The IAAF on Sunday cleared only long jumper Darya Klishina to compete at the Rio Olympics, meaning the last remaining hope for pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva and other Russian athletes now rests on an impending court decision.
Athletics’ governing body, which has suspended the Russian track and field team over state-sponsored doping that has cast a dark shadow over next month’s Games, said it had given the go ahead for Klishina to take part in international competition.
“The IAAF Doping Review Board has today agreed that Russian long jump athlete Darya Klishina meets the exceptional eligibility criteria to compete in international competition as a neutral athlete,” the IAAF said in a statement.
“The Doping Review Board received a total of 136 applications from Russian athletes seeking exceptional eligibility to compete in an individual capacity,” added the statement, which quickly drew fresh condemnation in Moscow.
Klishina’s participation at Rio is still subject to acceptance by the International Olympic Committee, which is battling doping on multiple fronts ahead of the Games.
“Rejections have come for everyone, except for Klishina,” Alexandra Brilliantova, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee’s legal department, told state-run TASS news agency.
Among those rejected were gold medallist pole vaulter Isinbayeva and world champion hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, trainers for the two athletes — who are both based in Russia — confirmed.
Russia’s tainted athletics federation slammed the decision to reject all but Klishina.
“The federation is fighting for the rights of clean sportsmen and is waiting for the CAS decision,” it said in a statement.
Sixty-eight Russian track and field stars, including Isinbayeva and Shubenkov, still hoping to go to Rio now hope that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will overturn the blanket ban as a last resort.
CAS will make its decision by July 21, two weeks before the start of the Rio Games.
– ‘Beyond legal sphere’ –
Russia last month had its suspension over allegations of institutionalised and pervasive doping upheld by the IAAF, but it left the door ajar to some Russian competitors not tainted by doping to compete as neutrals in Rio.
In the light of the latest IAAF ruling, the sportsminister in Moscow, Vitaly Mutko, again called for the world body to be ripped up.
“In my opinion it was difficult to expect any other (ruling),” Mutko told TASS.
“This doesn’t surprise me personally, but it is upsetting. They have gone beyond the legal sphere. It is time to dissolve this organisation.”
The 25-year-old Klishina, a two-time European indoor champion, revealed her joy at the decision on Facebook, writing: “The news that I am allowed to participate in all international events and also 2016 Olympics in Rio came today late in the night.
“I am really happy,” she added, thanking the IAAF.
Last week, CAS spokeswoman Katy Hogg told AFP that the court will not be making a case-by-case review of each athlete’s record, but will be assessing the validity of the IAAF’s decision to ban the entire Russian federation.
Russian athletes and political leaders have voiced outrage that the IAAF was seeking to ban track and field stars with no positive drug tests on their record.
The IAAF doping review board has also given the greenlight to Russian doping-cheat-turned-whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova’s right to return to competition as a neutral.
The 30-year-old took part as a neutral at the European championship in Amsterdam, but tore a ligament in her foot and was later disqualified from her heat.
Stepanova and her husband Vitaly made the sensational revelations of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics, which was found to be linked to widespread corruption at the heart of the IAAF. – Agence France-Presse