Elite Russian athletes could however be sidelined from next year’s Comrades and Two Oceans ultra-marathons.
The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) said in a statement that “fun runners” would not be sanctioned, despite the provisional ban placed on the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) due to an ongoing doping scandal.
No elite or affiliated athletes, however, could compete in international races (including Comrades and Two Oceans) while the suspension was in place.
“The ban on participation applies to any Russian athlete who is affiliated to ARAF, or who is affiliated to a club or region that is affiliated to ARAF,” AIMS said.
“This includes any athlete whose participation has been negotiated by the organisers but also any athlete with an affiliation to ARAF.”
Russian women, in particular, have dominated South African ultra-distance races in recent years, bagging the Comrades title 12 times since prize money was introduced in 1995 and securing the Two Oceans crown on 12 occasions in the last 15 years.
If the ban is lifted before next year’s Comrades, to be held on May 29, ‘down’ run record holder Elena Nurgalieva will aim to emulate former South African star Bruce Fordyce as a nine-time winner of the annual race.
While no Russian men are included in the list of Two Oceans champions, athletes from the European nation have won the Comrades five times.
Leonid Shvetsov, who represented Russia at the 2004 Athens Olympics, holds the men’s ‘up’ and ‘down’ Comrades records.