Russians fear missing European indoors over doping reviews

MOSCOW (AP) Russian competitors and officials fear they will miss another major athletics championship because they believe the IAAF is too slow in approving a partial lifting of its doping ban.

The IAAF says it will allow some Russians to compete in the European indoor championships as ”neutral athletes,” rather than under the Russian flag, if they can show they have undergone regular drug testing independent of the suspended Russian testing agency, and aren’t implicated in an alleged doping cover-up.

However, with the championships just 10 days away in Serbia, the IAAF hasn’t issued any rulings on 44 applications from Russians such as the 2015 world high jump champion Maria Kuchina.

She said on Tuesday she’s ”ready to travel any day,” but her coach Gennady Gabrilyan admitted he and Kuchina were exasperated by the wait.

”We want to shout loudly now, but instead of that we jump,” Gabrilyan said.

Russian Athletics Federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin said that of the 44 applications, 33 had the support of the federation. The remaining 11 athletes have run into problems, either because they were implicated in doping or because their results weren’t good enough for them to compete at major competitions, Shlyakhtin said, without naming any of those affected.

With limited time remaining until the championships, ”we know we might have to get all hands on deck” to ensure Russian athletes have the accommodation, equipment, and support they need to travel to Belgrade at short notice, Shlyakhtin added.

Russia was suspended from all international athletics in November 2015 over widespread drug use, and was unable to send a track and field team to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The only Russian allowed to compete was U.S.-based long jumper Darya Klishina. She and doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova are the only Russians so far granted permission to compete as neutrals.