IAAF says it has received more than 80 applications from Russian athletes seeking “exceptional eligibility” to compete in an individual capacity following continued suspension of RusAF as an IAAF Member
Russian 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova is now eligible to compete internationally as an independent neutral athlete, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has announced.
The IAAF Doping Review Board, which comprises Robert Hersh as chair, Sylvia Barlag and Antti Pihlakoski, “unanimously accepted” Stepanova’s application under Competition Rule 22.1A(c) “as someone having made a truly exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport”, the sport’s world governing body said.
Although the IAAF says Stepanova (pictured above competing under her maiden name Rusanova in 2011) is now eligible to compete internationally, it states that her participation is still subject to acceptance by the organiser of the competition in question.
The decision comes after the IAAF upheld the suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) as an IAAF Member at an IAAF Council meeting in Vienna on June 17.
The suspension means that athletes remain banned from competing for Russia in international events, however a rule amendment left an opportunity for Russians to apply to compete at the Rio Olympic Games and other international competitions as “neutral” athletes.
The IAAF says it has now received more than 80 applications from Russian athletes seeking “exceptional eligibility” to compete in an individual capacity. That comes under a separate provision in Competition Rule 22.1A(b), namely on the basis that they are not tainted by RUSAF’s failure to put in place adequate anti-doping systems because they have been subject to other, fully adequate systems outside of the country for a sufficiently long period to provide a substantial assurance of integrity.
“Ms Stepanova’s participation as a neutral athlete in international competition is still subject to acceptance by the organiser of the competition in question, in accordance with the rules of that competition,” the IAAF said in a statement.
“The IAAF has immediately informed European Athletics of Ms Stepanova’s eligibility given that the European Athletics Championships will take place in Amsterdam in less than a week (6-10 July). Other international events organisers will receive similar notification of Ms Stepanova’s eligibility later today.”
Stepanova turned whistleblower after receiving a ban for abnormalities with her biological passport. She subsequently moved to Germany and then North America with her husband and fellow whistleblower Vitaly, a former official in the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.
European Athletics confirmed if Stepanova competes in Amsterdam she will do so under the European Athletics flag. It said: “Along with IAAF, European Athletics recognises Stepanova’s exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport.”