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

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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