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Yelena Isinbayeva: Competing under Olympic Flag not possible

Yelena Isinbayeva

MOSCOW - MARCH 11: Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia celebrates winning gold after the pole vault final during the 11th IAAF World Indoor Championship, Day Two, at the Olimpiysky Stadium on March 11, 2006 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Yelena Isinbayeva, Russia’s most famous track and field athlete and a two-time Olympic pole vault champion, pleaded her case to be allowed to compete in Rio in a New York Times opinion piece Wednesday.

“There have been suggestions that I compete under the I.O.C. flag,” Isinbayeva wrote. “But this doesn’t seem like a real possibility. If I compete, it will be as a Russian. If the entire Russian team is suspended, I will be suspended, too.”

Russian track and field athletes have been indefinitely barred from competing internationally by the IAAF since November due to the country’s poor anti-doping record.

The IAAF is expected to announce Friday whether the ban will be lifted in time for Russian track and field athletes like Isinbayeva to compete in Rio.

Isinbayeva has for months defended herself and separated herself from her country’s large number of track and field athletes who have failed or evaded drug tests. She said in May that she would sue if barred from the Rio Games, which would be her fifth and likely final Olympics.

Isinbayeva wrote again Wednesday that she has never failed a drug test in more than a decade of being a world-class athlete.

“As Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics, said, ‘The Olympic Games were created for the exaltation of the individual athlete,’” Isinbayeva wrote. “The I.A.A.F. should not punish all of us for the wrongdoing of some.”