Published On: Fri, Jul 1st, 2016

Russian doping whistleblower Stepanova ‘eligible’ for Rio Games

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© Rio de Janeiro Governor's Office/AFP/File J.P.Engelbrecht

© Rio de Janeiro Governor’s Office/AFP/File J.P.Engelbrecht

Paris (AFP) – Once-banned Russian doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova has been declared eligible to compete at the Rio Olympics under a neutral flag, the IAAF said on Friday.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said Stepanova “is now eligible to compete in International Competitions as an independent neutral athlete”.

The IAAF Doping Review Board “unanimously accepted the application of Yuliya Stepanova … as someone having made a truly exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport”.

Her participation in the August 5-21 Games is subject to formal approval by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Stepanova, a 29-year-old runner who specialises in the 800 metres, can also compete in the European Championships in Amsterdam from July 6-10, under the European Athletics flag.

IOC president Thomas Bach had said that Russian athletes screened by the IAAF could compete under the Russian flag, a prospect the IAAF later dismissed.

The Russian athletes were banned in November 2015 after WADA issued a report that alleged state-sponsored doping in track and field  © AFP/File Gabriel Bouys

The Russian athletes were banned in November 2015 after WADA issued a report that alleged state-sponsored doping in track and field
© AFP/File Gabriel Bouys

The IAAF said it has received more than 80 applications from Russian athletes seeking exceptional eligibility to compete despite their country’s suspension for state-sponsored doping.

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva applied on Thursday following world champion hurdler Sergey Shubenkov and long jumper Daria Klishina.

The IAAF decided last month to maintain the ban on Russian track and field competitors in Rio after findings of drug test violations, including ignored positive and altered test results. But the IAAF left the door ajar and clean athletes can still compete in Rio if they can prove they have not been tainted by the disgraced Russian system.

Stepanova received a two-year ban from the IAAF in 2013 after abnormalities showed up in her biological passport.

The IAAF upheld its ban on Russian track and field competitors at the Rio Olympics after findings of drug test violations, including ignored positive and altered test results  © AFP/File Franck Fife

The IAAF upheld its ban on Russian track and field competitors at the Rio Olympics after findings of drug test violations, including ignored positive and altered test results
© AFP/File Franck Fife

In 2014, she and her husband Vitaly Stepanov, who had worked at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), appeared in a German television documentary, claiming widespread doping fraud in the Russian sports system.

The Stepanovs alleged that officials within the now-disgraced Russian athletics federation supplied banned substances in exchange for 5% of an athlete’s earnings.

Officials, they said, also worked closely with anti-doping officers to falsify or keep quiet tests. Stepanova added that it was also common for Russian athletes training outside of Russia to avoid out-of-competition testing by using false names.

Following the startling revelations, Stepanova left Russia for Germany with her husband and then eight-month-old son. They have since settled in the United States.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology

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