Russian athletes to sue whistleblowers in anti-doping backlash
Several Russian athletes implicated in the country’s doping scandal have vowed to sue the husband and wife who first revealed to programme to German television
Russian athletes banned from international competitions following an investigation into a “state sponsored” doping in the country have vowed to sue the whistleblowers who first revealed the programme.
Kristina Ugarova, a runner who is facing a lifetime ban over the scandal, said she and several several other athletes intended to launch a lawsuit against Yulia and Vitaly Stepanov, who first made allegations about the extent of organised doping in Russia on German television last year.
“We will file a class action lawsuit, all of the accused – at least the athletes,” Ms Ugarova told R-sport, a Russian sports news service. “We will take these Stepanovs to court. First a regional court, then at a more serious level,” she said.
“The lawsuit will be filed for defamation and libel. There will also be a suit against ARD,” she said. She added that Russian athletes have also begun the legal process of forming a trade union to protect their rights.
Mrs Stepanova, a runner who was disqualified for doping in 2013, and Mr Stepanov, a former employee of Russian anti-doping agence Rusada, were the main sources for a documentary screened by Germany’s ARD television channel last year.
The film, which alleged widespread and systematic use of performance enhancing drugs in Russia’s sporting establishment, sparked a wide-ranging investigation by the World Anti Doping Agency that reported earlier this month.
The Wada report accused Russia running an elaborate, “state-sponsored” doping effort, prompting the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to suspend Russia last week.
Ms Ugarova, who was accused of doping in the ARD documentary, is among a number of Russian athletes who Wada recommend for lifetime bans.
Others proscribed by the report include athletes Ekaterina Poistogova, Maria Savinova, Anastasia Bazdyreva, and Tatiana Myazina, and coaches Alexei Melnikov, Vladimir Kazarin, Vladimir Mokhnev, and Viktor Chegin, and anti-doping officer Sergei Portugalov.
Vitaly Mutko, the Russian sports minister, has denied running a state-organised doping programme, but has also promised to do “everything” Wada or the IAAF ask in order to regain membership of the athletics association.
On Tuesday the IAAF appointed a five man team, including former Olympic sprinter Frankie Fredericks, to monitor the Russian reforms.