Former Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has been chosen to chair the new supervisory board of the Russian anti-doping agency, which is struggling to recover its reputation after repeated doping scandals.
The agency, known as Rusada, said in a statement on Wednesday that Isinbayeva would head a 10-person board including sports executives, academics, and a Russian sports ministry official.
Isinbayeva was part of the Russian athletics team which was banned from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for widespread drug use, though she has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Isinbayeva’s appointment could cause tension with the World Anti-Doping Agency, which she has sharply criticized, saying its accusations against Russia are unproven, and calling for athlete-turned-whistleblower Yulia Stepanova to be banned for life.
Isinbayeva’s first task at Rusada will be to persuade WADA to restore the agency’s compliance status, allowing it to conduct testing again.
“The effectiveness with which that fight (against doping) will be carried out in Russia depends on when Rusada gets back its compliance,” Isinbayeva said in a statement. “That is what we see our main task to be, and we will put maximum effort into it.”
Rusada was suspended in November 2015 after a WADA commission report accused its officials of colluding to cover up doping and giving athletes advance warning for supposedly no-notice tests. Since February, the United Kingdom anti-doping agency has handled testing in Russia.
Isinbayeva’s appointment comes as she is a candidate to head the All-Russia Athletics Federation, which remains suspended from international competition. It was not immediately clear whether she planned to withdraw from the federation elections on Friday.