Yelena Isinbayeva: Don’t ban clean Russian athletes

Double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has pleaded with the IAAF not to impose a ban on Russian athletes amid allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Earlier this week an independent commission established by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) called for the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) to be suspended over allegations of “corruption and bribery” at the highest levels of international athletics.

The commission, which was led by former WADA president Dick Pound, was created to investigate claims of systemic cheating and cover-ups in Russian athletics.

The IAAF is set to meet on Friday to vote on whether to act on WADA’s suggestion and issue a provisional ban on Russian athletes.

Isinbayeva, one of Russia’s most decorated athletes who won gold at the Athens and Beijing Games, has urged the IAAF not to punish clean athletes by preventing them from competing at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“Dear friends, all of you have known me very well and for a long time. During all my sports career I did my job honestly, I trained a lot and won World Championships and Olympic Games and set world records,” the world record holder wrote in an open letter publish on ARAF’s official website.

“All my victories are honest, clean and deserved. I have always followed and am following all the anti-doping rules precisely. The situation the Russian national team is in now is very sad but I ask you not to treat all the athletes in the same negative way.

“To ban innocent athletes not connected to that doping scandal from competing in international events and Olympic Games in Rio is not fair.

“I hope for the wisdom of the leaders of the IAAF and I believe that the correct decision will be taken.

“Those who are guilty will pay their price, and those who are innocent will have the opportunity to compete and represent our country in a dignified manner at all international sports arenas.”