MONACO (AP) — The IAAF provided new guidelines Tuesday for Russians hoping to compete in a neutral capacity while their country remains banned from track and field competitions.
The governing body of athletics said it is assessing evidence and intelligence relating to around 200 Russian athletes gathered by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.
Applications from athletes for neutral status will also be scrutinized using several criteria to prove they are clean, including:
— Whether any of their support staff, including medics and coaches, have been implicated in a doping violation;
— Whether there have been any atypical findings in doping samples or concerns about their biological passports, which are official records of athletes' blood data;
- How often they have been tested in recent years, and whether there are any gaps in their testing history;
— Whether any of their samples in storage are due to be retested.
Any athletes who are approved will be officially considered "neutral" rather than Russian for the purposes of competitions. The European indoor championships in March would be the first major event under the new rules, with the world championships in London to follow in August.
The IAAF said athletes do not necessarily have to have been tested outside of Russia — which it had demanded last year — but must have been part of a fully-compliant program for a "sufficiently long period to provide substantial objective assurance of integrity."
IAAF President Sebastian Coe said in a statement: "We continue to find ways to create parallel and credible systems of independent testing of Russian athletes so they have alternative avenues to get back in to competition."
Russian track and field federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin told the R-Sport agency that he welcomed the removal of the demand that athletes must have lived abroad, adding that up to 50 top Russians could now apply for neutral status. He did not predict how many of those 50 might fit the guidelines.
The IAAF suspended Russia from all international competitions in November 2015 after a damning World Anti-Doping Agency report alleged mass doping and cover-ups in the national track team. Since then, senior Russian track officials have received bans and more WADA reports provided further details of drug use and the swapping of tainted samples for clean ones.
Since February 2016, testing in Russia has been overseen by the British anti-doping agency because its Russian counterpart is banned from handling samples due to corruption claims.
The fallout from Russia's doping scandal meant that only one Russian, the U.S.-based long jumper Darya Klishina, was cleared to compete in track and field at last year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The IAAF confirmed to The Associated Press last month that Klishina would remain eligible for 2017 as a result of the permission she was given last year, regardless of any new rules.
The other Russian who already has neutral status is doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, who gave evidence to WADA of apparent drug use by her teammates. Stepanova competed as a neutral at last year's European championships.