On Sunday July 24, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) informed Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova that she is not allowed to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Despite being given clearance by the International Associations of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to compete as a neutral athlete. The IOC ruled that Mrs. Stepanova is allowed to compete because of her previous use of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). However, Mrs. Stepanova, whom has since had to flee her country to live secretly in the United States, is the one who blew the whistle on the recent Russian state-funded doping program. Her whistleblowing has now cost her the chance to compete in the 2016 Olympic games.
This decision released by the IOC is discouraging to future whistleblowers. The National Whistleblower Center is demanding that Mrs. Stepanova be allowed to compete. The executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, Stephen M. Kohn, stated that, “Banning Yuliya Stepanova is irresponsible. It is imperative that she be permitted to compete to send a message to every athlete that they are encouraged to report illegal doping. The actions of the IOC will have an even broader chilling effect on whistleblowing.”
While Mrs. Stepanova may not be able to compete in this year’s Olympics, her contribution to restoring the integrity of the games is worthy of a gold medal in and of itself.
Previous blog on Yuliya Stepanova.