Athletics

Russian athletes to compete under Olympic flag?

Yelena Isinbayeva (AFP)
Yelena Isinbayeva (AFP)

Lausanne - The chances of seeing Russian athletes competing under the Olympic flag at the 2016 Rio Games are "total speculation", the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Tuesday.

"This (marching under an Olympic flag) is total speculation, I cannot see this situation occuring at this moment," IOC president Thomas Bach said.

Russian track and field stars including renowned pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva on Monday evoked competing under an Olympic flag following the IAAF's decision to hand the Russian track and field federation a temporary suspension.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission last week published a damning report that alleged Russian athletics were plagued with state-sponsored doping and large-scale corruption, and had recommended that Russian track and field athletes be barred from international competition.

Bach said the current situation for Russian athletes was straightforward.

"If the Russian athletics federation is not compliant and the athletes cannot take part in any kind of qualifications, then the situation is clear," he said in a statement.

"If you cannot qualify, you cannot participate in the Games."

Russian athletes finished in second place on the medals table at the 2012 London Olympics with eight gold medals, just one shy of table-toppers the United States.

Russian sporting officials have announced a three-month plan to revamp athletics in time for track and field stars to participate in the Rio de Janeiro Games in August 2016.

But former WADA head Dick Pound -- who served as the head of the independent commission -- said that Russia's participation in Rio would depend on its ability to promptly clean up its act.

Isinbayeva, 33, for whom the upcoming Rio Olympics would be her fifth and last Games, wrote Saturday on Instagram she was "shocked" by the IAAF's decision, after having implored the world athletics governing body for leniency and not a blanket ban.

"Pound said it was a shame that I was a victim of the system," Isinbayeva said. "But I am not a victim of the system. I am outside it."

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