IAAF issues guidelines on Russian track athletes bidding for Olympics

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MONACO (AP) — The IAAF issued guidelines for Russian track and field athletes seeking “exceptional” dispensation to compete in the upcoming Olympics, insisting again Wednesday that they could do so as “neutral” athletes and not under their national flag.

Track and field’s governing body has been at odds with the International Olympic Committee, which says any Russian athletes approved by the IAAF would compete under their national banner at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Last Friday, the IAAF upheld its ban on Russian track and field athletes because of systematic doping, but also passed a rule change that allows some athletes to apply to compete in special circumstances.

The IAAF said a limited number of Russian athletes, perhaps a handful, would fall into that category.

The federation said Wednesday that the guidelines cover “any individual athletes who can clearly and convincingly show that they are not tainted by the Russian system because they have been outside the country and subject to other effective anti-doping systems.”

Those athletes “should be able to apply for permission to compete in international competitions, not for Russia but as a neutral athlete,” the IAAF said.

The release of the guidelines poses a further challenge to the IOC, which said Tuesday that the IAAF has no say on which flags athletes compete under at the Olympics.

The IOC said it backed the IAAF’s decision to maintain the ban on the Russian track federation. However, IOC President Thomas Bach said Tuesday that any athletes approved by the IAAF would come under the control of the Russian Olympic Committee and compete under the national flag.

Bach’s statement opened a crack in what had meant to be a united front on Russia. World Anti-Doping Agency President Craig Reedie, who is also an IOC vice president, came out publicly Wednesday in support of the IAAF and against the IOC on the flag issue.

The IAAF guidelines on the Russians will first apply at the European Championships in Amsterdam from July 6-10. The Rio Games run from Aug. 5-21.

“We know there are some Russian athletes considering applying to compete in international competitions under this new rule so it is important that they are clear about the criteria under which their application will be received,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe said.

Russian officials and athletes have said they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on grounds that “clean” athletes are being unfairly excluded because of the violations of others.

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