May 26th 2017

Sports / Updates

Doping: Russians cleared to compete as neutrals as IAAF pursues Sumgong case

When Kenyans throw in the fact that another Kenyan Rita Jeptoo, a Boston and Chicago Marathon champion who tested positive for EPO in 2014, was also a former training partner of Sumgong’s, things become complicated.

By David JagongoWednesday, 12 Apr 2017 11:25 EAT

2016 Rio Olympics women marathon champion Jemmimah Sumgong tested positive for banned substance EPO last week.

The IAAF Doping Review Board has agreed that the applications of seven Russians have met the exceptional eligibility criteria to compete in international competition as neutral athletes, while looking into Kenya's Jemimah Sumgong's doping case. The nod the Russians got from the IAAF comes a few months after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) barred 118 Russian athletes from participating in the 2016 Summer Olympic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil following a massive doping scandal.

The decision came 118  after a two-month investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed widespread state sponsored cheating in Russia. From a Kenyan perspective, IAAF is giving the eight Russian athletes the go-ahead to compete as neutral athletes hardly a week after the 2016 Rio Olympics women marathon champion, Kenya's Jemimah Sumgong, tested positive for banned substance EPO.

Jemimah is awaiting the further action from the IAAF anti-doping authorities. When Kenyans throw in the fact that another Kenyan Rita Jeptoo, a Boston and Chicago Marathon champion who tested positive for EPO in 2014, was also a former training partner of Sumgong’s, things become complicated.

Back to the Russians, the IAAF said in a news dispatch Tuesday the Russians the Russians will compete under competition Rule 22.1A(b) while the Russian national federation (RusAF) remains suspended. The Doping Review Board, which is composed of Robert Hersh (chair), Sylvia Barlag and Antti Pihlakoski, has unanimously accepted the applications of the following athletes:

Illia Mudrov (pole vault), Sergey Shubenkov (sprint hurdles), Sergey Shirobokov (race walks), Daniil Tsyplakov (high jump), Maria Kuchina (high jump), Olga Mullina (pole vault) and race walker Yana Smerdova.

Their participation as neutral athletes in international competition is still subject to formalities for eligibility under IAAF Rules being completed and subject to acceptance of their entries by individual meeting organisers. In total this year 10 applications have been approved and 17 have been declined


Sprint hurdler Sergey Shubekov is among the 10 Russian athletes who have been cleared by the IAAF to compete as neutrals

IAAF President Sebastian Coe commented: “I wish to thank the Doping Review Board for their continued dedication and diligence in assessing these applications. "There can be no time constraints on a process which has been established to safeguard the rights and aspirations of the world’s clean athletes and is about rebuilding confidence in competition,"' he added.

"For the avoidance of any doubt as we have consistently stated from the beginning of this process, all athletes given exceptional eligibility will compete as independent neutral athletes and not as a Russian team,” said Coe, a retired athlete.

Since publication of updated guidelines under Rule 22.1A (b) earlier in the year, the IAAF has received about 100 applications from Russian athletes, 38 of which have been endorsed by their national federation RusAF. A number of these applications remain under review by the Doping Review Board in accordance with the guidelines while stored samples continue to be re-analysed and the athletes referenced in the Independent Person's report published last December continue to be assessed in consultation with experts.

A total of five Russian athletes (three in 2017 and two in 2016) have previously been declared eligible under Rule 22.1A to compete as neutral athletes and they remain eligible to compete in international competition subject to acceptance by individual meeting organisers:

(Date of announcement and athlete/event)

23 February 2017: Anzhelika Sidorova (pole vault), Kristina Sivkova (sprints), Aleksei Sokirskii (hammer throw);
9 July 2016: Darya Klishina (long jump);
1 July 2016: Yuliya Stepanova (800m/1500m).

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