No more than ten Russian track and field athletes will be able to compete in the Tokyo Olympics next summer, after the International Athletics Federation “World Athletics” restarted the licensed neutral athletes program after a meeting of its board on Thursday.
The head of the working group to study the situation of Russian athletes, Ron Andersen, said that the council decided to allow the licensed neutral athletes to return to competition again, provided that the maximum is 10 in the Olympic Games, which was postponed for a year until next summer due to the repercussions of the Corona virus.
The Licensed Neutral Athlete Program allows Russian competitors who meet strict anti-doping criteria to participate in world track and field events under a neutral flag.
The IAAF, with its new name ‘World Athletics’, temporarily suspended the licensed neutral athletes program in November 2019 as part of the suspension of the reintegration process of the Russian Athletics Federation, after accusations by the Athletics Safety Unit of the Russian Federation of helping cover up the high jump player’s evasion. Russian Daniel Lysenko from doping tests.
This decision led to the deprivation of Russian athletes, from attending this month in the European Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland.
There were 29 Russians competing as neutral athletes in the world championships that were held in Doha during the months of September and October 2019, and they won two gold, three silver and a bronze.
And Russian athletics has been in crisis since 2015, when its federation was suspended due to repeated doping scandals.
A working group consisting of independent experts headed by Andersen developed a plan to restore Russia’s membership to the International Athletics Federation.
The task force and the Russian Athletics Federation described the proposals as “a detailed road map for rebuilding confidence.”
Andersen said that the Russian Athletics Federation had begun to implement the plan, while the President of the International Athletics Federation of Britain, Sebastian Kuo, considered that re-introducing the system of licensed neutral athletes a good decision.
The Russian doping file that has poisoned the international body for more than six years has witnessed many ups and downs, but hope appeared three weeks ago with the presentation of the Russian Athletics Federation a reintegration plan, prepared with the help of three independent experts and endorsed by the International Federation after a positive opinion from the working group. .
In particular, this roadmap provides for recognition of the reprehensible acts of the past, the creation of an anti-doping department independent of the Russian Federation, the funding of more doping checks, the imposition of sanctions on Russian regions with doping problems, the encouragement of whistleblowers and greater commitment to athletes In managing their behavior.
These reforms are not an end in themselves, but rather the beginning of a long road through which the Russian Federation must do exceptional work to rebuild confidence, Kuo said.
The Russian flag has not been flown at an international athletics competition since the World Championships in Beijing in 2015. But these developments were considered by the International Federation to be serious enough to allow an examination of the fate of its athletes.
Despite the ban imposed on their country, they had the opportunity to participate in sporting events outside Russia as neutral athletes, under strict conditions to comply with anti-doping rules.
In 2016, at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, only long jump athlete Daria Klichina managed to participate under a neutral flag, but the number reached 19 Russia at the World Championships in London in 2017, and 29 two years later at the World Championships in Doha.
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