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Almost 180 Russian Athletes Apply For Neutral Status

Danil Lysenko from Russia competes as a neutral in the men's high-jump final at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham in March.

Russia's track-and-field federation, RUSAF, has received 177 applications from its athletes bidding to compete as neutrals in international competitions this year, Russian news agencies report.

"As of early January 26, we have received applications from 177 athletes, 161 of them have already been sent to the [world ruling body] IAAF," RUSAF spokeswoman Natalia Yukhareva told TASS.

Russian athletes can compete as neutrals since 2017, after RUSAF was suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2015 over doping practices in the country. These athletes must meet strict criteria such as undergoing regular doping tests outside Russia.

RUSADA, Russia's anti-doping agency, has been declared compliant again by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but the IAAF refused to readmit RUSAF for the time being.

RUSAF had filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in September against the IAAF decision to extend the ban that was imposed in November 2015 after a study commissioned by WADA found that the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes in Russia was systemic and state-sponsored.

But RUSAF withdrew the appeal on January 25 in the wake of the WADA decision to uphold RUSADA's compliance.

"I strongly believe that at the moment we need to consolidate our efforts on negotiations with IAAF regarding RUSAF’s reinstatement, instead of wasting our time and strength on court hearings," TASS quoted RUSAF President Dmitry Shlyakhtin as saying.

Based on reporting by dpa and TASS