Yuliya Stepanova, Russian Doping Whistle-Blower, Starts Anew on Track

Charlene Lipsey of the United States, the winner of the race, expressed support for Stepanova’s participation but also argued that athletes with a record of doping — a list that includes Stepanova — should not be allowed to compete professionally.

The race was the first international 800-meter competition that Stepanova had officially finished since September 2015, months before all Russian track and field athletes were barred from global competition amid the nation’s mounting doping scandal. Those sanctions remain in effect.

Over the summer, the International Olympic Committee denied Stepanova’s request to enter the Rio Games as a neutral athlete, refusing to exempt her from the ban in spite of the unanimous recommendation of track officials who commended the lengths to which she had gone as a whistle-blower.


Yuliya Stepanova after competing in the Indoor Grand Prix in Boston. She and her husband, who also spoke out about Russian doping, have been living in hiding with their 3-year-old son.

Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Together with her husband, Stepanov, a former employee of Russia’s national antidoping agency, Stepanova spoke out about how Russian athletes had systematically doped and evaded drug testing, as she herself did until she was punished for a violation in early 2013.

Subsequent investigations and the testimony of Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, Russia’s longtime national antidoping lab chief, who carried out the cover-ups, revealed that Russia was cheating on a dramatically wider scale than the couple had known.

Late last year, an investigator for the World Anti-Doping Agency published evidence that Russia’s government-directed doping schemes had involved, or benefited, more than 1,000 athletes across 30 disciplines.

In Russia, the couple have been condemned as traitors, and they expressed little confidence on Saturday in Russia’s efforts to reform its antidoping system. “In my view, it’s still a circus being run by a bunch of clowns,” Stepanov said.

“Running things in Russia right now is the person who created the doping system, Mr. Mutko,” he added, referring to Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s former sports minister, whom President Vladimir V. Putin promoted to deputy prime minister last year.

Mutko has repeatedly denied that state-sponsored doping takes place in Russia, but he also admitted that most Russian athletes and coaches saw performance-enhancing drugs as necessary to win.

Stepanova, who competed in July at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam but was injured during her race and was later disqualified for a lane infringement, said that last year, she would have wanted to continue running for Russia if the nation had accepted her as a representative. She no longer feels that way, she said Saturday,…

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