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Doping whistleblower Stepanova to appeal Olympic exclusion

It’s unclear whether or not the appeal will be successful.

Stepanova is hoping to gain last minute entry to the Rio Games.
Stepanova is hoping to gain last minute entry to the Rio Games.
Image: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP/Press Association Images

YULIYA STEPANOVA, THE Russian 800m runner who lifted the lid on systematic doping and corruption in Russian athletics, is making one last-gasp appeal of her ban from the Rio Olympics.

Her husband Vitaly Stepanov, a former Russian Anti-Doping Agency employee who also provided information on doping, told USA Today in an article posted on their website on Tuesday that the couple believe the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to let Stepanova race in Rio is a slap in the face to those who dare to reveal doping secrets.

“In my view, that’s an unfair decision to whistleblowers because what IOC lacked to understand, if Yuliya never started to do whistleblowing, most likely none of this would be happening,” he said. “After her ban was over, she would have been part of the Russian Olympic team right now, most likely competing the Olympics.”

The Stepanovs have made a final appeal to the IOC, sending a letter on Monday to its general counsel pointing out what they see as errors in the IOC ethics commission review of her case.

The commission ruled Sunday that she couldn’t race in the Olympics because she had refused to run for Russia and there was no provision for her to compete as a neutral.

The commission also noted that while Stepanova had “made a contribution” to anti-doping efforts that as an admitted cheater she doesn’t “satisfy the ethical requirements for an athlete to enter the Olympic Games”.

The Stepanovs, now in North America, have disputed the commission’s characterization of their action, sayingStepanova never declined to compete for Russia.

Stepanov told USA Today that the decision would have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers.

“What they are saying is if you are corrupt, if you want to change, don’t change. Stay corrupt. Keep lying. Even if they catch you once, continue lying. Don’t change, don’t try to change. I don’t think that’s the message that ethical organizations want to send.”

The International Association of Athletics Federations banned Russia from international competition, including the Olympics, after an investigation sparked by the Stepanovs’ claims.

The IAAF, however, had backed Stepanova’s inclusion in the games for her “truly exceptional contribution” to the anti-doping effort.

Later revelations of an even broader state-backed doping program in an array of sports had the IOC under pressure to ban Russia entirely from the Games — a move they declined to take.

Instead on Sunday they left the issue of which Russians can compete in the hands of individual sports federations. The list of banned Russians was growing Tuesday even as critics continued to lash the IOC for failing to show leadership in the battle for drug-free sport.

(C) AFP 2016

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