Russia limited to 10 neutral track and field athletes at Olympics

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Russia can have no more than 10 track and field athletes, competing as neutrals, at the Tokyo Olympics.

World Athletics announced a package of sanctions Thursday in relation to Russia’s track and field federation’s doping rule-breaking. The federation was also fined $10 million. Russia has been barred from track and field since 2015 for its well-publicized doping problems.

“The package of sanctions approved by the Council today reflects the seriousness of RusAF’s wrongdoing and sends a clear message that we take these types of offenses by our Member Federations extremely seriously,” World Athletics President Seb Coe said in a press release. “We have consistently tried to separate the clean athletes from a tainted system, which is why we have reinstated the ANA [Authorized Neutral Athlete] process for athletes from Russia. … Clearly the previous measures were not enough to change the culture in Russian athletics. We hope this further measure will be sufficient to provoke real change.”

Vetted Russian athletes have been allowed to compete as neutrals — not under the Russian flag — at major competitions dating to the Rio Olympics.

One Russian track and field athlete was approved to compete as a neutral in Rio — long jumper Darya Klishina, who had been based in Florida for years and met a requirement of being subject to adequate anti-doping systems outside Russia.

In 2017, 19 Russians were entered at the world championships. In 2019, 30 Russians were entered at worlds, earning six medals, led by gold medalists high jumper Mariya Lasitskene and pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova.

In December, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from major international competition for four years, including the 2020 and 2022 Olympics, while allowing athletes to be eligible to compete as neutrals. Russia’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is ongoing.

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