Rus­sian in­for­mants on the run in the US

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

THE two whistle­blow­ers who helped ex­pose Rus­sia’s sys­tem­atic ath­letic dop­ing pro­gram are be­lieved to be on the run again, re­port­edly look­ing for new safe haven in the United States af­ter their where­abouts were com­pro­mised ear­lier this week. On Au­gust 15, just a day af­ter Yu­lia Stepanova said her email ac­count with the World-Anti Dop­ing Agency (WADA) had been hacked, she and her hus­band, Vi­taly Stepanov, spoke with re­porters and de­tailed the grav­ity of their sit­u­a­tion. In it, Stepanova seemed to im­ply they feared for their safety, say­ing, “If some­thing hap­pens to us, all of you should know, it’s not an ac­ci­dent.”

Speak­ing from an undis­closed lo­ca­tion within the US, the Stepanovs’ com­ments are the first since WADA con­firmed on Au­gust 14 that Yu­lia Stepanova’s ac­count within the or­gan­i­sa­tion had been bro­ken into. Ac­cord­ing to ESPN’S Bon­nie Ford, sev­eral in­ter­na­tional me­dia out­lets re­ceived an un­signed email on Au­gust 13 “from a pri­vate Switzer­land­based group that has been sup­port­ing Stepanova and her hus­band Vi­taly Stepanov with a fundraising ef­fort also en­dorsed by sev­eral past and cur­rent prom­i­nent Olympic ath­letes”, which de­tailed the hack and added an­other twist in a scan­dal that be­gan more than two year ago when the cou­ple ex­posed the in­ner­work­ings of Rus­sia’s dop­ing sys­tem.

Yu­lia Stepanova, a for­mer Rus­sian track star who was sus­pended in 2013, and Vi­taly Stepanov, who worked for the now-dis­cred­ited Rus­sian Anti-Dop­ing Agency, fled Rus­sia with their young son in 2014 and even­tu­ally set­tled in the United States in 2015 af­ter be­com­ing in­for­mants for WADA.

On Au­gust 15, Ford posted sev­eral tweets de­tail­ing new com­ments from the cou­ple, which in­cluded spec­u­la­tion that WADA’s cur­rent guide­lines aren’t pre­pared to han­dle this mag­ni­tude of dop­ing and that the whis­tle should’ve been blown ear­lier.

The 30-year-old Yu­lia Stepanova had been plan­ing to com­pete in Rio as a neu­tral ath­lete, but the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee de­nied her re­quest in Au­gust and she de­clined to ap­peal. – The Wash­ing­ton Post

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