LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The president of the Russian Olympic Committee took a swipe at American sprinters Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay in a speech to Olympic leaders on Tuesday, questioning the fairness of letting them compete in Rio de Janeiro while some Russians cannot.
Alexander Zhukov made his case for Russian athletes to the sports leaders, who later upheld the decision to keep the country’s track and field federation suspended.
“Do you really think it is fair to make it impossible for Yelena Isinbayeva and Sergey Shubenkov to participate in the Olympic Games which will be attended by Tyson Gay and twice disqualified for doping Justin Gatlin?” Zhukov asked. “From the perspective of Russian athletes, it is an extreme injustice and humiliation.”
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medalist, has twice been suspended for doping. He tested positive for excessive testosterone in 2006, his second offense, but was reinstated on July 24, 2010. He returned to capture the bronze medal at the London Games two years later and finished second to Usain Bolt in the 100m and 200m at last year’s world championships in Beijing.
Gay has also tested positive for doping.
“We consider it unfair on the vast majority of our athletes who have never doped and have not violated any criteria,” Zhukov told the meeting. “They will be punished for the sins of others.”
Isinbayeva, the world-record holder in the pole vault and a two-time Olympic champion, has threatened to go to court on human rights grounds if she is barred from competing in Rio. Shubenkov won the 110m hurdles at last year’s worlds.
Russia’s track and field federation was suspended last November following a World Anti-Doping Agency commission report detailing systematic, state-sponsored doping. The sport’s world governing body upheld the decision on Friday, effectively keeping Russian track and field athletes from competing in Rio while also opening the door for some to compete as neutral athletes if they can prove they are clean.
The IOC backed the decision last week, and the Olympic summit did the same on Tuesday. But IOC President Thomas Bach did say that if any Russian track athletes do compete in Rio, they will do so under the Russian flag.