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Officials Banned for False Report for Olympic Qualification


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Two track and field officials in Albania have been banned from the sport for falsifying an athlete’s result to help him qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, the Athletics Integrity Unit said Wednesday.

Long jumper Izmir Smajlaj was cleared of being part of the conspiracy to register a national record in May 2021 that gained him entry to compete at the Tokyo Games.

The AIU had said Smajlaj, Albanian track federation president Gjergj Ruli and federation general secretary Nikolin Dionisi “conspired together and submitted falsified wind measurement readings” for the athlete’s 8.16-meter leap in Tirana.

The jump, which was not legal by track and field rules, earned Smajlaj one of two available “universality” entries — an Olympic wild card given to lower-ranked nations — in the 32-man lineup for his event.

He was Albania’s only men’s track and field athlete at the Tokyo Olympics, where Ruli traveled as his coach, the AIU said. Smajlaj also competed at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Dionisi admitted to four charges relating to honesty and integrity and was banned from the sport for four years, the track disciplinary body said. His backdated ban ends in December 2026.

Ruli disputed the charges at a hearing in Nice, France, where three judges ruled they were “comfortably satisfied” he was involved in the conspiracy. Ruli’s five-year ban expires in April 2028.

“Federation officials are supposed to uphold fair play and clean sport, and we will hold them accountable for their actions should evidence show they are doing otherwise,” Athletics Integrity Unit chair David Howman said in a statement.

At the Tokyo Olympics, Smajlaj placed 17th in qualifying with a jump of 7.86 meters and did not advance to the final.

The 30-year-old athlete, who was European indoor champion in 2017, has had his provisional suspension from competition lifted. His valid career-best jump is 8.11 meters, set in 2019.

In a 22-page verdict, the judges said “it is not disputed that Mr. Smajlaj did indeed” leap 8.16 on the day but there was no equipment on site to measure the wind and validate the performance.

The AIU asked on June 30, one month before the Olympic competition, for the Albanian federation to provide evidence of the jump and the equipment. A staged photograph was later sent.

All three men “ultimately admitted there was in fact no wind measuring equipment at the relevant competition and that this photo was taken on a different day,” the disciplinary verdict said.

The judges criticized Ruli, Albania’s track president since 2005 and a former national Olympic committee official, for displaying “no remorse for his conduct” but noted the sport in his country did not have much money for equipment.

This impoverishment, the verdict said, put Albanian athletes “at a significant disadvantage in competing on the world stage.”



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