A national ban was imposed in 2015 across the board for Russian athletes over a doping controversy.
Now, hundreds of Russian athletes have been submitting individual applications to the IAAF, in an attempt to gain permission to compete as ‘neutral athletes’.
The applications, if granted, would enable the Russian-born athletes to compete outside of their national umbrella, representing no country on a ‘neutral’ ground in order to uphold the national ban.
In 2015, a whistleblower alerted the World Anti-Doping Agency to a huge, decade-long controversy within the IAAF. It revealed that, per blood test records for competitions between 2001 and 2012, roughly one third of athletic individuals who medaled during that span boasted ‘suspicious’ test results. The result of the scandal was a ban on Russian athletes by the IAAF, which was upheld for the Rio Olympics and will extend to the London Worlds.
AP reports that the IAAF has received around 120 applications from Russian athletes to compete as neutral athletes, though, and they’re going through the applications on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they’ll grant permission.
So far, the federation has confirmed that they’ve given 12 athletes permission to compete under the neutral grounds, while they’ve denied another 17. In the coming weeks, they’ll review dozens more of the currently existing applications, citing that they’ll review ‘approximately 50 percent’ of the remaining requests.
Each request will be thoroughly reviewed using a lengthy process, which includes re-testing, examinations of previous tests, and consultation from WADA investigator Richard McLaren in order to determine if the athlete in question was at all involved in the cover-up by Russian labs. If the athlete benefitted in any way from the controversy, their application is unlikely to get approved.