Belarus coach charged with alleged AIU code of conduct breaches in sprinter case

A Belarus athletics coach has been charged with multiple alleged breaches of World Athletics’ Integrity Code of Conduct in relation to the case of sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, whose defection during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics made international headlines.

A statement from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said Yury Maisevich, who was head coach of Tsimanouskaya’s athletics team at those Games, had been charged with committing breaches of sections of the code related to Honesty (Rule 3.3.1), Dignity (Rule 3.3.10) and Protect Reputation (Rule 3.3.17).

The statement said: “Tsimanouskaya’s participation in the women’s 200 metres was curtailed following her criticism on social media of Belarusian athletics coaching staff for entering her in the 4x400m relay without her knowledge.

“Following Tsimanouskaya’s public comments, which hit international headlines, team officials withdrew her from competition; and the athlete claimed that they forced her to leave the Olympic Village and tried to send her back to Belarus. However, she sought protection from the Japanese police at the airport and she has since settled in another country.

“The AIU alleges that, in respect of these circumstances of Tsimanouskaya’s removal from the Olympic Games, Maisevich did not act with integrity and acted in bad faith; failed to safeguard the athlete’s dignity and his actions constituted verbal and mental harassment; and that he brought athletics generally into disrepute.”

In a filmed message distributed on social media during the incident, Tsimanouskaya claimed she had been pressured by Belarus team officials and asked the International Olympic Committee for help.

“I was put under pressure and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent,” the now 26-year-old runner said at the time.

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Tsimanouskaya, who said she feared for her safety if she returned to Belarus, refused to get on her flight and was later granted a humanitarian visa from Poland, for whom she now competes after announcing on Instagram that she had received citizenship from the country.

AIU head Brett Clothier said: “An important role of the AIU is to safeguard athletes and protect them from harassment. The AIU has investigated this matter thoroughly and considers there is a case to answer for a breach of the Integrity Code of Conduct.”

The statement concluded: “This matter was referred to the AIU by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Athletics (WA) on 30 September 2021. Maisevich was one of two Belarusian officials whose Olympic accreditation was revoked by IOC regarding this situation. The other official, Artur Shumak, has not been charged.”