Yelena Isinbayeva has claimed her senior ranks in the Russian military were just "nominal," which has angered the country's Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin ©Twitter

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to come under new pressure to further investigate Yelena Isinbayeva’s links to the Russian military after the country’s Sports minister publicly criticised her for claiming they were just "nominal" roles.

The two-time Olympic pole vault gold medallist has controversially been given permission to live in Spain following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year and plans soon to resume her work on the IOC Athletes' Commission.

She claimed on social media earlier this week that the "IOC has no doubts about me, and I do not fall under any articles and sanctions."

Isinbayeva has often been pictured in military uniform, having been promoted as her athletics career has progressed, being appointed as a major in 2015.

In her social media posts, she dismissed these promotions as "nominal, since I am not and have never been in the service of the armed forces of the Russian Federation."

That has angered Russia's Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, who today made it clear that he considered it the case she was part of the military.

"There is an absolutely unambiguous assessment here - it is unacceptable to treat military rank, citizenship and events that take place in your native country in this way," Matytsin told Russia’s official state news agency TASS. 

"Every person who loves his country has an unambiguously negative attitude towards such statements."

Isinbayeva has been accused of association with the Yunármiya, a youth branch of the All-Russian Association of the National Military Patriotic Social Movement.

She has been among President Vladimir Putin’s favourite athletes for many years now.

Isinbayeva has repaid his support by regularly backing him when he has stood for re-election, including in 2017 joining "PutinTeam", a social movement founded by National Hockey League superstar Alexander Ovechkinto to support him in the following year's election.

Yelena Isinbayeva and Vladimir Putin have been long-time supporters of each other ©The Kremlin
Yelena Isinbayeva and Vladimir Putin have been long-time supporters of each other ©The Kremlin

Isinbayeva was placed on Ukraine's sanctions list following the start of Russia's war with the country because of her alleged ties with the Kremlin.

In 2020, Putin appointed her to a working group for constitutional reform which resulted in him securing the long-term retention of power.

The IOC, however, have claimed that there is no evidence of Isinbayeva supporting the war in Ukraine and that she would be allowed to continue in her role.

To read "Sergey Shilov: Yelena Isinbayeva cannot pretend she is not part of the Russian system" click here.