Isinbayeva calls it quits

Yelena Isinbayeva.

Barred from competing at the Rio Games, Russia’s double Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva announced her retirement on Friday and said whoever won the women’s pole vault in her absence would not have achieved a proper gold medal.

At a combative news conference, Isinbayeva also said God would be the judge of whether athletics’ governing body was right to exclude almost the entire Russian track and field team, including herself, over what it said was incontrovertible evidence of State-sponsored doping.

Isinbayeva said she had been confident of winning the pole vault after clearing 4.90 metres on June 2 on her first competitive appearance in three years after giving birth to a daughter.

She said she and her coach had been confident she would achieve 5.10, four centimetres higher than her own World record, and well above the season’s best of 4.93 set by American Sandi Morris.

“I really believed in my victory, because everything was heading towards that,” Isinbayeva said.

“When the girls jump today without me, do you think that will be honest?
“If you look at the big picture, when you compete without Isinbayeva it can’t be a proper gold medal.”

Whoever wins, she said, “I will congratulate the new pole vault champion, of course, but I’m sure she will feel it’s not entirely gold because goal number one is to beat Isinbayeva.”

Isinbayeva, 34, was elected by her peers on Thursday to the International Olympic Committee’s athletes' commission, and the IOC will vote on Sunday on whether to confirm her as one of its around 100 members.

In that role, she will be an influential and outspoken player at a time of crisis in relations between Russia and the wider Olympic movement. Many Russians believe the exclusion of more than 100 of their athletes from Rio is part of a Cold War-style political plot to punish Moscow for opposing the West over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

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