Russian athletes going to world championships as neutrals will be paid by state

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Tuesday told athletes set to compete as neutrals at next month’s world championships that they will be paid by the state despite not officially representing their country.

Pavel Kolobkov, Minister of Sport of Russia addresses the Symposium of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) in Ecublens, Switzerland, March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Nineteen Russian athletes were on Monday entered into the competition being hosted from Aug. 4-13 in London.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said athletes who compete at the championships will not miss out financially.

“Salaries and bonuses will be kept in spite of the neutral flag,” TASS news agency quoted Kolobkov as telling Russian track and field athletes at a training facility outside Moscow.

Russia’s athletics federation remains suspended over a 2015 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report which alleged state-sponsored doping in the sport, something the Kremlin denies.

However, the world governing body, the IAAF, has so far cleared 47 Russian athletes to compete internationally this year under the neutral flag after they demonstrated that their training environment met its anti-doping standards.

The International Association of Athletics Federations told Reuters in an e-mail on Tuesday that all athletes, including neutrals, “have the opportunity to earn money in athletics so long as those payments do not breach the integrity rules of the sport.

“Specifically there is over $7 million prize money on offer to all athletes competing at the London World Championships,” the IAAF said.

Yelena Orlova, a Russian athletics federation official, told R-Sport news agency on Monday that it had entered 19 athletes to compete at the competition as neutrals.

The list included hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, who will defend his world title in the 110-metre hurdles, and world champion high jumper Maria Lasitskene, whose personal best of 2.06 meters is three centimeters off the world record set in 1987.

Russian athletes competing as neutrals will not be allowed to wear their country’s colors and the Russian national anthem will not be played if they win an event, according to IAAF rules.

The IAAF told Reuters it could not confirm any entry information for the world championships until the ranking process was completed.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris