Stepanova eligible to compete as independent: IAAF

Fri Jul 1, 2016 2:25pm EDT
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova's application to compete as an individual athlete has been accepted, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said on Friday.

The former drug cheat's revelations helped expose the massive doping problem in her country and the middle-distance runner left Russia and went into hiding after disclosing the issue.

Stepanova looks likely now to make a comeback as early as July 6 in the 800 metres after European Athletics approved her participation in the continental championships in Amsterdam.

She is due to hold a news conference on Monday in the Dutch city, together with the president of European Athletics Svein Arne Hansen.

The IAAF said its doping review board unanimously accepted Stepanova's application, adding that it had received more than 80 formal requests from Russian athletes seeking exceptional eligibility to compete in an individual capacity.

"Stepanova is now eligible to compete in international competitions as an independent neutral athlete," the IAAF said in a statement.

European Athletics said it recognised Stepanova's "exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes" and cleared her to compete in Amsterdam next week.

"If Stepanova takes her place in Amsterdam, she will compete under the European Athletics flag and is scheduled to compete in the first round of the women's 800m on Wednesday 6 July," European Athletics said in a statement.

It was still unclear, however, if the middle-distance runner would now be eligible to compete at the Rio Olympics, with the IAAF saying it was up to organisers to decide.   Continued...

Journalists are seen near a logo of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at a hotel where the IAAF council holds a meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger