Yelena Isinbayeva won three women's pole vault golds with Russia at the World Athletics Championships ©Getty Images

The absence of three-time world champion Yelena Isinbayeva from a World Athletics feature covering influential women at the World Championships has sparked a backlash in Russia.

Isinbayeva is considered the greatest female pole-vaulter of all time with Olympic golds at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 and world titles at Helsinki in 2005, Osaka in 2007 and Moscow in 2013.

Her 5.06 metres cleared in Zürich in 2009 remains a world record.

She was a notable omission from a list of 40 women celebrated by World Athletics for their impact on the sport since the inaugural World Championships in 1983.

World Athletics stressed the list was "by no means exhaustive" but "serves to highlight some of the trailblazers in a sport that has developed dramatically during the past 40 years".

Isinbayeva also failed to make the long list of the greatest moments at the World Championships, from which the public selected their top 40.

The now-retired 41-year-old is a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who has been allowed to continue in her role and is set to resume work on the Athletes' Commission next month despite the war in Ukraine and alleged links to the Russian military and the Kremlin.

Former Russian high jumper Anna Chicherova, who won Olympic gold at London 2012 but was stripped of her bronze at Beijing 2008 for doping, was among those who criticised Isinbayeva's omission.

She noted that no Russian athletes were included in the list of 40 female athletes.

"It’s just funny to me that not a single one of our athletes is on this list," Chicherova told Russian state-run news agency TASS.

"There is no dispute, very worthy athletes are included in it, but the same Lena Isinbayeva has already made a much greater contribution than Stacy Dragila."

Dragila of the United States won back-to-back pole vault golds at the World Championships in Seville in 1999 and Edmonton in 2001, either side of an Olympic triumph at Sydney 2000.

Mariya Lasitskene was another high-profile Russian athlete absent from the list, which World Athletics stressed was
Mariya Lasitskene was another high-profile Russian athlete absent from the list, which World Athletics stressed was "by no means exhaustive" ©Getty Images

The Athens 2004 men's 800 metres Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia also noted the absence of compatriot Mariya Lasitskene, the Tokyo 2020 women's high jump gold medallist and three-time world champion.

"The absence of Russian women in the list of the 40 strongest athletes of the world championships who have made the greatest contribution to the development of our sport makes me surprised," Borzakovsky told TASS.

"I do not detract from the merits of all the athletes on this list, but I think that the same and Maria Lasitskene, who won three World Championship golds, which no one else could do in their disciplines, deserve recognition by the International Federation no less."

Tamara Bykova, who won women's high jump gold at the first World Championships in 1983, claimed "I doubt that Masha Lasitskene, together with Lena Isinbayeva, can be deleted from the history of World Athletics, no matter how hard someone tries".

Russian State Duma deputy Dmitry Svishchev directly criticised World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.

"I think that Coe and the veterans who lead the federation and determine this list on a national basis should carefully study the history of athletics, open competition ratings, encyclopaedias," he told TASS.

"We are not talking about the lists of the strongest athletes only in Great Britain or the USA?"

insidethegames has asked World Athletics for a comment on the criticism.

The decorated list of 40 athletes included four-time shot put world champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand, now World Athletics Athletes' Commission deputy chairperson, Ethiopia's two-time 5,000m and three-time 10,000m world champion Tirunesh Dibaba, Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who has won 10 World Championships and three Olympic golds, and Kenya's two-time world and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon.

Russian IOC member Yelena Isinbayeva, right, has faced scrutiny since the start of the war in Ukraine for alleged ties to the Kremlin ©Getty Images
Russian IOC member Yelena Isinbayeva, right, has faced scrutiny since the start of the war in Ukraine for alleged ties to the Kremlin ©Getty Images

Los Angeles 1984 400m hurdles Olympic champion Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco, who is now an IOC Executive Board member, and Canada's Abby Hoffman also featured on the list as the first two women elected to the 27-member World Athletics Council in 1995.

World Athletics last week celebrated reaching gender equity on the Council with 13 men and 13 women.

Under the leadership of Coe, an IOC member in Britain, World Athletics has taken a more hard-line stance than most International Federations against Russia and Belarus in response to the war in Ukraine.

While the IOC lifted its recommendations for an outright ban on athletes from both countries in March, World Athletics has maintained it approach, and there are no Russian or Belarusian competitors at the World Championships here in Budapest.

Coe has insisted he is "not neutral" in the war and received praise for his stance from many observers, but Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov has led accusations he has pursued a "consistent Russophobic policy".

The Russian Athletics Federation had also been suspended for most of Coe's Presidency since 2015 because of the state-sponsored doping scandal, before it was reinstated in March.

Coe said he was proud to have "have always been able to stand behind a process" through a Task Force led by Norway's Rune Andersen, which held its final meeting last week.

Isinbayeva has previously supported Russian President Vladimir Putin and was placed on Ukraine's sanctions list following the start of the war.

She has often been pictured in military uniform which prompted criticism of the IOC for failing to suspend her, but has claimed promotions were "nominal" and she has "never been in the service of the armed forces".