Olga Zabelinskaya was resigned to leaving the Olympic Games before they started following the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban all Russian athlete's with past doping infractions from competing in Rio. The 36-year-old Russian won bronze in the road race and time trial at the 2012 London Games but in 2014, tested positive for octopamine but denied any wrong doing. In February 2016, she accepted an 18-month suspension which expired in September 2015, leaving her free to compete in the Rio Games only for the Russian Federation to withdraw her in late-July.
"Five of August I had my ticket to go to Russia, 2 o'clock in the day and 11 o'clock they tell me I stay here and I was on the way to the airport," Zabelinskaya said to reporters. "In the morning they told us we participate, in the evening they say that we don't. It was two weeks like this, in the morning we go, in the evening we don't."
Cleared to race, Zabelinskaya head out onto the 29.8km Pontal course and set the fastest time to occupy the hotseat before American Kristin Armstrong bettered her time by five seconds for her third straight gold medal.
There was little focus on her performance in her post-race press conference, due the circumstances surrounding her participation, although she stated that "I'm happy but of course I'm disappointed because I needed five seconds (for gold) but anyway (I'm happy) to get any medal."
Forthright questioning from the press, including if Zabelinskaya had ever doped was met with the Russian replying, "No, I never in my life".
Zabelinskaya explained that she was in Costa Rica at the time of the positive test for octopamine, and provided further information regarding her case with CAS and the UCI in an attempt to clarify her ban.
"I am clean for myself, for my kids, for everything, when I got this problem with doping, I had my third child and I breastfeeded in this time," Zabelinskaya said. "Any mother knows if you breastfeed you can't take any medicine."
"My problem was not actually the problem, I didn't go to the CAS because I didn't have time for this," she said. "We have an agreement with the UCI that I accept this ban.
"They find one octopamine, it's produced (in the) body, when you have some disease, it's seafood ... from this. We prove this with the biological and everything, and I didn't have time to go ahead with the (CAS) because I had to race, and if I don't race I don't get to go to the Olympics."
She added that there is no lingering ill-will from the governing body and she is simply focused on racing her bike.
"If I go with the CAS or go to race, I prefer to race and now I have this problem. I don't accept, I just accept because it passed. We had an agreement with the UCI that I accept this ban and they don't have any aggression with me."
Zabelinskaya joined BePink in March of this year, with a stage win at the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen her standout result prior to the claiming silver. Zabelinskaya's turned professional in 2001 with Carpe Diem–Itera having been junior world champion on the road and track in 1997 but pulled the pin on her career in 2006 having skipped the 2004 Olympics for have her first child. She returned to the sport in 2010-11 with Safi-Pasta Zara, winning the Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen, before moving onto RusVelo between 2012 and 2014.