Russia says no more athletes approved for European indoors

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian track and field officials say they don't expect any more of their athletes to be allowed to compete at the European indoor championships next week.

The IAAF allowed three Russians — pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova, sprinter Kristina Sivakova and hammer thrower Alexei Sokirsky — on Thursday to start competing as neutral athletes exempt from the country's doping ban.

None of those three appear likely to compete at the championships for various reasons, meaning U.S.-based long jumper Darya Klishina is the only confirmed Russian.

The IAAF said it refused six other applications, but didn't say when the remaining 39 applications would be decided.

However, the Russian Athletics Federation says it expects the remaining rulings "no earlier than the middle of March."

That means top Russians like high jump world champion Maria Kuchina and 110-meter hurdles world champion Sergei Shubenkov will miss the European indoors in Serbia from March 3-5.

It doesn't seem as if any of the three who were approved will compete at the championships, since 2015 European indoor champion Sidorova is focusing on preparations for the summer, while Sivakova's coach told Russian agency R-Sport on Friday that she was ill and unable to race. The hammer throw isn't held at indoor events, though Sokirsky could compete at the European Throwing Cup next month in Spain.

In order to compete as neutrals, athletes have to show they have been adequately tested for drugs over a lengthy period by agencies other than Russia's own suspended drug-testing agency, which is suspected of covering up doping.

Klishina has been allowed to compete as a neutral since last year because she has long been based outside Russia. The only other Russian eligible to compete as a neutral is doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, who competed at last year's European championships, though it isn't clear whether she'll race next week.

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