9 March 2021

Stepanovs legal action claims Russia violated their human rights

Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanov (Виталий Степанов & Ю́лия Степанова), who helped expose Russian State doping, have launched legal action with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, alleging that Russia’s operation of a State doping programme violated their human rights. Stepanov, a former employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and Stepanova, a former middle distance runner and participant in the State doping programme, provided evidence to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and journalist Hajo Seppelt which revealed that Russian athletics officials were supplying banned substances to athletes and were colluding with anti-doping officials to cover up positive tests in exchange for a percentage of athlete earnings.

The Stepanovs have previously been critical of sport’s failure to deal with their situation. “If anything happens to us, you must know that it is not a coincidence”, said Yuliya in 2016. They were also forced to move location in 2016, after criminals hacked into Yuliya’s email account and her account with WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS), into which athletes must submit a location where they will be available for testing.

The legal action (PDF below or click here) alleges that Russia is guilty of several violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) due to its State doping programme. The main violations they allege are outlined below.

The complaint claims that the Russian State doping programme violates Article 7 of the ICCPR, which reads: ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.’

It argues that Yuliya Stepanova had no choice but to participate in the ‘medical or scientific’ experiment that was State doping. The environment in which it took place left no room for free and informed consent, as her livelihood depended on her participation in State doping.

The 128-page complaint also alleges that State doping programmes are a form of forced labour prohibited by Article 8 of the ICCPR. It also alleges that Russia’s State doping programme endangers the right to health, and violates the right to freedom of speech, privacy, and family life.

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