It won’t be an accident: Russian doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova fears for life after Wada hack
The former 800m runner and her husband Vitaly Stepanov helped lift the lid on Russia’s alleged state-sponsored doping programme ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games
Russian doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova said Monday she and her husband fear for their lives after an attempt was made to hack her World Anti-Doping Agency records.
Stepanova, who with husband Vitaly Stepanov helped lift the lid on Russia’s alleged state-sponsored doping programme, has been living in hiding in the US since the crisis exploded last year.
The former 800m runner said she and her husband now faced fresh concerns for their safety following the hack attempt, which was confirmed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) on Saturday.
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“If something happens to us, you should know that it is not an accident,” Stepanova said.
Her warning comes six months after two former senior officials with Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) died suddenly in February.
Stepanova, who had hoped to compete in Rio as an independent athlete only to be denied by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said she also believed doping was rife at the Olympics.
“I am certain there are a number of athletes taking part in the Olympic Games who have in preparation used PEDS (performance enhancing drugs). Doping is not only a problem in Russia,” Stepanova said.
The runner meanwhile accused the IOC of not being serious about tackling doping after the body’s decision not to impose a blanket ban on Russia over the allegations contained in two Wada reports.
“With the way the IOC decided to deal with systematically supported doping by the state, they showed that, if the country supports doping, the IOC will not show this zero tolerance,” she said.
“They say they are zero tolerance but they are really not.”
Stepanov said he believed the majority of Russian athletes in Rio had knowledge of doping but had opted to stay silent.
“I do think most of the Russian athletes competing now know exactly what is happening in Russia and how they are prepared,” he said.
“If you are an athlete or a sports official for more than three years in any sport, you know where the cheating is happening. They follow the same system and they cover up the same system.”
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Stepanov said drug-tainted swimmer Yuliya Efimova, whose participation in Rio was slammed by fellow competitors, most notably US teenager Lilly King, was complicit in helping to cover-up doping in Russia.
“She has the opportunity to start telling the truth. But instead she calls it a Cold War moment,” he said.
“In my view she knows exactly what is happening, she is covering up the Russian doping system.”