IOC asks Ethics Commission for advice on Stepanova ahead of Rio


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is seeking advice from its Ethics Committee over the potential participation of Russian doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova at Rio 2016.

Stepanova was handed a two-year ban in 2013 after anomalies within her biological passport were identified, losing a silver medal from the 2011 European Indoor Championship as all her results from March of that year were stripped from the record.

The 29-year-old colluded with German journalists in a documentary that accused Russian sports of state-sponsored doping, subsequently leading to the nation being banned from track and field competition by the IAAF.

Although the suspension remains in place, clean Russian athletes have scope to apply for permission to compete under a neutral flag, something that Stepanova became the first to successfully achieve last Friday.

Before the IOC grants her permission to compete at Rio 2016, however, it will seek ethical advice and a hearing with the runner.

An IOC statement read: "As the subject of a participation of Mrs Yuliya Stepanova in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 involves important ethical aspects, the IOC Executive Board (EB) has decided to ask the IOC Ethics Commission for its advice in this respect.

"This comes after the IAAF Doping Review Board, chaired by Robert Hersh, declared Mrs Stepanova eligible to compete in international track and field competitions as a neutral athlete under IAAF Competition Rule 22.1A (c) for 'having made a truly exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport.'

"In a letter dated the same day, the secretary general of the IAAF notified the IOC that Mrs Stepanova is eligible to compete in international competitions as a neutral athlete with immediate effect, including at the forthcoming Olympic Games.

"According to the IAAF criteria, such a participation is always subject to the rules of the organiser of the relevant international competition - in this case it is therefore subject to the Olympic Charter.

"In a letter dated 5 July 2016, Mrs Stepanova requested from the IOC the right to compete as a neutral athlete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, having fulfilled the qualification criteria established by the IAAF. 

"The deliberations of the IOC Ethics Commission will include the opportunity for a hearing for Mrs Stepanova. 

"As soon as the advice of the IOC Ethics Commission is available, the IOC EB will then take all of the circumstances of the case into consideration and decide whether it merits an exception to the rules of the Olympic Charter."