Mariya Lasitskene renewed her criticism of International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas is unlikely to reverse his organization’s recommendations for a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes because it’s easier for him to pretend that they simply don’t exist, according to Olympic high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene.
Lasitskene, 29, has been among the most vocal critics of Bach from the Russian sporting community, previously penning an open letter to the IOC chief and accusing him of hypocrisy.
The Tokyo 2020 high jump champion repeated her criticism in an interview with TASS published on Wednesday, in which she stated that there was no dignified way our for Bach after the IOC’s call in February for sports federations to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes wherever possible.
“No one can deprive athletes of the right to realize themselves, and the restrictions imposed on Russians and Belarusians, introduced after the IOC’s strong recommendations, only worsened an already difficult situation,” said the three-time world champion.
“I think that now Bach will simply have to renew his recommendations, since there is no worthy way out of this story for him.
“It will be easier to pretend that we, Russian and Belarusian athletes, did not exist and do not exist.”
Lasitskene has suffered at hands of bans before, being deprived of the chance to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics because of the allegations of state-sponsored doping against Russia, even though she was entirely uninvolved.
“The older you are, the more this injustice depresses you. The 2022 season is even more difficult with the realization of what is happening in the world as a whole,” Lasitskene told TASS.
“Again, there were many moments that unsettled me. But this, of course, cannot be compared with the situation in which the Ukrainian high jumpers found themselves in the last six months.”
The high jump star has also been critical of her country’s sports authorities, accusing them of taking insufficient or wrongheaded actions to protect Russian athletes.
“In 2016-2017, I was generally sure that we have knowledgeable people who will not leave athletes in trouble and will defend our rights to the bitter end,” said Lasitskene.
“Even in 2019, I still trusted our sports leadership a little, which reassured me and said: ‘Masha, there is no reason to worry, everything will be fine.’
“And only then did I finally see that our sports officials have neither effective leverage to protect their athletes, nor an understanding of how to solve these problems.
“As a result, the fact that we were offered neutral status in 2017 [in order to compete], and the fact that we agreed to it without hesitation, turned out to be the only opportunity to perform at least somewhere.”
There have already been suggestions by former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chief and IOC honorary IOC member Craig Reedie that the bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes could force them to miss the 2024 Paris Olympics because they are not cleared for qualifying events ahead of the Games.
Russian officials have cautioned that it is far too early to make assumptions, and Lasitskene vowed that she would fight for her right to appear in Paris until the very last moment.
“I will defend my right to compete at the Olympic Games to the end. If it’s necessary to go to [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] again for this, we will,” said the high jumper.Leave a comment