MOSCOW, July 24. /TASS/. The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro without Russian athletes and their brightest representative Yelena Isinbayeva will be empty, and such athletes should be defended at the federal level, Russia’s two-time Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko told TASS.
"Without our athletes, let alone without Yelena Isinbayeva (two-time Olympic pole vault champion), (the Olympic Games) will be empty," Plushenko said. "Lena could set new records and motivate youth to achieve more. This is important for sports, for society! Such athletes should be defended at the federal level," he stressed.
"We should fight back, it is time to show the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that we are stronger. What do they push us around, pressure us? We have grown out of these pants," Plushenko noted. "It is time for us to show that we have capabilities to defend our athletes - not just athletes, but leaders for whom the whole world will cheer, and borders between countries will fade. We do not just cheer for Lena from Russia, we cheer for the athlete who, by making superhuman efforts, sets for a new record at her fifth Olympics with clean doping tests," he added.
Plushenko expressed support for all Russian athletes banned from competing at the Olympics. "This a very hard time. I cannot even imagine something like this happening to me. For Lena, it would have been podium 100% She recently showed the best result of the season, which means she is in great shape, and what now? You are preparing with all you got, working every day, fighting yourself and fighting your injuries," he said.
"For the Olympic movement, banning Isinbayeva is a great loss. To stand on the podium with great Isinbayeva is prestigious and is an honor for any athlete, bring ratings to any sports channel and happiness to any fan. Think about what you are doing, you are taking the dream away from the person who has moved toward it so hard and for so long. Lena was a symbol of faith and overcoming yourself for many people, an idol for millions of fans around the world, because the Olympic movement is not just about competition. It is a mission that we are carrying throughout our whole lives," he concluded.
On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held a meeting of its executive board to discuss possible blanket ban of Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics. The IOC executive committee decided not to ban the Russian team. Individual decision on Russian athletes will be taken by relevant international federations. Apart from that, the IOC ruled than no Russian athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping will be allowed to take part in the Rio Olympics, even if he or she has served the sanction.
The press service of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) told TASS that it will not reconsider applications of Russian athletes to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games. The ban is not applicable only to long jump athlete Darya Klishina who has been living and training in the United States for the past three years.