Russian athlete Alexandra Morozova blocked from competing in Comrades Marathon
Morozova has been pulled out of the race because she’s Russian. This, in line with a supposed directive from World Athletics, based on Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine. Her only hopes to compete on Sunday now rest with the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where she filed an urgent application challenging the decision on Friday.
JOHANNESBURG - With just days to go before the Comrades Marathon, one of this year’s top contenders - Alexandra Morozova - has been pulled out of the race because she’s Russian.
Her only hopes to compete on Sunday now rest with the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where she filed an urgent application challenging the decision on Friday.
The case is set to be heard first thing on Saturday morning.
In her papers, Morozova cites an IOL article from just over a week ago in which Comrades Marathon organisers confirmed that 33 Russian runners would be competing in this year’s race - and in which Morozova was specifically mentioned by name.
She also cites a post on the Comrades Marathon’s official Instagram page from earlier this month, in which she was billed as one of the top ten women competing this year.
Despite this, she says on Thursday - with just three days to go before the event - she received a letter from the Comrades Marathon Association. It said that her entry and race number had been withdrawn from the registration, in line with a supposed directive from World Athletics, based on Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine.
“The reason given for my exclusion was that World Athletics had given ‘clear and specific’ instructions that elite athletes or athletes who will win prize money, such as myself, were to be denied entry to any World Athletics affiliated races,” she said.
“Upon reading the letter from World Athletics, however, it is clear that this is not the case. World Athletics does not, in fact, give ‘clear and explicit’ instructions to exclude elite Russian athletes from competing in the marathon, but rather ‘strongly requests’ that events exclude Russian authorised neutral athletes from competing, and recommends that athletes of Russian nationality - likely to win prize money - not be allowed to compete,” Morozova elaborated.
Marazova says she intends to review the decision in due course. In the meantime, though, she wants the Comrades Marathon Association interdicted from preventing her from competing this weekend.
She says she will suffer irreparable harm otherwise in that she won’t be able to earn the prize money she has “a reasonable expectation of winning,” nor will she be able to fulfil her obligations in terms of a sponsorship agreement that she has with athletic apparel company Asics.
“Once the marathon is run, I have lost my opportunity to compete for the prize money and meet sponsorship requirements. This causes prejudice which cannot be remedied at a later stage with an award for damages, as there cannot be certainty regarding where I will place in the marathon, unless I run it,” Morozova explained.
It’s unclear at this stage whether the Comrades Marathon Association is opposing the case, with chairperson Mqondisi Ngcobo having this afternoon told Eyewitness News that they’re still considering their position.