By Dimitriy Rogovitskiy
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The IAAF's Doping Review Board has turned down applications from 67 Russian athletes to compete internationally as "neutral" individuals, following a blanket ban on the country's track and field athletes for systematic doping.
The All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) said in a statement on Sunday it was informed by the sport's world governing IAAF that only one application had been approved, from long jumper Darya Klishina, out of 68 requests made.
"The rest of the 67 athletes who have been approved by the ARAF's board as they have fulfilled the federation's criteria to compete in the Olympics have been refused," ARAF said on its website (www.rusathletics.com).
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) suspended Russia's track and field athletes last year after a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report uncovered systematic state-sponsored doping in the country.
The ban was extended last month, which ruled Russia's athletes out of next month's Rio Olympics, although ARAF has appealed against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.. CAS is due to rule on the case by July 21.
Individual Russian athletes, however, could apply to the IAAF for exemptions to compete as a "neutral athlete" if they could prove they were not involved in the system and were subjected to drug tests outside the country.
However, the 25-year-old Klishina, who finished 10th in the long jump at last year's world championships in Beijing, was the only one of the 68 athletes approved by ARAF who has been cleared by the IAAF to compete internationally as a "neutral".
Klishina's was one of 136 appeals to the IAAF under the neutral athlete provisions and most of the applications had been reviewed, the IAAF had said on Saturday.
Russian doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova's application to compete as an individual was accepted by the IAAF on July 1. She competed in the 800 meters at the European Athletics Championships on Wednesday although she pulled up injured.
The former drug cheat's revelations helped expose the massive doping problem in her country and she left Russia and went into hiding after disclosing the issue.
She is still waiting to hear from the International Olympic Committee whether she can participate in the Rio Games.
ARAF said on Sunday it would carry on fighting against the IAAF's decisions and added that the country's athletes were continuing to prepare for the Olympics, which start on Aug. 5.
"The ARAF does not agree with the decision taken by the IAAF's Council from June 17 (to extend the blanket ban) and the decision from the IAAF's Doping Review Board on July 10 in regard to the Russian athletes," said the ARAF statement.
"The ARAF will use all legal possibilities in order that Russian athletes will get the chance to take part in the Olympics.
"Russian athletes are continuing to prepare for the most important event in four years, and together with the Russian Sports Ministry and the Russian Olympic Committee we will take all the necessary technical and organizational steps in order to prepare the Russian track and field team for the Olympic Games."
"The federation is fighting for the right of clean sportsmen and is waiting for a decision from CAS," ARAF added.
Klishina's best performance at a senior global event was fourth at the world indoor championships in Istanbul in 2012. She has finished seventh twice at the world outdoor championships - in 2013 in Moscow and in 2014 in Sopot.
"The IAAF Doping Review Board has agreed that Russian long jump athlete Darya Klishina meets the exceptional eligibility criteria to compete in international competition as a neutral athlete," the IAAF said on its website (www.iaaf.org).
"Darya Klishina's participation as a neutral athlete in international competition is still subject to acceptance by the organizer of the competition in question, in accordance with the rules of that competition," it added.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Additional reporting by Dimitriy Rogovitskiy in Moscow; Editing by Ken Ferris, Greg Mahlich)