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Russia Enters 19 Exempt Athletes For World Championships Despite Doping Ban

Russia has planned to send 19 athletes to the track and field World Championships in London despite the country being suspended from international competition for widespread doping.

It was remarked by Russian Athletics Federation director Elena Orlova that it has also filed paperwork for doping whistleblower and 800-meter runner Yulia Stepanova besides the 19 athletes. Orlova added the federation is not in contact with Yulia and believes she does not intend to compete.

The 19 athletes, including three former world champions, have been given exemptions from the suspension of Russia after the world governing body of athletics reviewed their history of drug testing.

Sergey Shubenkov leads the charge for men of Russia as he tries to conquer a second world title in the 110-meter hurdles. Maria Lasitskene is the overwhelming favorite to retain her high jump title after enjoying an unbeaten season in the Diamond League. Lasitskene has leaped over 2 meters this year at 11 different competitions and no other woman has been able to achieve this feat.

A total of 38 Russians had exemptions that could have allowed them to compete at the World Championships but many did not make the qualifying standards. The Russian anthem would not be played if these officially "neutral athletes'' under IAAF rules win gold. They would also not be allowed to wear national colors.

The IAAF recently accepted the applications of Sergei Litvinov, a bronze medalist at the 2014 European championships who in the past competed for both Belarus and Germany. The list also includes men's 2013 European under-23 high jump champion Ilya Ivaniuk and Alayna Lutkovskaya, the 2014 junior women's pole vault world champion. The participation of these athletes was still subject to formalities and acceptance by individual meeting organizers.

Under the IAAF guidelines, Russian athletes can, however, apply to compete as neutrals if they can show that they are not directly implicated in any way by their national federation's failure to put in place adequate systems to protect and promote clean athletes. In the past, IAAF President Sebastian Coe had remarked we have from the beginning declared this process was about supporting the hopes and aspirations of all clean athletes, including Russian athletes who have been failed by their national system.

In another development, Canadian lawyer and WADA-sanctioned investigator Richard McLaren has remarked it is his belief that Russia operates a system of doping cover-ups for football players that is different from the one that was mentioned in his previous reports that led to an Olympics ban for Russia. McLaren said there are 155 samples that were seized by the World Anti-Doping Agency and are awaiting analysis and commented that gives rise to a suspicion that there is a bank of clean samples and that it is been used with respect to footballers.

FIFA, the world governing body of football, remarked that the doping test of every player for the Brazil 2014 World Cup had in fact returned negative results. It said all players participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup – including all members of the Russian squad – underwent pre-competition and post-match tests, all of which were negative.

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Albert Wolfgang
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