Maria Lasitskene, a three-time world champion high jumper, wrote an open letter in which she laid the blame on Russian sports officials after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) agreed to a new four-year ban on the participation of Russian athletes, over doping non-compliance.
In her open letter, Lasitskene claimed that she had already previously been deprived of the right to compete under the Russian flag in 2015, and now she wants to know how official Russia handled the previous doping scandal. Did it conduct an internal investigation, and who, if anyone, was ultimately punished?.
"I'm wondering what exactly the Ministry of Sports and the Russian Olympic Committee has done over the past four years to protect me personally? You have created such a large number of different commissions, but I cannot find the results of their work anywhere," Lasitskene accused.
She then asked: "So who is to blame for this? And who will restore to me what I've lost?"
Below is Maria Lasitskene's open letter:
Mariya Lasitskene (Source: Rtvi.com)
"They deprived me of [performing under] the Russian flag at the end of 2015. And they will, most likely, restore it finally only in 2024. I am not a judge nor an executioner in order to reach a verdict and enforce punishment for those who are to blame. I am an athlete who has accumulated a lot of questions.
"So what exactly happened to Russian track and field and to the ARAF [All-Russia Athletic Federation] in 2015? Have we conducted an internal investigation? Who was punished as a result? Well, apart from those few athletes caught doping and five or six officials and coaches who were removed [from the office] by the IAAF [International Association of Track and field Federations] itself. Or did we just agree with everything and decided not to sort things out further?
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"If the scandal's main perpetrators were removed, why didn't the situation really change? Why are illegal drugs still being used in our track and field, why do coaches of athletes apprehended for doping continue to work comfortably, and why do senior officials falsify official documents?
"Is it true that during all these four years the Ministry of Sports and the ROC [Russian Olympic Committee] has been satisfied with the work of the ARAF senior officials? Then what is the dire situation in the federation that everyone is talking about now, if [the Former ARAF President Dmitry] Shlyakhtin and his team have been doing everything right all this time?
"The ARAF charter starts with the words that the main goal of the federation is the development, improvement and popularization of track and field. But are you aware that now most of the regional federations are living from hand to mouth, and in domestic tournaments, athletes mostly play for trophies and certificates?
"Are you aware that the level of results is falling, and track and field is exiting not only the TV channels, but also the large Russian cities, where almost no open track and field stadiums remain? Aren't all of these performance indicators?
You did not say a word when the head of the ARAF, Shlyakhtin, began hinting to me that my neutral status will be withdrawn just for criticizing him. Do you think this should be the standard? I don't. Although what I'm saying is that you are happy even now, that this person, who has been removed by the AIU and expelled from the federation, remains in charge of sport issues for the Samara Region and continues to participate in ARAF affairs. And he is also dragging his right hand man into a position of leadership. I won't be surprised if he appeals to the CAS at the expense of the Ministry of Sports or ARAF.
"Do you really think that the current ARAF presidium, consisting of only 10 people (initially there were 17), has the right on December 11 to decide the fate of the federation for 2020? Will we turn over a new leaf thanks to the people who, in recent years, meekly agreed with all the decisions of the ousted leader?
"I'm wondering what exactly the Ministry of Sports and the ROC has done over the past four years to protect me personally? You have created such a large number of different commissions, but I cannot find the results of their work anywhere. And today I do not have a neutral status and have no chance to acquire it.
"Do you want me to personally sue Shlyakhtin and ARAF, whose 'professional' actions led to the current situation? Well, I will consider this possibility. I have already missed one Olympics and a year and a half of international competitions. And, apparently, this is not the limit. So who is to blame for this? And who will restore to me what I've lost?
"How did we end up in a situation where the availability of a neutral status should gladden an athlete? I am a Russian athlete who wants and has the right to perform freely in the international arena under the Russian flag, listening to the Russian anthem. I don't want and should not wake up in the morning thinking if the IAAF will be in the mood today to allow me to compete.
"I often hear (also from you) that Lasickene only criticizes emotionally and does not propose who should come instead of the suspended trainers or officials. I am surprised at such requests. I should not have to deal with this. My job is to jump. I report to you only my results. I think that in this regard you shouldn't have any special complaints to me today.
"But you too, in my opinion, should be accountable for your actions. Still, it is your organizations that preside over sport in our country. And the heart of sports are the athletes.
"I understand that, most likely, I will not receive answers to all these questions. Someone will say that I don't know much, and someone will simply take pity on me. I don't need any of this. I want to be honest with myself, with the fans and the young athletes. And I want to get what belongs to me - the right to perform, to perform anytime and anywhere and for this I am fighting!"