'Traitor' Russian Athlete Will Compete as Neutral at Olympics

Long-jumper Darya Klishina was exempted from the ban on Russia's track-and-field team
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2016 6:15 PM CDT
'Traitor' Russian Athlete Will Compete as Neutral at Olympics
Russian long-jumper Darya Klishina was approved to compete in the Rio Olympics as a neutral athlete despite the doping-related ban on Russia's track-and-field team.   (AP Photo/Nikolai Alexandrov)

Out of the entire banned Russian track-and-field team, it appears only 25-year-old long-jumper Darya Klishina will be allowed to compete in the Rio Olympics. And the Guardian reports that's made her a top target for frustrated Russian sports fans. The Russian team was banned over a doping scandal. But according to AFP, the International Association of Athletics Federation ruled over the weekend that Klishina, who lives and trains full time in Florida, could participate in the Olympics—her first—as a neutral athlete. In a press release, the IAAF states Klishina met the "exceptional eligibility criteria" and was sufficiently drug tested by systems outside Russia. The IAAF turned down 67 similar requests from Russian athletes.

Klishina thanked the IAAF in a Facebook post on Sunday. She maybe shouldn't have done that. "My agent, my family told me right away, 'Don't go online, don't read anything,'" she tells AFP. Klishina was called a "traitor" and compared to Soviets who helped the Nazis. Some told her to get rid of her Russian passport and never return home. Others just hoped for her to fail. Criticisms came from Facebook commenters, journalists, and even a government spokesperson. Klishina says she's still hoping the rest of the team will be able to go to Rio (a ruling on Russia's appeal is expected next week). “I would be happy if all of us had been allowed to compete,” she tells the Guardian. But not everyone is against Klishina. "She is a Russian citizen. And if she ends up on the podium, she will still be our pride," one Russian lawmaker tells AFP. “We will be proud of her.” (More Olympics stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.