World Athletics has confirmed that the events surrounding Krystsina Tsimanouskaya’s forced withdrawal from the 2020 Summer Olympics are still being investigated in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In a statement released on Thursday, World Athletics stated, “Further to the incident involving Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the decision taken by the IOC to cancel and remove the accreditations of the two coaches, Messrs A. Shimak and Y. Maisevich, as a provisional measure during the Games, the IOC and World Athletics have jointly agreed to continue the investigation and to open a formal procedure vis-à-vis the two aforementioned coaches.”
“To this effect, and given that the Olympic Games have now concluded, it has been decided that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) – the independent body created by World Athletics to manage all integrity issues (both doping-related and non-doping-related) for the sport of athletics – will conduct the procedure, with the full collaboration and support of the IOC.”
The investigation marks the continuation of the harrowing saga involving Tsimanouskaya that began at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics when she openly complained on social media about event entry choices made by the national federation.
According to Tsimanouskaya, she was withdrawn against her will from the Olympic Games following her public complaints against the coaching staff. The Belarusian delegation then attempted to force her to board a plane that would fly her back to Minsk.
Tsimanouskaya sought the protection of Japanese authorities and the IOC once she was taken to Narita airport. In the days that followed she was granted a humanitarian visa that allowed her to enter Poland.
According to the Belarusian national Olympic committee (NOC), Tsimanouskaya was withdrawn from Tokyo 2020 due to her “emotional, psychological state.” Belarusian state media and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko have repeatedly claimed that Tsimanouskaya was manipulated by those who dislike Belarus.
The NOC of Belarus was already in hot water with the IOC before the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Following Belarusian presidential elections that were widely viewed as rigged in favor of Lukashenko, the IOC sanctioned the NOC of Belarus for a failure to protect athletes from political discrimination after it was alleged that athletes who protested the election of Lukashenko were discriminated against.
The sanctions included the barring of Tokyo 2020 credentials from any senior member of the Belarusian government, a request that all international federations and sport organizations make sure that Belarusian athletes could compete without political discrimination, and the suspension of a financial payments to the NOC of Belarus.
The IOC also refused to acknowledge the election of Viktor Lukashenko, son of Alexander Lukashenko, as President of the NOC of Belarus. The IOC also refused to recognize the election of Dmitry Baskov as member of the Executive Board of the Belarusian NOC.
With the IOC now investigating the incident involving Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, there is the possibility that the NOC of Belarus could face further sanctions.
In the meantime, Tsimanouskaya has expressed a desire to represent Poland at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. She would need to overcome several administrative hurdles to do so, such as the three year period required by World Athletics for an athlete to change their nationality.
As reported by Around the Rings earlier this month, she has been accepted by Orlen Sports Group, a group that caters to top Polish athletes, which will make it easier for her to continue her sports career.
She is also being supported by the Polish Athletics Association, on top of receiving sports scholarships and financial support from sponsors.
World Athletics and the Athletics Integrity Unit have yet to set a date for the publication of the investigation’s findings, but did state that the outcome of the investigation will be published when it has been finalized.