Yelena Isinbayeva has been elected on to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) athlete's commission, even though she is banned from Rio 2016. The 34-year-old Russian pole vaulter, who is a double Olympic champion, has been elected by fellow athletes as one of four new members of the commission, which serves as a link between athletes and the IOC.
The inclusion of Isinbayeva is bound to stir controversy as Russian track and field athletes were banned from the Games in Brazil due to state-sponsored doping. However, the pole vaulter has never failed a doping test and has been elected on to the commission alongside Britta Heidemann, the German fencer, Hungarian swimmer Daniel Gyurta and South Korean table tennis player Ryu Seung-min.
As part of her new role, Isinbayeva will influence how the Olympic movement works, while she will also strive to protect the rights of drug-free athletes. "I am very thankful to all athletes who voted for me here in Rio," said Isinbayeva, according to the BBC.
"Thank you so much for your trust, for your belief, for your support. For me it was very, very important. Today we won all together. It is very important for me because I was preparing for this Olympics for a long time and unfortunately I was not able to participate. It is a kind of compensation."
The move to appoint Isinbayeva has been welcomed by Alexander Zhukov, the Russian Olympic Committee chief. "It is very symbolic that she was elected after she had been banned from the Olympics," he reflected. "This, her election, is the athletes' response to injustice. This is Lena Isinbayeva's victory."
Isinbayeva, meanwhile, has been outspoken in her criticism of the decision to ban the Russian athletics team from the Games in Rio. Indeed, she recently slammed the move as "a blatant political order" issued down to the IAAF.
However, the IAAF only took the drastic action following the publication of an independently-commissioned Wada report, which uncovered evidence of a four-year, state-run "doping programme". In the report, federations were urged not to allow Russian athletes to compete if there could be any doubt about their doping history.