IAAF study whistleblower's request to compete again

Monaco - IAAF president Sebastian Coe admitted on Friday that he was looking into how once-banned Russian doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova could again compete on the international stage.

Stepanova received a two-year ban from the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) in 2013 after abnormalities showed up in her biological passport.

In 2014, she and her husband Vitaly Stepanov, who had worked at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), appeared in a German television documentary, claiming widespread doping fraud in the Russian sports system.

The Stepanovas alleged that officials within the now-disgraced Russian athletics federation supplied banned substances in exchange for 5% of an athlete's earnings. Officials, they said, also worked closely with anti-doping officers to falsify or keep quiet tests.

Yuliya Stepanova added that it was also common for Russian athletes training outside of Russia to avoid out-of-competition testing by using false names.

Following the startling revelations, which have since plunged the IAAF into its worst-ever crisis, Yuliya Stepanova left Russia for Germany with her husband and then eight-month-old son.

They applied for political asylum in Canada last November, and Coe confirmed that the IAAF Council had asked the Rune Andersen-headed taskforce into doping in Russia to examine her eligibility to compete.

"The Council has asked the taskforce the eligibility of Yuliya Stepanova to compete in international competition... independently of the status of the Russian athletics federation," said Coe.

"The taskforce has been given the task of going away and looking at the legal and technical issues around eligibility and to report back with a recommendation, hopefully in early May.

"It's not the natural instinct of our Council to prevent clean athletes from competing in international competition. It is our responsibility across the whole sport to make sure that those athletes that are competing are in clean and safe environments and protocols."

Andersen, a former director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), added: "There are different elements to the eligibility of Yuliya Stepanova which needs to be sorted out.

"The taskforce has been asked to look into legal aspects of this and practical aspects on how this can happen."

When asked whether he would favour Stepanova competing in this summer's Rio Olympics, Coe said: "I'm really happy for that issue to be discussed again once we have seen the work that the taskforce is undertaking to make sure that all those issues are properly scoped, that we properly understand the implication for eligibility to compete in international competition.

"I did ask Rune to make sure he reached out to her. I wrote a letter to both of them (Stepanova and her husband) saying that I was very grateful for the help and support that they have given the taskforce and at the appropriate moment I would of course be speaking to them."

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