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World Indoor Athletics Championships Begin With Russia Absent

World champion pole vaulter, Yelena Isinbayeva, will not be competing in the World Indoor Athletics Championships this week.

The world indoor athletics championships are beginning today in the U.S. city of Portland with no Russians and the sport engulfed in a doping crisis.

Doping scandals involving Russia, one of the top track and field nations, as well as Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes will weigh heavily on the March 17-20 competition featuring 600 athletes from 150 countries.

Russia, which traditionally battles with the United States to be the sport's dominant force, was banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations after a World Anti-Doping Agency probe last year uncovered evidence of widespread, state sponsored-doping.

The absence of Russian athletes will be felt during the first day of competition as the women's pole vault will take place without Russian double Olympic champion and outdoor world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva.

Isinbayeva's absence denies the championships a showdown between the Russian and American world indoor pole vault record holder and current Olympic champion Jenn Suhr.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on March 16 that he hoped Russia would be reinstated by May, in time to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and TASS