Doping paradox rules whistleblower Stepanova out of Rio

Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:45am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

(Reuters) - Yulia Stepanova, the key whistleblower in the Russian doping scandal that almost led to her country being completely excluded from the Rio de Janeiro Games, will miss the Olympics after the runner was controversially ruled out due to her doping past.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) invited the middle-distance athlete and her husband to attend next month's Games as guests but denied her a competitive spot in Rio, arguing her doping-tainted past made her ineligible.

Stepanova, who provided evidence of doping in a series of German broadcaster ARD documentaries, has fled Russia and is living in hiding at an undisclosed location in North America, fearing for her safety.

She was cleared to compete in Rio as a neutral athlete by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and received praise for revealing one of the biggest doping scandals in decades.

However, the IOC ruled on Sunday that any Russian athlete with a doping past, including Stepanova, would not be allowed to compete in Rio.

"The executive board have appreciated that she came forward and she and her husband, who also played a very important role, are being invited to the Olympic Games as a guest of the IOC," IOC President Thomas Bach said.

Unfortunately she could not compete due to her doping background, Bach added.

This decision is a controversial one after part of the Olympic Charter blocking sanctioned athletes from future Games, known as the "Osaka rule", was struck down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in 2011.   Continued...

Athletics - European championships - Women's 800m qualifiaction - Amsterdam - 6/7/16 Yulia Stepanova of Russia competes. REUTERS/Michael Kooren