NEWS BRIEF All of Russia’s track-and-field team will sit out next month’s Rio Olympics because of the widespread and system-wide doping that was recently uncovered—except for two who won’t compete under the Russian flag. The first to announce she would attend Rio as a neutral athlete was 800-meter sprinter Yuliya Stepanova, whom the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared earlier this month.
A few days ago, the IAAF announced it would also allow Russian long-jumper Darya Klishina to compete as a neutral athlete. And just like Stepnova, Klishina has come under massive criticism. A popular journalist compared her to the Russians who helped Nazis in World War II. Some critics called her a “traitor and scum.” The Moscow-based newspaper Argumenty I Fakty pulled some of these excoriations together from social media:
"It seems that the jumper jumped so well that she jumped out of the country ... the fans in Russia will not be with you, " - opined Nikolai Ivanov .
"You have decided to act under a neutral flag? For you, this is not humiliating? Can you really change nationality, " - says Igor Kljukvin .
The duo weren’t the only Russian athletes to apply for neutral status. More than 130 track-and-field competitors applied to compete under no nation’s flag, saying they weren’t involved in the doping scandal. Of those, the IAAF has denied 67 requests, and approved two: Stepanova and Klishina’s. The rest are still up for review.