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Jerry Sullivan Suhr’s gold-medal chances enhanced by IAAF actions

Jerry Sullivan

The IAAF took a courageous stand Friday by banning Russia’s track and field team from the upcoming Olympics for running an elaborate doping operation that tainted results of the last three Games.

The decision would remove a major obstacle in Jenn Suhr’s attempt to win a second straight pole vaulting gold medal. Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic champ and women’s outdoor record-holder, won’t renew her rivalry with Suhr if the ban is upheld. The IOC meets Tuesday.

Isinbayeva, 34, who came out of retirement after having a daughter two years ago, called the decision “discrimination on national grounds” and said she’ll appeal to a human rights court. She wrote an open letter to the New York Times, pleading her case.

Individual athletes will be allowed to compete if they “clearly and convincingly” prove they were clean. They could compete under a neutral flag. But considering the sophistication of the Russian scheme, which included switching urine samples, how can we be certain?

It was time for track’s governing body to take a strong stand. If a few Russians suffer, they have their own leaders to blame.