Russians officially out of track world championships

Track and field officials confirmed Friday that Russians will not be allowed to compete at this month’s world championships due to the war in Ukraine.

The federation banned Russians from major international events shortly after the country invaded Ukraine in February. At the time, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said the unprecedented move appeared “to be the only peaceful way to disrupt and disable Russia’s current intentions and restore peace.”

World championships begin next Friday and run through July 24.

World Athletics confirmed the ban in a news release announcing it had cleared an additional 18 Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in international competition, but that the approvals would not apply to worlds.

Those athletes were cleared as part of a protocol in the wake of a doping scandal that has left Russia’s athletics federation under suspension since 2015. At last year’s Olympics, 10 Russians were allowed in the track meet; at the world championships in 2019, 29 Russians competed.

There are now 73 Russian athletes who can compete as neutrals, though their status at major international events is in limbo due to the war.

Among those athletes is reigning Olympic and world champion high jumper Maria Lasitskene, who has never lost in an international competition. Last month, she blasted the decision in an open letter to Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, which has recommended the Russian ban.

Lasitskene’s top rivals are from Ukraine and she said “I still don’t know what to say them or how to look into their eyes.”

“They and their friends and relatives are experiencing what no one human being should ever have to feel,” she said.

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