11 Jul 2016

Russian athletes' neutral bid turned down

11:56 am on 11 July 2016

Applications from 67 Russian athletes to compete internationally as "neutral" individuals at the Rio Olympics, following a blanket ban on the country's track and field athletes for systematic doping, have been turned down.

Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia celebrates after winning. Note: she is not implicated in the latest doping claims.

Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic pole vault champion, has suffered another blow in her attempts to compete in Rio Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) said it was informed by the sport's world governing IAAF that only one application had been approved, from long jumper Darya Klishina, out of 68 requests made.

"The rest of the 67 athletes who have been approved by the ARAF's board as they have fulfilled the federation's criteria to compete in the Olympics have been refused," ARAF said.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) suspended Russia's track and field athletes last year after a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report uncovered systematic state-sponsored doping in the country.

The ban was extended last month, which ruled Russia's athletes out of next month's Rio Olympics, although ARAF has appealed against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS is due to rule on the case by 21 July.

Individual Russian athletes, however, could apply to the IAAF for exemptions to compete as a "neutral athlete" if they could prove they were not involved in the system and were subjected to drug tests outside the country.

However, the 25-year-old Klishina, who finished 10th in the long jump at last year's world championships in Beijing, was the only one of the 68 athletes approved by ARAF who has been cleared by the IAAF to compete internationally as a "neutral".

Klishina's was one of 136 appeals to the IAAF under the neutral athlete provisions and most of the applications had been reviewed, the IAAF had said on Saturday.

Russian doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova's application to compete as an individual was accepted by the IAAF on 1 July.

She competed in the 800m at the European Athletics Championships on Wednesday although she pulled up injured.

The former drug cheat's revelations helped expose the massive doping problem in her country and she left Russia and went into hiding after disclosing the issue.

She is still waiting to hear from the International Olympic Committee whether she can participate in the Rio Games.

ARAF said it would carry on fighting against the IAAF's decisions and added that the country's athletes were continuing to prepare for the Olympics, which start on 5th August.

"The ARAF will use all legal possibilities in order that Russian athletes will get the chance to take part in the Olympics."