Reigning world outdoor high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene is among 18 Russian athletes cleared to compete so far this year as neutrals, the IAAF said on Thursday.
The sport’s governing body said that while the Russian national federation remained banned for state-sponsored doping, Lasitskene and 17 other athletes had “met the exceptional eligibility criteria to compete in international competition as neutral athletes in 2018”.
The IAAF said it had received 80 applications from Russian athletes to be considered neutrals, but the 18 cleared so far were given priority because they want to compete in the World Indoor Championships in the British city of Birmingham on March 1-4, and in other IAAF indoor meetings.
Russia was banned from international athletics in November 2015 over claims of state-sponsored doping, preventing its team from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics and last year’s World Championships in London.
The IAAF maintained its suspension of Russia in November, saying the country had still not done enough to clamp down on doping.
The International Olympic Committee has also banned Russia from next month’s Winter Olympics, although an estimated 200 Russian competitors who have proved they are clean will compete as independents in Pyeongchang.