Two-time Olympic champion and former pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva has announced that she will continue working for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In a Facebook post on July 17, Isinbayeva claimed that the IOC had allowed her to continue working in the organization following a review:
“I, Yelena Isinbaeva, a legend of world athletics / pole vault. [...]
In Russia, as in any other country in Europe, every athlete belongs to one or another sports club. Until 2018, I played for CSKA and was awarded high awards and titles for outstanding sports achievements. The titles that are being talked about today are nominal, since I am not and have never been in the service of the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Just as I have never been a State Duma deputy or a member of any party. [...]
Since 2016, I am a member of the International Olympic Committee, where I actively work with my colleagues, outstanding athletes from all over the world, for the benefit of the development of sports and the Olympic movement.
There was a temporary pause in the work, the IOC needed time to sort everything out. Today I am happy to announce that already in September 2023 I will resume my international activities in the IOC, since the IOC has no doubts about me and I do not fall under any articles and sanctions.
Friends, I appeal to everyone who distributes fake articles and information: - I am a women of the world, I have always been and I will remain one!
I live where I work, eat what I love, communicate with those whom I appreciate and respect.
I have always believed and will continue to believe in the best sides of every person, even those people who are ‘ready to throw a stone at me today,’ just because someone, something, somewhere said, wrote or distributed a photo 10 years ago that has no connection with real reality.
Remember - envy is a destructive feeling.”
On July 12, The Insider reported that Isinbayeva, who holds the rank of major in the Russian army, had moved to the NATO country of Spain, and is currently based in Tenerife. Isinbayeva’s move to Spain was initially reported by local media outlet El Digital Sur.
In 2012, Isinbayeva became an authorized representative for Vladimir Putin in Russia’s presidential election. In November 2017, she joined the “Putin Team,” a social movement founded by NHL player Alexander Ovechkin ahead of Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign in 2018.
In January 2020, Isinbayeva was included in Russia's Constitutional amendment working group. The “new” Constitution, approved on July 1, 2020, “zeroed out” Putin’s previous terms as President of Russia, and allowed him to stay in power until 2036.
Isinbayeva has also repeatedly criticized “Western values” and made homophobic statements. “Foreigners should treat our laws with respect and not promote ideas of non-traditional [sexual] orientation. If we allow this culture, we will become fearful for Russia. After all, we consider ourselves normal, standard people. [In our country] guys live with girls, [and] girls [live] with guys,” she said in August 2013.
Before the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Isinbayeva gave an impassioned speech at a meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, asking him to safeguard Russian athletes from “lawlessness” and “punish everyone involved” in the suspension of Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics.
In February 2023, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Isinbayeva was included in Ukraine's sanctions list targeting “representatives of the Russian sphere of sport who are trying to put sport in the service of aggression.” Isinbayeva holds the military rank of Major in the Russian Armed Forces, following a lengthy career at CSKA Moscow – the Central Sports Army Club.
Isinbayeva is also listed in the Ukrainian Myrotvorets (“Peacemaker”) database. Myrotvorets is a website that publishes a running list of people who are considered by the authors of the website to be “enemies of Ukraine,” or, as the website itself states — “whose actions have signs of crimes against the national security of Ukraine, peace, human security, and the international law.”
According to the website, Isinbayeva has “knowingly violated the State Border of Ukraine in order to enter Crimea captured by Russian occupiers,” “taken part in Russia’s propaganda activities against Ukraine,” and “[taken part] in attempts to legalize the occupation of Crimea by Russia.”