16th August 2016

Stepanovs critical of sport’s failure to deal with their situation

Yuliya Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov have criticised sport for failing to respond effectively to the risk they took in presenting evidence of systemic doping in Russia, which they argue has put their safety in danger and discouraged others from coming forward. “If anything happens to us, you must know that it is not a coincidence”, said Yuliya in a transcript of videoconference transcribed by Jens Weinreich.

Yesterday, The Sports Integrity Initiative reported how the Stepanovs had been forced to move location after Yuliya’s email and account on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) had been hacked. ADAMS is used to record where an athlete will be available for testing for one hour each day, under the ‘whereabouts’ requirements within the World Anti-Doping Code. As is convenient for athletes to use their home address, the Stepanovs location is understood to have been compromised. A statement from WADA said that it is in contact with ‘law enforcement authorities’ over the incident.

“Thomas Bach and the IOC [International Olympic Committee] have never been interested in us”, said Yuliya. “They have never been interested in the background. There was only ever one contact – an hour phone conversation with the IOC Ethics Committee and 30 minutes with Richard Budgett (Medical & Scientific Director of the IOC). They are not interested. Neither Bach nor the IOC.”

Vitaly Stepanov said that following the IOC decision not to allow Yuliya to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics, despite the information she was able to give the WADA Independent Commission set up to investigate allegations of systemic Russian doping, there was little incentive for Russian athletes and officials to come forward. “Once you talk, you’ll lose all positions, be banished from sport, the clubs, the army, Gazprom”, he said. “Whoever speaks loses everything and must start from scratch.”

As a press release reveals, Vitaly Stepanov first contacted WADA about systemic Russian doping in 2010, however WADA has argued that it couldn’t investigate until it was granted new powers under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code. WADA eventually praised the Stepanovs for coming forward, however nothing was done until Hajo Seppelt produced a documentary for German television in 2014.

The IOC criticised Yuliya for being part of the system she helped present evidence about, which appears to be a contradiction in terms. ‘The sanction to which she was subject and the circumstances in which she denounced the doping practices which she had used herself, do not satisfy the ethical requirements for an athlete to enter the Olympic Games’, read the IOC Ethics Commission’s recommendations on her eligibility for Rio 2016. “Had I not been part of that system, I wouldn’t be in a position to talk about it”, pointed out Yuliya. “I wouldn’t know what I know and wouldn’t have anything to share”.

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