In wake of Russian doping scandal, seven more athletes allowed to compete as 'neutrals'

Seven more Russian track athletes — including two world champions — have been cleared to compete internationally as “neutrals” while their national team remains under a blanket ban.

The seven join five others who were previously approved by the international track federation.

The specially created waiver “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 Tuesday. “For the avoidance of any doubt as we 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.”

Their team was banned from international competition in late 2015 amid a doping scandal that has ensnared athletes, coaches and officials in multiple sports throughout the country.

The federations that govern each sport have, for the most part, been left to decide who may or may not compete. A large portion of the Russian contingent was not allowed to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The IAAF said it has received about 100 applications from Russians seeking to compete as neutrals.

The latest approvals included 110-meter hurdler Sergey Shubenkov and high jumper Maria Kuchina, who both won gold at the 2015 world championships.

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

“I am glad that the competition will finally be big and real,” Kuchina told R-Sport. “I’m happy as much as possible in this situation.”

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