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IAAF rejects 28 Russians for competition, approves 3

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MOSCOW (AP) — The IAAF rejected bids from 28 Russians to compete as neutral athletes on Wednesday and approved only three.

Russia was banned from all international track and field competition in 2015 amid allegations of widespread doping and a cover-up orchestrated by government officials.

Former European javelin champion Vera Rebrik, who competed for Ukraine until 2014, was approved to compete Wednesday along with 400m runner Ksenia Aksyonova and hurdler Vera Rudakova.

A total of 15 Russians have now been cleared to compete internationally as neutrals, while the IAAF has rejected 45 others.

“I’m grateful to the members of the Doping Review Board for the dedication and diligence they are giving to this on-going review process,” IAAF president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “The importance of this huge task should not be underestimated. There can be no time constraints or deadlines when the protection of clean athletes everywhere is at stake.”

Those already approved include high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene, 110m hurdles world champion Sergey Shubenkov and doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, an 800m runner.

Lasitskene recorded the biggest win yet for a neutral athlete at last week’s Diamond League meet in Eugene, Oregon, leaping 2.03 meters to take first place in the high jump.

The Russian track federation published a list of the 28 athletes who were rejected Wednesday. It didn’t include any big names, but there were some promising younger competitors such as Konstantin Kholmogorov, who ran the fastest 800-meter indoor time in Russia this year, according to IAAF records.

No reasons were given for the rejections by either the IAAF or the Russian federation.

Another 27 cases remain under review with decisions expected soon, the IAAF said. There was no update on more than 40 other applications out of the “more than 130” which the IAAF says it has received.

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IOC expects decisions on Russian doping cases next month

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Investigators at the International Olympic Committee expect to have “a number” of doping cases involving Russians at the Sochi Olympics resolved by the end of November, but they have no plans to dictate the eligibility of these athletes for next year’s Winter Games in PyeongChang.

The leader of an IOC delegation in charge of reviewing 28 cases involving athletes at Sochi wrote to the head of the IOC Athletes Commission this week to update the timeline of cases stemming from a report detailing a Russian doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics and beforehand.

Denis Oswald said that of the cases his committee is reviewing, priority has been given to those involving athletes looking to compete in PyeongChang. Top priority goes to six cross-country skiers whose provisional suspensions expire Oct. 31.

Oswald also said his committee would rule on these athletes’ results for Sochi, but will not determine their eligibility for PyeongChang, instead handing over evidence to their respective sports federations to decide.

The IOC also appointed a task force to look at the Russian doping scandal as a whole, the results of which could have wider repercussions on the country’s eligibility at next year’s Olympics.

In a separate letter sent to worldwide sports leaders, IOC President Thomas Bach said only that the Schmid Commission is continuing its evaluation and that “I hope that the IOC Executive Board will still be able to take a decision this year because none of us want this serious issue to overshadow” the upcoming Olympics.

The updates come amid a growing chorus of calls for a timely decision and for Russia’s ouster from PyeongChang.

The IOC commissions are operating off information from the McLaren Report, the first part of which was released in July 2016.

In explaining the timeline, Oswald wrote that because the Russian scheme involved exchanging dirty urine samples with clean ones, it took time to adopt methods to verify that samples had been tampered with — in part by finding evidence of scratch marks on collection bottles that had been opened and re-sealed.

“The task has not been easy in both establishing a methodology in an area in which there are no established protocols,” he wrote, “and then moving through the necessary scientific analysis of each individual sample in a way which would withstand legal challenge.”

MORE: USOC boss calls for immediate action on Russian doping

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Two-time Olympian becomes first woman to lead U.S. national swim team

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Two-time Olympian Lindsay Mintenko has been picked to lead the U.S. national swimming team. She is the first woman to hold the title.

USA Swimming made the announcement Wednesday.

Mintenko replaces Frank Busch, who retired Oct. 1 as managing director. She has been a member of the national team staff since 2006.

During her swimming career, Mintenko won gold medals as a U.S. team captain at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics 800m freestyle relay and added a silver in 2004 on the 400m freestyle relay.

USA Swimming also announced an organizational restructuring that will place all technical divisions, including the national team, under the oversight of chief operating officer Mike Unger.

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