Russian High Jumpers Take Gold As Neutrals In World Indoor Championships

Two Russian athletes competing as neutrals won gold medals in the men's and women's high-jump competitions in the world indoor championships in Birmingham, England, on March 1.

Maria Lasitskene, who has been dominant in her event, scored a 38th straight victory, while her teammate Danil Lysenko caused a shock by handing out a rare defeat to the International Association of Athletics Federations' male athlete of 2017, Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim.

The Russian Athletes Federation has been banned from competing in world events since 2015 as a result of a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation that exposed widespread, state-sponsored doping in its athletics program.

But after doping tests, athletics officials cleared Lasitskene and Lysenko to compete in their events under a neutral flag.

Lysenko, 20, needed a third attempt to clear 2.36-meters to win the gold outright from Barshim, who failed three times at the same height.

"This is the most important result of my career," said Lysenko, who was beaten by Barshim for the outdoor crown in London last year. "Honestly, I did not expect to win this event and I did not think of it at all. This is unbelievable."

Lasitskene, 25, scored an easy win clearing 2.01 meters -- 8 centimeters higher than U.S. defending champion Vashti Cunningham and bronze winner Italian Alessia Trost.

"It is very hard for me to jump without any strong opponents," Lasitskene said. "If there was a girl pushing me, I am sure it could have been even higher today."

Also on March 1, Ethiopian record-holder Genzebe Dibaba won a fourth consecutive world indoor title with a victory in the 3,000-meters.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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