IAAF clears 2 Russian world champions, 5 others to compete

MONACO (AP) — Two world champions are among seven Russian athletes who were approved by track and field’s governing body on Tuesday to compete internationally while their country remains banned for doping.

The IAAF so far has approved 12 Russians in total to compete as neutrals, with 10 of those approvals coming this year.

The new list includes 110-meter hurdler Sergei Shubenkov and high jumper Maria Kuchina. Both won gold medals at the 2015 world championships in Beijing and could defend their titles in London in August.

To be approved, athletes must show an IAAF doping review panel they have been adequately tested for drugs over a lengthy period by non-Russian agencies.

However, the IAAF said the athletes were still “subject to acceptance of their entries by individual meeting organizers,” such as the Diamond League series. The 14-meet circuit opens on May 5 in Doha, Qatar.

Shubenkov is set to be in demand as the world champion, worlds bronze medalist in 2013 and two-time European champion.

Shubenkov and Kuchina, a past world and European indoor champion, were unable to compete at the European indoors in Serbia last month while their cases were under review.

“There can be no time constraints on a process which has been established to safeguard the rights and aspirations of the world’s clean athletes and is about rebuilding confidence in competition,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe said in a statement.

Kuchina is set to compete as Maria Lasitskene after getting married.

“I’m as pleased as it’s possible to be in this situation,” she told Russian agency R-Sport. “This was always our legal right. This should not have had to happen.”

The IAAF said the other approved athletes were: high jumper Daniil Tsyplakov, who placed fifth at the 2015 worlds, pole vaulters Illia Mudrov and Olga Mullina, and race walkers Sergey Shirobokov and Yana Smerdova.

The 18-year-old Shirobokov, who won the Russian title in February, comes from Russia’s main race-walk training center in the city of Saransk, which has been linked to more than 25 doping cases.

Its former head coach Viktor Chegin was banned for life last year for his involvement in various doping cases, though the center continues to operate under another name, with several of Chegin’s former associates as coaches.

The IAAF previously cleared three Russians to compete as neutrals last month — pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova, sprinter Kristina Sivakova and hammer thrower Alexei Sokirsky.

Russia was banned from athletics at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but two athletes were approved to compete: Middle-distance runner Yulia Stepanova, a key whistleblower of Russia’s doping program, and long jumper Darya Klishina, the only Russian who took part in Rio track and field.

The names of 17 athletes whose applications were rejected this year by the review panel have not been published, the IAAF said, adding it received about 100 applications. Only 38 of those were endorsed by the Russian Athletics Federation, which remains suspended by the IAAF.

Russian officials on Tuesday named some of those refused by the IAAF, mostly lower-level athletes with little hope of winning medals at major championships.


This story has been corrected to show the competition which many Russian athletes missed in March was the European indoor championships, not the world indoor championships.