Russia's national athletic federation (ARAF) has published a list of the 68 track-and-field athletes who have applied for permission to compete at next month's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro despite an Olympic ban over widespread doping and signs of Russian state involvement in thwarting such tests.
The list of applicants includes world champion hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, long-jumper Darya Klishina, and pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva.
The announcement comes as Russia faces an unprecedentedly broad ban on athletes in these Olympics, the result of multiple investigations and eyewitness accounts -- including from Russian athletes and former anti-doping officials -- asserting systematic efforts by Russian authorities to defeat the system against cheaters.
The track-and-field applications are now in the hands of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, which set up a fast track for the Russian rulings and expects to decide by July 21, just two weeks before Opening Ceremonies in Rio.
The Russian federation said its coaches were approved for the application process after those on the list "met the criteria" set out by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
After initial indications of a blanket ban on any track-and-field athletes competing under the Russian flag, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed that some athletes could compete as neutrals after certain tests, and then said other Russians could compete under the Russian flag if they were specifically cleared by the IAAF.
Alleged State Involvement
Since the IAAF and IOC affirmed their bans on competition for the Russian track athletes last month, new bans have been announced against Russia's rowers and other athletes, as well as threatened against the entire Russian weightlifting squad, in some cases based on tests of samples from previous Olympics.
A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report in November detailed widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russian track-and-field.
INFOGRAPHIC: 10 Russian Doping Tricks
The IOC is awaiting the results of dozens of retested urine samples from the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Russia's resort city of Sochi along with an investigative report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren to determine if Russian state officials were involved in covering up doping by athletes at Sochi.
McLaren said on June 17 that his findings thus far support allegations that the Russian Sports Ministry was complicit in manipulating doping tests of Russian athletes before, during, and after the world track-and-field championships in Moscow in 2013. McLaren's report is due to be made public by July 15.
Two former directors of Russia's Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), Nikita Kamayev and Vyacheslav Sinev, died less than two weeks apart in February. RUSADA said the 52-year-old Kamayev died of a heart attack after skiing, and did not elaborate on the cause of death for Sinev, 58. Kamayev had reportedly contacted a British newspaper shortly before his death offering to expose the country's development of performance-enhancing drugs.
The Summer Olympics begin on August 5 and conclude on August 21.
Host country Brazil has also been hounded by problems in the run-up to the games, including an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus that has been blamed for microencephaly in newborns from infected mothers, the suspension by last month of Rio's anti-doping lab that was to handle Olympic blood and urine samples, fiscal woes that have forced Brazil's government to step in and make some payments for the host city, and complaints of illness from infected seawater in areas where swimming and boating competitions will be held.