Russian track and field stars, including renowned pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, have denounced as "completely unfair" the decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to provisionally suspend Russia.

"Why do people like me have to suffer from the mistakes of irresponsible athletes?" three-time Olympic medallist Isinbayeva told a news conference on Monday.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) independent commission last week published a damning report that alleged state-sponsored doping and large-scale corruption in Russian athletics. It recommended that the country's track and field athletes be barred from international competition.

The IAAF on Friday handed the Russian athletics federation a provisional suspension, sparking indignation among the country's brightest track and field stars.

Isinbayeva, 33, for whom the upcoming Rio Olympics would be her fifth and last Games, wrote on Saturday on Instagram she was "shocked" by the decision, after having implored the world athletics governing body for leniency.

Russian sporting officials have announced a three-month plan to revamp athletics in time for track and field stars to participate in the Rio de Janeiro Games in August 2016. But former Wada head Dick Pound - who served as the head of the independent commission - said Russia's participation in Rio would depend on its ability to promptly clean up its act.

"Pound said it was a shame that I was a victim of the system," Isinbayeva said. "But I am not a victim of the system. I am outside it."

World champion hurdler Sergey Shubenkov - the 25-year-old son of heptathlete Natalya Shubenkova - deplored the fact that he could relive his mother's exclusion from the 1984 Los Angeles Games, which the Soviet Union boycotted.

"What have I done?" asked the two-time European champion, who clocked a national record of 12.98 seconds to take gold at the world championships in Beijing back in August.

"What can I do now, or what could I have done, for this decision not to have been made?"

The IAAF Athletes' Commission said on Friday it was sending "a clear message" to honest athletes who witnessed or heard of "any doping or cheating" among their peers to report it, a call Shubenkov equated to tattling.

"The situation resembles kindergarten," he said.

"If the culprit doesn't admit to his wrongdoings, then we are going to punish everyone."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Ban 'unfair' to non-dopers, lament top athletes Russian doping scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe