Koller in New York Times: Let Russian whistleblower compete

In a June 16 New York Times op-ed, Professor Dionne Koller writes that the International Olympic Committee’s recent decision to welcome a team of 10 refugees from troubled or war-torn nations exemplifies the best of the Olympic movement and comes at a time when that movement’s fundamental values seem under siege.

Koller said that of all the threats to the Olympics’ integrity, the most damning is state-supported doping in Russia, which has been documented and reported by, among others, a Russian couple, Yuliya Stepanova, an 800-meter runner, and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, a former anti-doping official.

Fearing for their lives, the couple left Russia. While Stepanova continues to train on her own and earned an Olympics-qualifying time, she cannot run for her country in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

Koller said that while Stepanova was not forced to flee a conflict zone, she was forced to flee Russia nonetheless — and that, moreover, her “moral actions have helped to preserve the integrity of the Olympic movement itself.”

Therefore, said Koller — the director of UB’s Center for Sport and the Law — the IOC and the International Association of Athletics Federation must use their authority to make sure Stepanova is able to compete.

Wrote Koller in “An Olympic Antidoping Champion“: “To maintain its credibility as a proponent of clean sport, the International Olympic Committee must grant Ms. Stepanova the right to compete in Rio independently of Russia. … It would make a mockery of the Olympic movement to deny an athlete who has taken enormous personal risks for the cause of clean sport the ability to participate in the Rio Olympics.”

Learn more about Professor Koller.

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