MOSCOU, Russia, June 16 – World athletics governing body IAAF meets Friday to decide if Russia, suspended in November over a report on state-sponsored doping, will be allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics.
If the IAAF rules to uphold Russia’s suspension, some key track and field stars will miss the Games.
– Isinbayeva, the pole vault tsarina –
The grande dame of Russian athletics, star pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva has her sights set on ending her stellar career with a third Olympic gold medal at her fourth and final games in Rio.
The pole vault tsarina, the first woman to clear the 5-metre bar, has not been implicated in the doping scandals that have engulfed many of her teammates.
Isinbayeva, 34, has furiously lobbied against Russia’s suspension, pleading in a letter to IAAF for clean Russian athletes not to be punished for the cheating of others and complaining that only Russia was being sanctioned for an international problem.
“Athletes from another country whose doping tests are negative have the right to compete at the Olympics,” Isinbayeva told reporters last month.
“But I am not allowed even though I am in the same situation. This is discrimination.”
– Chicherova, the high jump veteran –
Anna Chicherova, 33, is the defending high jump Olympic champion, having won gold at the London Games after clearing 2.05 metres on her second attempt.
The two-time Olympic medallist admitted last month that one of her samples from the 2008 Beijing Games — where she won bronze — showed traces of a banned substance.
“For me it’s the most complete shock,” Chicherova told AFP about her positive doping test, vowing to clear her name. “I can’t explain how it could have happened.”
Russia’s Olympic Committee (ROC) said that 14 Russian athletes had failed doping tests during the re-testing of samples from the Beijing Games.
Chicherova told AFP she had turned to a lawyer who would defend her interests until the B-sample results come through.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said last month that new samples taken during the 2012 London Games have returned positive for eight Russian athletes.
Chicherova told TASS news agency earlier this month that her B-sample from the London Games had turned out of be negative.
– Shubenkov, the Siberian sensation –
The Rio Games could offer redemption for 25-year-old world champion hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, who was eliminated in the semi-finals of his first Olympics last time round in London.
“Nothing worked out for me in London,” Shubenkov told AFP. “Things should be different now.”
Shubenkov, who clocked 12.98 seconds to win gold in the 110m hurdles at the 2015 World Championships, trains at a run-down facility in his Siberian hometown of Barnaul even though he has been offered to relocate to Los Angeles.
The exclusion of Russian athletes from Rio would see Shubenkov become the second member of his family to miss the chance of Olympic glory.
His mother, Soviet heptathlete Natalya Shubenkova, was sidelined from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics after the Soviet Union and its Communist allies boycotted the Games — a tit-for-tat move for the West’s snub of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
– Kuchina, the future of Russian athletics –
High jumper Mariya Kuchina, 23, has an impressive medal collection — golds from the 2015 World Championships and the 2014 World Indoor Championships, and a silver from the 2014 European championships — but has yet to compete in an Olympic Games.
At the 2015 World Championships Kuchina defeated her more senior competitors, including Anna Chicherova, who walked away with a bronze medal.
Kuchina is viewed as a leader in Russia’s new generation of elite athletes, which the Russian government has promised to educate about the harms of doping in a bid to be reinstated in time for the Rio Olympics.
“We are very upset and want back in,” Kuchina told AFP at a track and field meet earlier this month. “We are waiting and hoping that we will be allowed to compete on the international stage, that we will compete at the Olympics.”