Over 220,000 sign to drop ban against Russian Yulia Stepanova

Madrid, Aug 4 (IANS) Change.org website has collected more than 220,000 signatures calling for the cancellation of the ban against Russian athlete Yulia Stepanova and allowing her to participate in the Rio Olympic Games, according to a petition on the website.

In early 2013, Stepanova was disqualified for two years for violating anti-doping rules. The disqualification expired in late January 2015.

In December 2014, Yulia and her husband Vitaly Stepanov, a former employee of the Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA), appeared as key personalities in a controversial documentary aired by Germany’s television broadcaster ARD.

The documentary claimed that Russian track and field athletes were systematically using doping on instructions from their coaches.

Stepanova, a specialist in the 800 metre race and one of the main informants who revealed the scandal of Russian doping, was among other sports officials in the German documentary making allegations on the doping abuse by Russian athletes.

She “made a truly exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport”, the petition said.

Kaj Beuter, initiator of the petition, said the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is “very concerned about the signal this has sent out to all future whistleblowers” and called for letting Stepanova take part in the Games, “in appreciation of her efforts to reveal one of the biggest doping scandals in history”, reports Efe.



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