The world governing body of athletics has approved eight Russians to compete as neutrals but has declined the applications of a further 53 competitors hoping to be awarded a similar status.

The national athletics federation of Russia (RUSAF) remains suspended as a result of systematic and widespread doping. This means that the majority of Russian athletes will miss next month’s World Championships in London. However, athletes from Russia may apply to compete as neutrals provided they meet stringent criteria.

Under IAAF guidelines, the stringent criteria includes showing they are not directly implicated in any way by failure of their natural federation to put in place adequate systems to protect and promote clean athletes.

In a statement, the International Association of Athletics Federations said it had approved 47 applications this year and rejected 109 but did not disclose names of the athletes whose applications were declined. IAAF president Sebastian Coe remarked we from the beginning have 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. The IAAF said the participation of all athletes was still subject to formalities and acceptance by individual meeting organizers.

The eight athletes who were recently permitted to compete included Sergei Litvinov, a bronze medalist at the 2014 European championships who previously competed for both Belarus and Germany. The list also includes Alayna Lutkovskaya, the 2014 junior women’s pole vault world champion, and men’s 2013 European under-23 high jump champion Ilya Ivaniuk. The latest athletes to be approved to compete as neutrals, subject to acceptance of their entries by meeting organizers, are Sergey Litvinov (hammer), Danil Lysenko (high jump), Sofia Palkina (hammer), Valery Pronkin (hammer), Vladislav Saraykin (race walk), Ekaterina Sokolenko (3,000m steeplechase).

     Ivaniuk, Pronkin, Litvinov, and Lysenko have qualified for the IAAF World Championship in London due on August 4-13.

In the past, the WADA Independent Commission carried out an investigation into activities of the All-Russia Athletics Federation, the Russian anti-doping agency, Moscow anti-doping laboratory and the Russian Sports Ministry, and announced the results of the probe in November 2015. The commission accused specific sports officials and athletes of doping abuse and involvement in other activities pertaining to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances. The work of the Russian anti-doping agency and the Moscow anti-doping laboratory was eventually suspended. The control over anti-doping regulations in Russian sports since January 2016 has been exercised by the Russian anti-doping agency strictly under the supervision of the British anti-doping agency (UKAD).

Recently, the World Anti-Doping Agency granted Russia the right for collection of doping samples under supervision. WADA permitted the Russian Anti-Doping Agency to plan doping tests and collect samples under the supervision of WADA-appointed international experts and UK Anti-Doping. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov had remarked this is a very important step toward restoring the agency’s status in compliance with the WADA charter. The partial handover of those powers demonstrates trust in the measures taken by Russia to implement the anti-doping policy.

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