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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Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

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Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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