Nationality confusion forces Zabelinskaya out of Asian Games
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — One thing seems certain amid the conjecture over Olympic medalist Olga Zabelinskaya’s bid to switch nationality from Russia to Uzbekistan — she won’t be competing at the Asian Games.
Zabelinskaya has been seeking to change allegiances because she’s concerned over her eligibility to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Olympic Council of Asia barred her from competing in the road race on Wednesday, and the decision was upheld Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Zabelinskaya was listed in the Asian Games information system as a member of the Uzbekistan team and had been nominated for the road race, the individual time trial, the 3,000-meter individual pursuit, the women’s Madison and the omnium.
“Until the competition day, both Zabelinskaya and the Uzbekistan Olympic committee failed to provide any official letters from the Russian Olympic committee and the Russian Cycling Federation to approve and confirm the release of the athlete for the Uzbekistan cycling federation,” an OCA spokesman told The Associated Press. “Therefore, OCA considers she is not eligible to represent Uzbekistan at the 18th Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.”
Zabelinskaya, the cycling federation and the national Olympic committee appealed the decision and asked for an urgent hearing.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said its panel noted that the International Cycling Union had accepted Zabelinskaya’s request to change nationalities but ruled that under the Olympic Council of Asia regulations, such athletes are not eligible to represent their adopted country at the games until three years after the change.
“The panel dismissed the application and confirmed the OCA decision not to accept the participation of Olga Zabelinskaya in the women’s individual time trial,” the CAS said in a statement.
The Russian cycling federation also has said it opposes the switch.
Zabelinskaya won the Olympic silver medal in the time trial at Rio de Janeiro on 2016 and won bronze medals at the London Games in 2012 in the time trial and the road race.
Her road to Rio was far from smooth. She won a decision in the Court of Arbitration days before the 2016 Olympics that cleared her to compete despite a previous doping violation for a case dating back to 2014.
Russia has been mired in a doping scandal since allegations of state-sanctioned doping emerged following the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Russian athletes had to compete as neutrals at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, earlier this year.
In her athlete profile on the Asian Games information system, Zabelinskaya was quoted as saying, “You see what has been happening in Russian sport over the last two Olympic cycles. It all started in Rio, then the situation only deteriorated in Pyeongchang. I have a feeling that in Tokyo everything will be even worse.
“I’m 99 percent confident that my participation in the 2020 Olympics will be impossible under the Russian flag.”