Countries debate future of Russian athletes in sporting events

On Monday, World Athletics announced that six more Russian athletes have been granted a neutral status by the International Athletics Federation's Doping Review Board (DRB). The six athletes will be allowed to participate in competitions under a neutral flag once sanctions against Russia, due to the invasion of Ukraine, are lifted. The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) remains suspended.

Discussions on the future of Russian athletes have been going on for a while. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announced that it wants to let Russian and Belarusian athletes who do not support the war participate in next year's Olympic Games in Paris. "No athlete should be excluded from the competition based on their passport," an IOC executive committee said.

The United States agree. A White House spokesperson stated that it should be clear that the atletes "do not represent the Russian or Belarusian state". Ukraine, meanwhile, wants to ban all Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sporting events. After the announcement, the country called the IOC "a promoter of war, murder and destruction", and is supported by Poland and the Baltic States.

Russian athletes have been participating in events under a neutral flag since before the invasion of Ukraine. Russia has been embroiled in a major doping scandal since November 2015 and has been banned from the Olympic Games since. Last year, 73 Russian athletes were granted international status as neutral athletes by the Doping Review Board.


The neutral Russian Olympic Committee flag (l) during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. © BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM

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