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Seven More Russian Athletes Allowed To Compete As ‘Neutrals’

The International Association of Athletics Federations, the world governing body of track and field, has cleared seven Russian athletes to compete under neutral flag.

The list published on the IAAF website included 110m hurdles runner Sergey Shubenkov and high jumper Mariya Kuchina – both gold medalists at the 2015 World Championships. Others include Ilya Mudrov (pole vault), Sergey Shirobokov (race walks), Daniil Tsyplakov (high jump), Olga Mullina (pole vault), and Yana Smerdova (race walking).

These athletes, to regain eligibility, must show the IAAF Doping Review Board that they have passed anti-doping tests outside of Russia over an extended period of time.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe remarked he wishes to thank the Doping Review Board for their continued dedication and diligence in assessing these applications. Coe also commented that there can be no time constraints on a process that has been established to safeguard the rights and aspirations of the world’s clean athletes. The IAAF president also said we for the avoidance of any doubt have consistently stated from the beginning of this process, all athletes given exceptional eligibility will compete as independent neutral athletes and not as a Russian team.

Coe had remarked in the past Russian athletes won’t be able to represent their country at international competitions at least until November. In February this year, the world track and field governing body extended disqualification of the Russia's athletics federation (RUSAF), prolonging sanctions originally implemented in November 2015 in the wake of a doping scandal in Russian sport.

The IAAF, in total since the beginning of this year, has cleared 10 Russian athletes to compete, while 17 applications have been declined. The IAAF is believed to have received over 80 applications.

In the past, a total of five Russian athletes (three in 2017 and two in 2016) have previously been declared eligible under Rule 22.1A to compete as neutral athletes and they remain eligible to compete in international competition subject to acceptance by individual meeting organizers. These include Anzhelika Sidorova (pole vault), Kristina Sivkova (sprints), Aleksei Sokirskii (hammer throw), Darya Klishina (long jump), and Yuliya Stepanova (800m/1500m).

Mariya won her first international medal at the 2009 World Youth Championships in Athletics where she took the silver medal behind Italian Alessia Trost. She was also the silver medalist at the 2009 European Youth Olympic Festival and 2009 Gymnasiade. Kuchina won a gold medal in the girls' high jump in the inaugural Summer Youth Olympics ahead of Alessia Trost. She later cleared 1.97 m to claim the world junior indoor best which Desislava Aleksandrova had held since 1994. The Russian high jump athlete also won the gold medal both at the 2014 World Indoor Championships and at the 2015 European Indoor Championships. She had also won the silver medal at the 2014 European Championships.

Shubenkov is the 2015 World Champion, two-time European Champion (2014, 2012) and 2013 World bronze medalist in men's 110 m hurdles. He went on to win the European under-23 title in 2011 and won his first major European title at the 2012 European Championships in 110 m hurdles.

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Albert Wolfgang
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