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Olympic chief calls participation in IAAF events under neutral flag 'discrimination'

April 12, 19:44 UTC+3

The IAAF announced on April 11 its decision to grant the right for seven Russian track and field athletes to take part in the international competitions as neutral athletes

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MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) made a positive decision allowing certain Russian athletes to compete in international competitions, but the requirement of a neutral flag was discriminatory, Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said on Wednesday.

"The fact that they (Russian track and field athletes) have been allowed to compete is a positive step," Zhukov said. "However, I cannot understand a requirement of a neutral flag as everyone would be aware that they are the athletes from Russia."

The IAAF announced on Tuesday its decision to grant the right for seven Russian track and field athletes to take part in the international competitions as neutral athletes. Among the cleared athletes are Sergey Shubenkov, the 2015 World Champion in men’s 110 meters hurdles, and Maria Kuchina, the 2015 World Champion in women’s high jump.

Commenting on the decision, IAAF President Sebastian Coe said: "For the avoidance of any doubt as we have consistently stated from the beginning of this process, all athletes given exceptional eligibility will compete as independent neutral athletes and not as a Russian team."

"Although the athletes were given the green light to participate, I view it as discrimination (to compete under neutral flag). Why would anyone need this," the ROC president stated.

"All the necessary assistance, including the financial support, will be provided for them," Zhukov added.

The other five Russian athletes cleared by the IAAF on Tuesday for the participation in international events are Illia Mudrov (pole vault), Sergey Shirobokov (race walk), Daniil Tsyplakov (high jump), Olga Mullina (pole vault) and Yana Smerdova (race walk).

The IAAF stated on Tuesday, however, that in a total of ten applications from the suspended Russian athletes had been approved while 17 more had been declined.

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