Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov has confirmed that Russia will replace 10 athletes in the Minsk 2019 athletics team without neutral status ©Getty Images

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has replaced 10 athletes in its European Games athletics team for Minsk 2019 with those with a neutral status approved by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

A group of 19 Russian athletes had been chosen to participate in the athletics competition at the Games, but only nine of these had the neutral status approved by the IAAF.

ROC has since confirmed it will replace the 10 athletes without neutral status for those with neutral status, although it argued this was not technically necessary as the European Olympic Committees (EOC) determined which athletes could compete. 

Instead, ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov claimed the action had been one of "goodwill", as reported by Russia's official state news agency TASS.

"The European Games are held by the EOC, the rules for participation and admission of athletes are determined exclusively by this organisation," he said.

"In forming the composition of the Russian team for the European Games, we proceed precisely from this. 

"At the same time, taking into account, above all, the interests of our athletes in the process of restoring the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), the contradictory position of the IAAF regarding the 'special' status of the Russians, and not wanting to put the EOC leadership in an awkward position, ROC considered it appropriate, as a goodwill gesture, to carry out the replacement of athletes in the Russian team."

RusAF has been suspended since 2015 when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence through an Independent Commission of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.

Russian athletes are required to apply for neutral status from the IAAF if they wish to compete internationally.

Rio 2016 freestyle wrestling gold medallist Abdulrashid Sadulaev is among six Olympic champions named by Russia in its team for the European Games in Minsk ©Getty Images
Rio 2016 freestyle wrestling gold medallist Abdulrashid Sadulaev is among six Olympic champions named by Russia in its team for the European Games in Minsk ©Getty Images

The suspension was extended earlier this month at a Council meeting in Monte Carlo.

Allegations of forged documents and suspended Russian coaches remaining active affected the Council's decision, while the Athletics Integrity Unit also still needs to review the Moscow Laboratory data it has received from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

A total of 225 athletes from Russia are set to compete in the European Games, due to begin here on Friday (June 21) and end on June 30.

The team contains six Olympic champions, including freestyle wrestling Rio 2016 gold medallist Abdulrashid Sadulaev and London 2012 winner Natalia Vorobieva.

Rhythmic gymnasts Vera Biryukova, Anastasia Maksimova and Maria Tolkacheva, who triumphed in the group all-around competition at Rio 2016, are set to compete.

Athens 2004 Olympic trap shooting champion Aleksey Alipov is the defending champion in his event, having struck gold in Baku in 2015.

Seven-times world sambo champion Artem Osipenko will be the flag bearer for the Russian team at the Opening Ceremony and will also aim to retain his gold medal won in Baku. 

More than 4,000 athletes in total are expected to compete in 15 sports.