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IAAF Maintains Team Ban On Russia Over Doping, Allows More 'Neutral' Competitors

Russian athletics chief President Dmitry Shlyakhtin voiced disappointment over the continuation of the IAAF ban.
Russian athletics chief President Dmitry Shlyakhtin voiced disappointment over the continuation of the IAAF ban.

The governing body of world athletics, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has maintained Russia's ban from international athletics over mass doping, although it will allow at least some athletes to compete as “neutrals.”

The decision came just 10 days ahead of the start of the European Championships in Berlin.

Russia has been suspended from international athletics since November 2015 after a report discovered widespread doping.

"The IAAF Council unanimously adopted the resolution that RUSAF (the Russian athletics federation) not be reinstated at this time," said Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF's Russian task force team, on July 27.

Andersen, however, said there had been "a lot of meaningful engagement from RUSAF," which has made "significant improvement" in meeting reinstatement requirements.

In a separate statement released late on July 27, the IAAF said two further Russian athletes have met the “exceptional eligibility criteria” to compete in 2018 in international competition as neutrals.

The statement identified the two as Yegor Nikolaev, who competes in the 1,500-meter run, and Aleksandr Skorobogatko in the 400-meter event.

While blocking Russia to compete as a team, international sporting authorities have allowed some athletes to participate in events as neutrals.

The IAAF said that 74 Russian athletes have so far been declared eligible to compete as “Authorized Neutral Athletes” in 2018. It added that 68 applications have been denied.

Some Russian athletes were allowed to take part in the Rio and Pyeongchang Olympics as neutrals.

The IAAF's Andersen said three demands must be met for Russia to be fully reinstated after a meeting in September of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

RUSAF must pay for the costs incurred by the IAAF in the wake of the doping scandal; the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) must be reinstated by WADA, with a key requirement being the acknowledgement by Moscow that officials from the Ministry of Sports were behind the doping program; finally, Russian authorities must give access to doping tests carried out at RUSADA's Moscow laboratory between 2011-15.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe added: "Progress has been made in key areas. There are still some gaps to be filled."

Russian athletics federation President Dmitry Shlyakhtin voiced disappointment.

"We were counting on a positive decision, on a partial restoration of the Russian athletics federation. Sadly, this hasn't happened," Shlyakhtyn said.

"We will continue, however, to work towards the restoration of the federation."

Russian leaders have repeatedly denied state involvement in doping.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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