Doping: 6.6.2016 Vitali Stepanov: Brief an / Letter toIOC, IAAF, WADA

Russland und Doping

Yuliya Stepanova und Vitali Stepanov: ihre Geschichte, Erfahrungen und Stellungnahmen

Vitali Stepanov: Brief an Thomas Bach (IOC), Sebatian Coe (IAAF), Craig Reedie (WADA)
Letter to Thomas Bach (IOC), Sebatian Coe (IAAF), Craig Reedie (WADA)

Yulia Stepanova und Viltali Stepanov brauchten mit Ihren Aussagen über die Dopingpraktiken in der russischen Leichtahletik Russland und die IAAF in die schwerste Krise ihres Bestens, aber auch das IOC muss um Glaubwürdigkeit kämpfen ebenso wie es zur WADA viele offenen Fragen gibt.

Anerkennung für das mutige Vorgehen der beiden ist rar, offene Unterstützung Mangelware.

Noch immer müssen sich beide verstecken und Yulia wartet auf eine Startgenehmigung für internationale Wettbewerbe und insbesondere für die Olympischen Spiele in Rio. .

Die Situation der beiden Flüchtlinge ist prekär, sie bräuchten dringend Unterstützung.

Aus diesem Grund wandte sich Vitali Stepanov, auch im namen seiner Frau Yulia am 6.6.2016 mit einem eindringlichen Brief an Thomas Bach (IOC), Sebastian Coe und Craig Reedie (WADA).

Zitat aus Thomas Bachs Antwort auf den Brief:
According to her husband, Bach’s letter said „there is a procedure to follow with regard to participation in the Olympic Games. This procedure, in the interest of protecting the clean athletes, is underway and has to be respected by all parties involved. Please rest assured that your arguments will be taken into due consideration.“

Am 18.6.2016 nahm das IAAF Council die Empfehlung der IAAF Interium Taskforce an und beschloss, dass Yulia Stepanovas Fall bevorzugt behandelt werden soll.
Taskforce Note relating to Yuliya Stepanova

Council: „The fourth recommendation is that any individual athlete who has made an extraordinary contribution to the fight against doping in sport should also be able to apply for such permission. In particular, Yuliya Stepanova’s case should be considered favourably.“

Thomas Bach und Craig Reedie antworteten auf diesen Brief. Vitali Stepanov reagierte mit einem Antwortschreiben in dem er sich für die Antworten bedankte. „I was happy to learn that WADA is not questioning mine and Yuliya’s motives and supports Yuliya’s request to be eligible to compete in any IAAF competitions. I hope that IAAF and IOC take that into consideration when they make a decision in Yuliya’s case.“

Vitali Stepanovs Brief im Wortlaut

Dear all, Dear Mr. Bach, Dear Mr. Coe, Dear Mr. Reedie,

This is Vitaly Stepanov writing. I would like to address a few issues:

1.First of all, I and Yuliya would like to apologize to clean athletes around the world for the mistakes we had done in the past. But we hope we deserve the right to change, to admit our mistakes, and to compete clean. Over the past 3 years we have tried to do the right thing – we tried to fight doping and corrupt sports officials in Russia. Now we have to live with accusations and allegations of being traitors and criminals. We helped to uncover systematic doping in our home country and now, we kindly ask you to help us, by making it possible that Yuliya can compete again, has a chance to participate in major championships, and is not prevented from competing as a result of us trying to help athletics to become a clean and fair sport.

Yuliya was raised in a system in which doping was normal and an everyday business. She did not have the impression of doing wrong, as she was told by everybody around her that this was the only way of reaching top performances and that everybody else would do the same. She realized that was not true and that doping was ethically wrong. She is sorry. She accepted being punished for this. At no point did she use any of the evidence we collected and provided to lower her ban of two years, which she served fully as she had understood that she had cheated on other athletes. We took great risks in collecting evidence and we were aware of this. We still did it, because it was the right thing to do. Nobody will be interested in international competitions if one or a few countries are cheating and do not follow the rules of athletics competitions.The last 20 months have been very difficult for us. Yet, Yuliya has never stopped training. She ran the standards for the European Championships in Athletics and for the Olympic Games in Rio. But, she seems to have no chance to run there. She is Russian and that means that she is suspended. She is the one that helped to uncover the cheating and now is being punished for doing so. We hope that you will understand that we believe that this is a great injustice.

Even if Russia is reinstated for the Olympic Games in Rio, she cannot compete for the Russian team. We do not feel safe traveling home to Russia, especially after the death of Mr. Kamaev in February 2016, who was planning to expose even more facts about the doping system in different Russian sports . Even if we did, there is no possibility that Yuliya would be able to qualify for a major championship. The animosity of journalists, athletes, coaches and sports officials in our home country continues to be unbearable (if necessary we will provide to you hundreds of articles that are continued to be published confirming this statement). Russian social media are full of rant and hatred against us, not only from the general public, but also from many elite athletes. We betrayed long existed doping system in Russia. Although we are Russians, we know that Yuliya will never again be able to compete as a Russian.

We have asked for Yuliya to be tested and to be included in the IAAF testing pool in order to comply with all formal requests of the IAAF for Yuliya to compete. We had to ask, as nobody from the IAAF or European Athletics have offered any assistance, any support or any backing. She has passed all doping tests and is a clean athlete.

And now we address you with the one thing that we cannot do on our own or with the help of the people that have assisted us since we left Russia. It is Yuliya’s dream to be able to compete as a clean athlete against other clean athletes in major championships. We kindly ask you to use your position to help to declare Yuliya eligible to compete without qualification and without any regard for the status of the Russian team. We ask that even if Russia is reinstated, that Yuliya be permitted to compete as an independent athlete, under the IAAF flag or something like that. Yuliya will continue to comply with all competition rules, including submitting to all anti-doping procedures. It is in your power to return trust to athletics but we will also be happy to participate in any events that will help athletics to become a clean and fair competition. Please, help us, only you can help to grant the eligibility to compete to Yuliya today.

2. In regards of the financial assistance that we received from WADA. We are thankful for the support that WADA has given to us in the past. But I think some of the articles that have been published lately can be misunderstood (especially in Russia).

So, I would like to clarify that my family received $ 30 000 loan from WADA in December 2015 because we were in a difficult financial and life situation (–> *). It is also my understanding that WADA financed our relocation from Germany to USA in September 2015. WADA also rented a car for us for about 10 days while we were in USA. I do not know the exact amount that WADA spent on us. I do would like to confirm that we will return $ 30 000 loan to WADA as soon as we receive WADA’s bank account information. We will also return the money that was spent on us during the relocation. I’m hoping that WADA will inform me about the amount that was spent on our relocation and the car rental at the same time that I receive WADA’s bank account information. So, I’m hoping that by Tuesday I’m able to say that all the financial assistance that was provided to us by WADA was returned back to WADA. It is my understanding that as of now WADA does not have any official ways to support whistleblowers and WADA cannot be completely open about the way that financial assistance is being provided. As you can imagine, partial statements by WADA make it look like that I and Yuliya were paid for trying to fight doping. And it is just not true and obviously we do not want to be seen this way. We are hoping that you understand that Yuliya has done something good for fair competition and for clean athletes. It’s already taken for the IAAF Council 7 months to decide if Yuliya’s actions were genuine and if the IAAF Council made the right decision about her in November 2015 (I know that they did not even address her issue and they did not even think about it in November 2015, but they should have addressed it back then if IAAF truly cared about fair competition and whistleblowers that help to make sports cleaner). I will not give any reasons to IOC members and IAAF council members to even make a case that Yuliya’s and mine intentions were not genuine. As soon as I will transfer back the financial assistance that was provided to us by WADA back to WADA I will inform you.

3. On March 9th, 2016 Mr. Reedie (Craig Reedie: REGAINING THE TRUST OF CLEAN ATHLETES/Tackling Doping in Sport) said that the Agency demonstrated its support [to Yuliya] by „Appealing to the IAAF and the IOC that Yuliya be readmitted to compete in major international competitions“.

What does it mean? Were some kind of letters sent to IAAF and IOC? If so, does IAAF TASK FORCE have those letters? Is WADA willing to make those letters public? Is WADA willing to provide those letters to my wife?

If there were no letters, what kind of „appeals“ were those? Are Mr. Bach and Mr. Coe aware of those appeals?

Is Mr. Reedie willing to address Yuliya’s case openly during the next 10 days?

4. I understand that there are IOC members that do not think that Yuliya’s actions are genuine. Those IOC members think that Yuliya does not deserve to be an Olympian. Will those IOC members talk to me or to my wife by phone or skype in the next 10 days? They are also welcome to visit us, we will be happy to share our story in person and Yuliya will be glad to make a good meal for them. Will IOC Ethics Commission be interested to talk to us and to provide expert opinion on Yuliya’s case? Will WADA Ethics Panel talk to us and „provide expert ethical opinion, when required, often on short notice, through the review of urgent or contentious ethical issues that may arise in the fight against doping in sport“ (quoted from WADA’s website)? I am under the impression that IOC, IAAF and WADA prefer that my wife did not exist, but she does exist. Both of us are trying to make sports cleaner but she also wants to be a part of cleaner competitions. And she stated so in a truthful 10 page statement to WADA in February 2013 (the statement as it was sent to WADA on Feb 27th, 2013 is attached to this message:

5. Please, be aware of the message that my wife sent to IAAF, IAAF Task Force and WADA on March 10th, 2016:

Yulias statement:
„Dear President Lord Coe and Members of the IAAF Council, Dear Olivier Niggli and David Howman,

Please, be informed that I, Iuliia Stepanova, will be glad to return the prize money that I won while participating in IAAF competitions prior to my disqualification. The total amount that I won is $ 8 000 ( $4000 for 8th place in Daegu [2011] and $4000 for 6th place in Istanbul [2012]). In January 2015 IAAF allowed me not to return the above mentioned amount as recognition of providing substantial assistance in the fight against doping [the letter from IAAF that confirms so attached as „IAAF_Iulia Stepanova_30012015“] . I would love to continue provide assistance in the fight against doping. I realize that I earned $ 8000 with the help of prohibited substances and I will be glad to return $ 8000 to IAAF or directly to athletes that deserve this prize money according to the standings.

Best regards, Iuliia Stepanova“

This message was sent in respond to the petition that was led by Paula Radcliffe and included the following statement: “We protest in the strongest terms any reinstatements of any banned athletes (including so-called “whistle-blowers”) without the full repayment of their unfairly gained prize moneys.“ I do understand that Paula Radcliffe as a strong supporter of doping fighting, probably doesNOT think that my wife deserves another chance. I do hope that somebody forwards this message to Paula Radcliffe. I hope she is willing to talk to us.“

But in any case, as soon as IAAF tells us, we will return $ 8 000 to IAAF or directly to athletes that deserve this prize money according to the standings.

6. Dmitry Shlyakhtin, the new president of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) said to THE TIMES on May 2nd, 2016: “They[Stepanovs] made an enemy of the Russian federation,” Shlyakhtin said. “Repeatedly, I have tried to contact them by email. I gave them a letter suggesting we meet in Spain or France. Fears? They are not needed by anyone. I fail to understand their position. They need to calm down. They need to come out of hiding. Only Russia can help them solve their problems.”

On May 9th, 2016 we did learn that Mr. Shlyakhtin did write to us. On May 10th, 2016 we wrote to Mr. Shlyakhtin. Mr. Butov confirmed that he received our letter and forwarded our letter to Mr. Shlyakhtin as well. As of today, June 5th, 2016 there was no reply from Mr. Shlyakhtin, which to me shows that Mr. Schlyakhtin is not interested to talk to us and also he lied to THE TIMES. We have sent evidence to the IAAF task force that the Russian athletics federation, the Russian Ministry of Sports and the Russian police have no interest of helping Yuliya. In fact those organizations fired her and are making sure that Yuliya’s intentions are discredited and she is seen as a traitor, and a criminal inside of Russia.

7. In regards of the investigation on new Russian doping allegations. I’m not in the position to give any comments about my and my wife’s involvement, but I can assure you 100% that we are helping to fight doping in sports. As soon as I’m in the position to tell more, I will inform WADA investigative person, WADA IP, and the IAAF Task Force.

8. Please, also look at the attached signed affidavits by Yuliya and me (attached file „Affidavit of Iuliia Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov – June 5, 2016“).

Eidesstattliche Erklärung Yulia Stepanova

9. The INDEPENDENT COMMISSION REPORT #2, on page 49 says the following:

10. 13 Part II Recommendations

1. THAT the IAAF publicly recognize the assistance provided by the whistleblowers in establishing the facts of corruption in Russian athletics and offer any necessary support in their relocation and employment.

2. THAT the IAAF offer encouragement and assistance to whistleblowers in matters of doping and other corruption.

It is my understanding that both I and Yuliya were seen as whistleblowers by the WADA IC and IAAF.

I hope that all of you realize that in Yuliya’s case „employment“ means „being eligible to compete“. We hope that IAAF will follow the recommendations of THE WADA IC, but we are a little disappointed that it’s taken already almost 5 months to make a decision, even though Mr. Coe commented the following on Jan 14th, 2016 ( ) :“I am extremely grateful to the WADA Independent Commission for its work and for the recommendations it has made. The corruption that it has revealed is totally abhorrent, and a gross betrayal of trust by those involved. Even though each of the impacted doping cases was eventually resolved with lengthy bans for the athletes involved, I recognise that the IAAF still has an enormous task ahead of it to restore public confidence. We cannot change the past, but I am determined that we will learn from it and will not repeat its mistakes. Some of the measures recommended by the Independent Commission already feature in the governance reform programme that I announced on 5 January but we will now urgently consider all of the new recommendations and will incorporate them quickly into that reform programme.“

I, Vitaly Stepanov, would also like to confirm that I will be glad to accept any support from IAAF in regards of my own employment.

10. Please, be aware that on February 1st, 2016 I sent the following message to Dr. Budgett from IOC: „I believe that Yuliya should not be suspended right now and I also hope that there is a way for her to be an Olympian. Obviously her priorities have changed over the past few years, and she does not have a goal to win at any cost any longer. Right now she just wants to see how fast she can become by being an honest athlete. She does have a qualifying standard for RIO Olympics in 800m run.

Her goal right now is to follow this quote from The Olympic Museum in Lausanne (attached as „Pierre de Coubertin“) by Pierre de Coubertin: „The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won but to have fought well“.

Both I and Yuliya believe the same as of today.

11. Dear Mr. Bach, I hope clean athletes forgive me for speaking on their behalf. Please, start providing to WADA a lot more money. It is really frustrating to read that WADA’s budget is less than what Mariya Sharapova makes in a year. WADA needs a lot more money for investigations and other activities. Clean athletes should not feel that they are protected by a poor organization.

12. Please, at least one person from WADA confirm that this message was read and forwarded to Mr. Reedie.

13. Please, at least one person from IOC confirm that this message was read and forwarded to Mr. Bach.

14. Please, at least one person from IAAF confirm that this message was read and forwarded to Mr. Coe.

15. Please, at least one person from WADA Independent Commission confirm that this message was read.

16. Please, at least one person from the IAAF task force confirm that this message was read..

I do not have the direct email addresses of Mr. Bach, Mr. Coe and Mr. Reedie. Please, dear journalists that are reading this message, forward it to Mr. Bach, Mr. Coe and Mr. Reedie.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Thank you for reading my letter and I’m looking forward to your answers and comments.

Best regards,

Vitaly Stepanov

PS. I promised to my wife that if she becomes a clean athlete and starts to fight doping and corrupt sports officials with me I will put up a fight for her and try to make sure that she does not regret doing the right thing. So, again I’m sorry for such a long letter, Yuliya risked a lot while getting evidence about systematic doping in Russia and the least that I can do as a husband is to make sure that I’ve done everything to give my wife a chance to become an Olympian.