APNewsBreak: Russia whistleblowers talk to anti-doping group
Mar. 13, 2016
The whistleblower in the Russian doping scandal has the support of anti-doping leaders in her quest to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics this summer.
Yulia Stepanova and her husband, Vitaly, spoke Sunday to more than 130 anti-doping leaders during a rare public appearance. They detailed their role in uncovering the scandal, and Yulia re-emphasized her desire to compete in the Olympics.
"Our members let her know that whatever we can do to help her achieve that, we think it would be appropriate," said Joseph de Pencier, the CEO of the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations.
The Stepanovs spoke via Skype to the gathering of iNADO leaders in Lausanne, Switzerland. The family has been living in hiding since making the allegations that led to last year's suspension of the Russian track program. Last week, the leader of track's international federation (IAAF), Sebastian Coe, said Russia still has "significant work" to do to be reinstated in time for Rio.
Stepanova could presumably compete in Rio even if Russia isn't declared eligible. Recently, the 800-meter runner applied to IAAF to compete in Rio "in capacity other than as a Russian athlete." The IAAF is considering the request.
During their presentation to iNADO, the Stepanovs said they've felt the support from different factions in sports but would also like to see more action — including assurances the Russian track team will not compete in Rio, de Pencier said. He said the husband and wife also spoke about their frustrations in getting someone to listen when they first presented the evidence.
David Kenworthy, the outgoing chairman of iNADO, said the biggest takeaway from the presentation was "just the immensity of what they've done."
"They've turned their lives upside down," Kenworthy said. "Life will never be the same for them."
Last week, the man who led an independent investigation into the Russian track team, Dick Pound, said time is running out for Russia's reinstatement.
"I can't tell for sure whether they are taking this really seriously or they assume the problem will go away," Pound told The Associated Press.
In November, iNADO called for the Russian track team to be banned from the Olympics. De Pencier said Stepanova's presentation only reinforced that stance.
"We're skeptical that Russians can adopt the systemic-cultural change they need to show people their athletes are clean," he said. "Since November, there hasn't been a whole lot of testing and education in Russia. That doesn't increase confidence that they can pull it together in a way that would make athletes around the world feel comfortable about lining up against Russian athletes."