THE BIG PICTURE: No Asian Games for “new” Uzbek cyclist Zabelinskaya

The story of ex-Russian cyclist Olga Zabelinskaya and her desire to ride for Uzbekistan has come to a halt for now.

The silver medalist in Rio in the Track Cycling Time trial and bronze medalist in London 2012 in the women’s Olympic road race and Track Cycling Time Trial, she had her change of nationality approved by the Union Cycliste internationale (UCI) earlier in August. The Uzbekistan National Olympic Committee immediately registered her for the Asian Games women’s Track Cycling Time Trial in Indonesia, scheduled to be held on 24 August.

The Olympic Council of Asia, which operates the Asian Games, refused to allow her entry into the race, “in accordance with the OCA Constitution, which provides that any athlete who has changed his/her nationality shall not participate in the Asian Games to represent his/her new country until three years after such change.”

Zabelinskaya and the Uzbek NOC filed an action with the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ad hoc division at the Asian Games and a hearing was undertaken the day before the race (23 August). The CAS panel of three arbitrators (from China, Iran and the Philippines) dismissed the application and “confirmed the OCA decision.”

A full discussion of the grounds for the decision is to be published “shortly.” Hopefully, this will come sooner than the full CAS decisions from the Russian participation cases for the PyeongChang Winter Games, only two of which (out of more than 30) have been published so far.