Rio 2016: Doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova given Olympics clearance

Story highlights

  • Doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova cleared to compete
  • Can race in Rio as "independent neutral"
  • More than 80 other Russian athletes have applied for "exceptional eligibility"
  • Russian athletes banned from Olympics in November for state-sponsored doping

(CNN)Her country's athletes have been banned from this summer's Olympics in Rio, but Russia's doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova could compete after being cleared to race as an "independent neutral."

Stepanova, who exposed systematic doping in Russian athletics along with husband Vitaly Stepanov, is the first of more than 80 Russian athletes to learn their fate after applying for "exceptional eligibility" to compete in an individual capacity.
    The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said Stepanova's request was accepted unanimously as a result of her "truly exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport."
    The IAAF acknowledges there could be other Russian athletes who have been training in other countries under more rigorous anti-doping regimes and their applications will be assessed by the body's doping review board.
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    However, competition organizers -- in Rio's case the International Olympic Committee (IOC) -- will have the final say.
    IOC president Thomas Bach has said any "clean" Russian athlete who passes the eligibility tests can compete under their nation's flag in Rio.
    Stepanova, an 800m specialist who will be 30 on July 3, was banned for two years in 2013. She is now eligible to compete at the European athletics championships in Amsterdam from July 6-10.
    Russia's track and field athletes were banned from international competition in November after a damning report made accusations of state-sponsored doping.
    Russia had 104 track and field athletes competing at London 2012.
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