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Athletics Governing Body Offers Ways For Russians To Compete As 'Neutral'

Darya Klishina, who is based in the United States, was the only Russian athlete allowed to compete in the Rio Olympics.

The governing body of athletics has offered new ways for athletes living in Russia to get around its global ban on competing in track and field competitions by registering as 'neutral' players.

Russians officials predicted on January 3 that the looser rules would enable 50 to 60 more athletes to compete. But the International Association of Athletics Federations warned that around 200 Russian athletes recently singled out by the World Anti-Doping Agency as suspected drug users will be closely scrutinized if they apply for such neutral status.

Still, the association's new guidelines open up the possibility for individual Russian athletes to compete in the European indoor championship in March and the world championships in August if they obtain neutral status.

Previously, few Russians could win exceptions from the global ban on competing -- only those who were drug-tested outside of Russia -- a rule which made neutrality an impossibility for the majority of athletes who live in Russia.

Only one Russian, the U.S.-based long jumper Darya Klishina, was cleared for the Rio Olympics in August.

The association is no longer demanding that testing be done outside Russia if athletes can show they participated in a fully-compliant program for a "sufficiently long period to provide substantial objective assurance of integrity."

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and TASS