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Albanian long jumper suspended after alleged cheating for Olympic spot

Long jumper Izmir Smajlaj and two officials from Albania face bans after they were accused of submitting false information that helped Smajlaj get a spot at the Tokyo Olympics last year

Photo by: Izmir Smajlaj/Facebook

A long jumper and two officials from Albania have been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) following an investigation surrounding the submission of false information to help long jumper Izmir Smajlaj qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

On Dec. 9, the AIU announced that it had charged Smajlaj, Albanian track federation president Gjegj Ruli and the federation’s general secretary, Nikolin Dionisi, with disciplinary offences over a competition held in Albania in May 2021, two months before the Tokyo Olympics.

Smajlaj was named the competition winner, with a national-record jump of 8.16 metres. “It is alleged that false information was submitted to World Athletics and the AIU in support of Smajlaj’s result,” the AIU said.

According to his World Athletics profile, Smajlaj has never jumped over the eight-metre mark outside of Albania. His top five jumps in his career have all been at competitions in his home country.  

Smajlaj’s result was just shy of the Olympic qualifying mark of 8.22 metres, but he was given a spot under the “universality rule” that allows smaller countries to send one male and one female athlete to the Olympic track events if they are close to the standard. These athletes still have to provide evidence they have met a certain standard to compete.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Izmir Smajlaj (@izmirsmajlaj)

Smajlaj jumped 7.86 metres in the qualification round at the 2020 Olympics, but failed to qualify for the final.

Albania was one of seven countries on a “competition manipulation watch list” along with Turkey, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

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