— Published 27 April 2023

A clean sweep for the Albanian federation

Bad case. Two officials of the Albanian Athletics Federation have been suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for fixing a result, thus allowing the country’s best athlete to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Gjergj Ruli, the president of the federation, and his secretary general Nikolin Dionisi, were found guilty of falsifying the wind measurement during a long jump competition in May 2021 in Tirana, where Izmir Smajlaj (pictured above) managed 8.16 m, a new Albanian record. With this performance, the athlete won one of the two tickets to the Tokyo Games distributed by World Athletics in the name of universality. In Japan, where he was the only representative of Albania in athletics, Izmir Smajlaj was eliminated in the qualifications, with a jump of 7.86 m. At the time of his national record set in May 2021 in Tirana, no wind measurement could be sent to World Athletics for approval. The international body was surprised. It asked the Albanian federation to provide proof of the validity of the performance. The two Albanian officials sent a photo of the record jump, but it later turned out that it had been taken at another competition. Gjergj Ruli, the president of the federation, was suspended for five years. Nikolin Dionisi’s suspension was reduced to four years for admitting the offence. The 2017 European indoor champion was cleared, but his alleged Albanian record was wiped clean.