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Russian, Belarusian athletes banned from track worlds barring end to war in Ukraine

Russian, Belarusian athletes banned from track worlds barring end to war in Ukraine

Russian, Belarusian athletes banned from track worlds barring end to war in Ukraine

Barring a sudden, unexpected end to the war in Ukraine, athletes from Russia and Belarus will be banned from next month’s track and field world championships, which marks the largest international sports event since the end of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

An official from World Athletics said the federation is sticking with a ban of Russians and Belarusians from its events — a policy it adopted shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, with Belarus aiding the Russian cause.

Asked about the status of the Russians for the July 12-25 world championships in Eugene, Ore. World Athletics referred The Associated Press to a March 1 statement that announced the ban. In it, federation president Sebastian Coe said the unprecedented sanctions “appear to be the only peaceful way to disrupt and disable Russia’s current intentions and restore peace.”

The three ensuing months have not brought peace, and Russian athletes have been largely absent from major competitions across the globe. The IOC recommended Russian and Belarusian athletes be excluded from international competitions and most sports have followed that advice.

Since 2015, Russia’s track federation has been under suspension as the result of a massive doping scandal that has rocked that country for the past decade. The result has been that Russian athletes who can prove they’re clean have been allowed to apply to compete as “neutral” athletes. At last year’s Olympics, 10 Russians were allowed in the track meet; at the world championships in 2019, 29 Russians competed.

But barring an unexpected change, there will be no Russians among the 1,800 or so athletes who will descend on Hayward Field in Eugene next month. The World Athletics Council meets in conjunction with the championships, though any changes it might make at that meeting would almost certainly be too late to allow the Russians into the event.

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