Yelena Isinbayeva

Yelena Isinbayeva
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Yelena Isinbayeva to oversee Russia Anti-Doping Agency

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MOSCOW (AP) — Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has been chosen to chair the new supervisory board of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which is struggling to recover its reputation after repeated doping scandals.

The agency, known as RUSADA, said in a statement on Wednesday that Isinbayeva would head a 10-person board including sports executives, academics, and a Russian sports ministry official.

Isinbayeva was part of the Russian athletics team which was banned from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for widespread drug use, though she has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Isinbayeva’s appointment could cause tension with the World Anti-Doping Agency, which she has sharply criticized, saying its accusations against Russia are unproven, and calling for athlete-turned-whistleblower Yulia Stepanova to be banned for life.

Isinbayeva’s first task at Rusada will be to persuade WADA to restore the agency’s compliance status, allowing it to conduct testing again.

“The effectiveness with which that fight (against doping) will be carried out in Russia depends on when Rusada gets back its compliance,” Isinbayeva said in a statement. “That is what we see our main task to be, and we will put maximum effort into it.”

RUSADA was suspended in November 2015 after a WADA commission report accused its officials of colluding to cover up doping and giving athletes advance warning for supposedly no-notice tests. Since February, the United Kingdom anti-doping agency has handled testing in Russia.

Isinbayeva’s appointment comes as she is a candidate to head the All-Russia Athletics Federation, which remains suspended from international competition. It was not immediately clear whether she planned to withdraw from the federation elections on Friday.

MORE: Russia track and field ban to last into 2017

Russia Olympic Committee president to step down

Alexander Zhukov
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MOSCOW (AP) — Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, says he is ready to step down.

Zhukov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Tuesday that he wants to devote attention to his position as a deputy speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. He will remain as a member of the International Olympic Committee, he said, according to state news agency TASS.

Zhukov’s six-year tenure as head of the Russian committee has spanned the turbulent scandal over widespread doping that caused Russian track and field athletes to be banned from this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Two-time Olympic pole-vault gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva has been reported as saying she wants to head the Russian committee.

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Yelena Isinbayeva prepares to retire after Russian ban from Rio

Yelena Isinbayeva
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Two-time Olympic pole vault champ Yelena Isinbayeva, Russia’s most famous track and field athlete, said she sees “no sense in continuing my training further,” according to her social media translated by Russian media.

The comment came after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Thursday that Isinbayeva and 67 other Russian track and field athletes will not be allowed to compete in Rio.

Isinbayeva said she will train through Sunday, when the International Olympic Committee executive board is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting to consider a possible ban of all Russian athletes from Rio.

Isinbayeva said it would take “a miracle” for Russian track and field athletes (other than the allowed Yulia Stepanova and Darya Klishina) to be let back into the Games, according to Russian media.

Isinbayeva, 34 and the world-record holder, last competed internationally at the 2013 World Championships (where she won) and then took off 2014 and 2015 and early 2016 due to a pregnancy and then injury.

In her June return, she cleared 4.90 meters to win the Russian Championship in Cheboksary. It’s the best clearance of any woman in the world this year. Isinbayeva would be the Olympic favorite if she was allowed to compete in Rio.

“We were planning to clear the height not lower than 5.1 meters [in Rio],” Isinbayeva, whose world record is 5.06 meters, said, according to Russian news agency TASS. “My coach and I expected that I would win with a world record at the Olympics.”

With Isinbayeva out, the Olympic favorites include London 2012 champion Jenn Suhr of the U.S., 2015 World champion Yarisley Silva of Cuba and Brazil’s most decorated active track and field athlete, Fabiana Murer.

MORE: Five Russian stars set to miss Rio Olympics