RT, the Russian government-funded international broadcaster, reported on July 31 that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has banned Russian athletes from publicly displaying their national identity during the 2017 IAAF World Championships, which are taking place August 4-13 in London, UK. Russian athletes are participating not as part of the national team but as “neutrals.”
Like RT, other Russian media portrayed the ban as an obvious case of discrimination against Russian athletes based on their nationality.
In fact, the relevant IAAF regulations only apply to athletes participating as “neutrals” – meaning athletes who, for the variety of reasons, are not allowed or not willing to represent their country of origin - regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. If Russian athletes were participating as part of their national team, none of these restrictions would apply to them.
In the case of the 2017 IAAF World Championships currently taking place in London, 19 Russian athletes were cleared to compete as “neutrals.” However, Russia’s national team was banned from participating in IAAF World Championships after Russia was stripped of its IAAF membership in 2015 following a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation that revealed massive state-sponsored doping schemes in national sports.
On July 31, the IAAF council announced it had rejected Russia’s appeal of the ban, stating that Russia had not fulfilled the conditions for restoring its membership.
The IAAF was founded as the world governing body for track and field athletics more than 100 years ago and remains a global sports authority to this day.