MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva is among four candidates to register for an election to choose a new president of the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF), the organisation said on its official website.
Isinbayeva, 34, was among 67 Russian athletes ruled out of this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) after a World Anti-Doping Agency report uncovered systematic state-sponsored doping in Russia.
Russian athletes were banned in November 2015 from competing in international competitions and the new ARAF chief's main task will be to try to lift the suspension. Isinbayeva has said she will never forgive the IAAF for imposing the ban.
Russian media say Isinbayeva, who won gold at the Athens and Beijing Games, is the frontrunner for the job.
The other candidates are current ARAF president Dmitri Shlyakhtin, its general secretary Mikhail Butov and the 2008 Olympics high jump champion Andrei Silnov, the website www.rusathletics.com said.
This list is now final as the deadline for registering was November 9. The election will take place in Moscow on Dec. 9.
Isinbayeva has a big reputation in Russia, where she is seen as a symbol of national sporting prowess. She personally appealed to President Vladimir Putin during a visit to the Kremlin in July to help restore the reputation of the country's track and field athletes.
"I ask you to defend us from this disregard for the law," she said, referring to the IAAF ban. "Unfortunately our sportsmen now are left without a defence. We really believe in you. We must punish all those involved in (imposing this ban)."
According to Sport Express newspaper, Isinbayeva was recently offered an important post outside the ARAF, though this has not been confirmed. If the report were to prove true, Shlyakhtin would be the favourite to win the presidency.
He took over as interim president in January, nearly a year after Valentin Balakhnichev stepped down. The IAAF has banned Balakhnichev for life over his role in covering up positive drugs tests committed by Russian athletes.
Shlyakhtin initially said he would quit as ARAF chief at the end of 2016 due to a heavy workload but then decided to run in the election. He is also the sports minister of the Samara Region, a chairman of the board of Krylya Sovetov football club and vice president of Lada Togliatti ice hockey club.
(Reporting By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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