Yelena Isinbayeva plans to sue after Russia’s track and field ban upheld

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VIENNA (AP) — Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva says she will sue after the IAAF upheld the country’s ban from international track and field competition.

Isinbayeva tells Russia’s Tass agency the decision is “a breach of human rights,” adding that she will follow through on an earlier plan to take the case to “a court of human rights.”

It was not immediately clear which court she meant.

If Russia is barred from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 34-year-old Isinbayeva says of the Russian national track and field championships, which start Monday, that “this competition could be the final one in my career.”

Isinbayeva won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008, and bronze in 2012.

The suspension was imposed in November following a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency commission that alleged state-sponsored cheating, corruption and cover-ups in Russian track and field.

The Russian ministry said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision to ban the entire team from the Rio Games. It appealed to the IOC to “consider the impact that our athletes’ exclusion will have on the dreams and the people of Russia.”

The International Olympic Committee has scheduled a summit of sports leaders next Tuesday to address “the difficult decision between collective responsibility and individual justice.”

That meeting could potentially open the door for individual athletes who have never been accused of doping and are deemed to be clean to compete at the games.

Isinbayeva says the ban will make the Olympics similar to those in 1980 and 1984, when there were mass boycotts.

She says in a statement that “a lot of (IAAF officials) were in similar situations in 1980 and 1984 when the United States and the USSR boycotted the Olympic Games.”

She says “now I am in this situation.”

The United States and other western countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest at Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union and many of its allies refused to compete at the Olympics in Los Angeles four years later.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe won gold in the 1,500 meters at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, competing under the Olympic flag in 1980 because Britain was officially part of the boycott.

The American member of the IAAF Council says she has no compassion for Russian pole vaulter Isinbayeva.
Stephanie Hightower tells The Associated Press that Isinbayeva is “condoning the corrupt system over there.”

Hightower says, “I’m calling into question, is she part of the system, too? It’s very troubling that someone of her caliber would question a system that basically every other Olympic athlete is subject to, and that she’s talking about human-rights issues. She should be talking to her government. Her government has failed athletes. We have not.”

In a statement released Friday, the world-record holder said “there are huge concerns over IAAF itself and its stance on defending the rights of clean athletes.”

She wants more leniency for clean Russian athletes and called the Russian ban “a violation of human rights.”

MORE: Yelena Isinbayeva: Competing under Olympic Flag not possible