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Six Russian athletes have had their applications approved to partake in international competition, however, they are still not permitted due to the illegal invasion by Russian into Ukraine. None of them are Olympians.

Nikita Anishchenkov and Nikita Kurbanov who are high jumpers, and long jumpers Artem Chermoshanskiy and Danil Chechela as well as long-distance runner Marina Kovaleva and race walker Maksim Pianzin now all have neutral status. Meaning they can compete in their sport but not to be identified by the Russian national anthem titled Patrioticheskaya Pesnya which is lyric free, perhaps because it may be meaningless or the Russian flag, Flag Rossii.

World Athletics has approved the athlete applications as they apparently meet the requirements to compete.

Russia is under suspension for systematic doping and have been since 2015. Currently, Russia and Belarus are also banned for their attack on Ukraine. Since the incursion, the world’s largest nation has gone from persona non grata to status invisus — hated, globally. It didn’t help that while World Athletics has tried to work with Russia with steps toward reinstatement, the police arrested and the leadership took prisoner an American athlete in Brittney Griner a professional American basketball player. She was a pawn.

Her freedom was granted only with the exchange for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Anatolievich Bout, a man dubbed “the Merchant of Death.” He was imprisoned in the U.S. for ten years and was released on Dec. 8, 2022, 15 years short of his full sentence.

Once the invasion is over, the Russian Athletics Federation and Russian Anti-Doping Agency will need to work in earnest to prove they are worthy of reinstatement. Won wonders how they will manage that in a country where Russian whistleblower Vatily Stepanov claims corruption is a way of life. If so, this is a multi-generational transformation project. Not a next year deal.