The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) must reinstate Russia as soon as possible to prevent the country’s athletes from stagnating, Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) chair Yelena Isinbayeva has said.
The Russian Athletics Federation was banned in November 2015 after an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) study exposed widespread state-sponsored doping and the IAAF confirmed last week that the ban will run into next year.
“I want to believe they will find a compromise soon. We have done everything they asked — we did it even before Rio 2016,” the Russian former pole vaulter told insidethegames.biz, a sports website focused on the Olympic Movement.
“I hope that we can compete internationally soon, otherwise we will have no chance to develop the sport in Russia, we lose visibility otherwise,” the double Olympic champion and world record holder added.
The suspension was upheld following an appeal earlier this year, ruling all but one Russian track and field athlete, long-jumper Darya Klishina, out of the Rio Olympics.
“We must find a solution as the worst thing has happened already — we missed the Olympic Games. Russia must be allowed back,” the 34-year-old Isinbayeva stressed. “A line needs to be drawn under the situation, otherwise it could go on for years.”
In the latest blow to the country, an independent WADA report said on Friday that more than 1,000 Russian competitors across more than 30 sports were involved in an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests.
Isinbayeva, who also won three World Championship golds and set 28 world records, also lashed out at IAAF President Sebastian Coe and called for any doping investigations to be expanded globally.
“How could IAAF consider athletes who have been suspended twice for doping clean and allow them to compete while I was not?” Isinbayeva said in a separate interview with French sports daily L’Equipe, referring to American sprinter Justin Gatlin.
“When Coe asked my support at the beginning of his campaign to become IAAF president, I gave it to him without asking questions. Then he put me on the list with everyone else. He did not take into consideration who I am, my history, the absence of doubts (on my performances)... Sebastian Coe has had no respect for me and it hurt me.
“Yes, Russia is poisoned by doping... but to focus the investigations on one country is a political act. I hope that Mr McLaren’s investigation will be extended worldwide.”
As well as her role with RUSADA, Isinbayeva was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes’ Commission during Rio 2016 and has also been appointed to the Executive Board of the Russian Olympic Committee.
She also said the McLaren report had failed to deliver proof to back up its findings including the names of violators, the drugs used and other details. “They talk about proof but we have not seen any,” said the former three-times world champion.
What she said dismayed her most was the condemnation of all athletes rather than the search to identify and punish the cheats. “I am against the cheats but I don’t like generalisations. How can I agree there is institutional doping (affecting everybody) when I have never been part of it?”
Isinbayeva is still furious at being barred for the Rio Games as part of a collective sanction taken by the IAAF in response to the first part of the McLaren report published in July which revealed state-sponsored doping. “Of course I agree that our cheats should be banned. They cheated, let them pay the price. But what upsets me is the collective ban that solves nothing.”
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