Stepanova cleared to compete internationally

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Russian Middle distance athlete Yuliya Stepanova has become the first athlete eligible to enter international competitions, as an independent athlete, after confirmation by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

The IAAF released a statement earlier today stating that “Stepanova is now eligible to compete in international competitions as an independent neutral athlete.”

It is still unclear whether she will compete in the Olympics, however, with the IAAF stating that her participation at international competitions is “still subject to acceptance by the organizer of the competition in question,”

Russia’s athletics federation has been banned from international athletics competitions since November 2015, after large scale doping was discovered throughout Russia’s athletics federation.

However, the IAAF have stated Russian athletes that have trained outside of Russia under a clean anti-doping system will be granted permission to compete internationally.

Stepanova has recently served a two year ban from 2013, due to past use of steroids in 2007 and abnormalities being found in her biological passport.

During her ban, the 29-year-old, along with husband and former Russian anti-doping agency employee Vitaly Stephanov, revealed that there was “a deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics.

The couple have since moved to Canada, after Stepanova was branded a “traitor” by Russian compatriots such as her former coach Vladimir Kazarin.

Stepanova’s participation in the Olympics has also been described by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mukto as “absurd” as it is “prejudicial to healthy, clean athletes who have had a healthy, honest lifestyle their whole lives.”

However, many Russian athletes, such as world 110m hurdles Sergey Shubenkov and world high jump champion Maria Kuchina, are already said to have applied to compete internationally.

It is believed that over 80 applications have been made so far, with the IAAF set to decide which ones are successful by 18th July.