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Eight Russian track and field athletes added to RUSADA’s Testing Pool

Commenting on her inclusion in RUSADA’s extended Testing Pool, Russia’s three-time world champion in high jump Maria Lasitskene told TASS that it was ‘a bad sign’

MOSCOW, January 23. /TASS/. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has added eight more national track and field athletes to the list of its Testing Pool upon a request from World Athletics, RUSADA Deputy Director General Margarita Pakhnotskaya told TASS on Thursday.

"Eight track and field athletes have been added to the extended list of RUSADA’s Testing Pool for the first quarter of 2020 and they are also on the list of the International Testing Pool," Pakhnotskaya said in an interview with TASS.

"We are speaking here about Maria Lasitskene, Sergei Shubenkov, Anzhelika Sidorova, Ilya Shkurenev, Timur Morgunov, Mikhail Akimenko, Ilya Ivanyuk and Vasily Mizinov," she continued. "We have included these athletes in our Testing Pool based on a request from World Athletics."

"The International Testing Pool is in the priority regarding RUSADA’s extended Testing Pool and this is why the athletes at the issue must be providing all the required information, first of all, in line with the regulations of the international federation," Pakhnotskaya added.

Commenting on the news about her inclusion in RUSADA’s extended Testing Pool, Russia’s three-time world champion in high jump Maria Lasitskene told TASS that it was ‘a bad sign’ and that a permission for her neutral-status participation in international tournaments can be now postponed indefinitely.

"I am under a constant control of anti-doping services, and the last time they paid a visit to me was during my birthday celebrations," she said in an interview with TASS. "Ongoing doping control tests and my presence on the International Testing Pool have been inspiring me with a slight hope that someday I would be cleared for international tournaments."

"But today I have been included in the extended list of RUSADA’s Testing Pool," Lasitskene continued. "It seems to me that all of this was done to exclude me from the International Testing Pool. It was done on purpose."

"However, I fully trust RUSADA, which conducts thorough doping tests of athletes, but this move was done on purpose," the 27-year-old athlete added.

Last September, Lasitskene won gold in high jump at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Qatar’s Doha becoming the first-ever female athlete to win three world championships in high jump (2015, 2017, 2019).

Three more female athletes won the world championships in high jump twice and they are South Africa’s Hestrie Cloete (2001, 2003), Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic (2007, 2009) and Bulgaria’s Stefka Kostadinova (1987, 1995), who also holds the high jump world record of 2 meters and nine centimeters.

In October, Lasitskene was named by the European Athletic Association (EAA) as the 2019 Women’s European Athlete of the Year.

World Athletics, which was previously known as the International Association of Athletics Federations or IAAF, suspended RusAF’s (the All-Russia Athletics Federation) membership in late 2015 following a chain of doping abuse scandals in Russia’s track and field sports. Only one Russian track and field athlete was allowed to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil — Russia’s long jumper Daria Klishina.

The World Athletics Council announced on November 22, 2019 its decision to suspend RusAF’s reinstatement process based on charges brought by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

According to World Athletics, the AIU charged RusAF on November 21, 2019 "with obstructing an investigation and provisionally suspended several senior federation officials for tampering and complicity."

The suspension of Russia’s governing athletics body has been ruled to remain in force 12 times since its introduction in 2015 with the most recent decision made on September 23, before the start of the 2019 World Championships in Qatar’s Doha on September 27-October 6.

World Athletics allowed clean athletes from Russia to participate in international tournaments under the neutral status or the Authorized Neutral Athlete (ANA) until the membership of the RusAF is reinstated. The ANA status prohibits Russian athletes from participating in all international track and field tournaments under the national flag.