Russian doping whistleblower to compete as a neutral

Yuliya Stepanova will be eligible to compete as an individual athlete after the IAAF accepted her application.

Yuliya Stepanova during 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul. Erik van Leeuwen/Wikimedia Commons.

CAPE TOWN - Russian athlete Yuliya Stepanova will be eligible to compete as an individual athlete after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) accepted her application.

Stepanova, a former drug cheat turned whistle-blower, along with her husband Vitaly Stepanov, exposed the sizeable and systematic doping problem taking place in Russian athletics as well the efforts of officials to shield the operation.

She was one of the world's leading 800m athletes before she had to go into hiding in 2014 as she feared for her life after providing footage which implicated officials involved with doping.

Stepanova's application was unanimously accepted by the doping review board, according to the IAAF, under the Competition Rule 22.1A(c) "as someone having made a truly exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport".

The IAAF said in a statement that Stepanova is "now eligible to compete in international competitions as an independent neutral athlete".

It also said it had received more than 80 formal requests from Russian athletes seeking eligibility to compete in an individual capacity.

The IAAF has informed European Athletics of Stepanova's eligibility and she could compete in the European Athletics Championships next week in Amsterdam.