IAAF clears three Russians to compete as neutral athletes

Anzhelika Sidorova
Pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova won gold at the European Indoor Championships in 2015

Three Russian athletes have been cleared to return to competition by the IAAF's doping review board.

Pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova, sprinter Kristina Sivkova and hammer thrower Aleksei Sokirskii all met the "exceptional eligibility criteria".

Russia's athletics federation remains suspended from international competition after claims of state-sponsored doping.

Sidorova, Sivkova and Sokirskii would compete as neutral athletes.

Their participation in competitions is still subject to approval by the organisers of individual events.

The three could compete in the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade and European Throwing Cup next month.

Long jumper Darya Klishina and sprinter Yulia Stepanova had previously been declared eligible and will remain so.

The IAAF has received 48 applications from Russian athletes to compete independently, 28 of which were endorsed by Russia's athletics federation.

In a statement, the IAAF said six applications had been declined, but did not give the names of the athletes in question.

Russian officials say they do not expect any more of their athletes to be cleared for the European Indoors as they expect the remaining rulings "no earlier than the middle of March".

IAAF president Lord Coe said: "The application process to compete internationally as neutral athletes is about our desire to support the hopes and aspirations of all clean athletes including Russian athletes who have been failed by their national system.

"While prioritising applications based upon the entry deadlines of the competitions concerned, the primary responsibility of the doping review board must always be to safeguard the integrity of competition."

Before last summer's Olympic Games in Rio, the governing body outlined "strict criteria" any Russian athletes must meet if they wanted to take part in the Games.

Only US-based Klishina was able to meet the criteria - and she entered as a neutral.

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