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Stepanova turns down IOC invite to Rio and calls for a review of board's ruling

By Matt Slater

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach told journalists on Sunday that the ethics commission had "appreciated" Yuliya Stepanova's role in exposing the systemic cheating in Russia but could not ignore "what happened before" when she was part of the doping programme.

Instead of allowing her to run, said Bach, the IOC was happy to invite Stepanova (below) to Rio as special guests in recognition of their "important role" in the fight against doping. That decision was, however, roundly criticised by anti-doping experts and investigative journalists who have heralded the Stepanovs' contribution to exposing what many believe to be sport's worst doping scandal.

"The IOC (executive board) has obviously not been given the correct information by the IOC ethics commission," the Stepanova letter to IOC director general Christophe de Kepper said.

"We kindly ask you to forward to the IOC EB our request to review their decision on the basis of the information provided.

"We also would like to state that we never blew the whistle with the intent to getting a spectators' invitation to Rio.

"We have not asked for a favour, we have asked for a fair and ethical treatment.

"Having an ethical committee report untruthfully in spite of all the discussions being recorded is something that we would never have conceived.

"We respectfully decline your invitation as spectators, but kindly ask you to give Yuliya the fair treatment she deserves."

US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart described the IOC's stance as "incomprehensible" and said it would "undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future", while World Anti-Doping Agency director general Olivier Niggli said: "Stepanova was instrumental in courageously exposing the single biggest doping scandal of all time.

"WADA is very concerned by the message that this sends whistleblowers."

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