This piece is in response to the following letter written by the thirteen national anti-doping groups (‘Nados’) to IOC President, Thomas Bach on the Russian doping scandal.
In the tenth paragraph, it is mentioned that the exclusion of the doping whistleblower, the athlete Yulija Stepanova from competing for Russia at the upcoming Olympics was, in almost the exact words, inexplicable, short-sighted and damaging; that her exclusion would almost certainly deter any other future whistleblowers from coming forward.
As much as I would like to reconcile and concur with that statement, I just cannot bring myself to do it. Here is why:
i) While it is indeed a reasonable enough statement to make that banning Stepanova from Rio would make others reticent about speaking up on the issue of performance drugs, it is still only in essence hearsay and an assumption, however prophetic or otherwise.
ii) Even though Stepanova is to be commended for coming forward, it is wrong to reward her by way of a type of amnesty to let her compete against drug-free Olympians. The plain and undeniable fact is that Stepanova is still guilty of cheating to procure unfair advantage in a very high-stakes environment, never mind the variables of whether she and other Russians were pushed into their duplicity by State officials. It is of course somewhat ludicrous and no doubt absolutely political that the IOC is allowing to compete in Rio at all, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.
Surely a far better outcome would be for the IOC to reward Stepanova and her husband, Vitaly for coming forward with an offer of highly-paid work in the future across widespread drug education and prevention and eradication programmes that you would think the IOC would be looking to establish, if they have not already, in the wake of this whole shameful business.
Finally, consider this scenario if you will. A parliamentary cabinet minister comes clean of taking huge bribes over a long period and subsequently names other fellow members of parliament also implicit. They are all rightly sacked, but the whistleblower appeals not to be. Would it be right to spare him/her? Personally, I do not on principle believe so and I would hazard a guess the majority of the public would also not want him in his position any longer. Sorry, feel absolutely free to disagree vehemently on this, but I cannot see that much difference between that situation and the case of Stepanova.