Middle-distance runner Yulia Stepanova has received a German award for her part in uncovering state-sponsored doping in Russia. The Russian whistleblower now resides in the United States.
For security reasons, the 30-year-old Stepanova was not able to personally attend the ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday, in which she received the 2016 Anti-Doping Prize, awarded annually by the Doping-Oper-Hilfe, an organization that supports victims of doping in sports.
"Yulia Stepanova is a winner, at least a moral winner. The reason that we are here has to do with the dark side of sports, in which winning at any cost is the name of the game. However, the attitude and actions of a single individual can shine a light where there was darkness," Hans Wilhelm Gäb, the former head of the German sports aid foundation Deutsche Sporthilfe said in his speech in honor of the whistleblower. "At a personal cost, Yulia Stepanova has provided a signal of hope in the fight against cheating."
"I would like to thank everybody for their great support," said Stepanova, who was forced to flee Russia after making her revelations. "Unfortunately, for various reasons, we are unable to be with you in person," added the middle-distance runner, who was linked up with the ceremony via Skype.
Among other things, the revelations made by Stepanova and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, led the International Association of Athletics Federations to suspend the Russian athletics federation from all competition, keeping its athletes out of the Rio Olympic Games.
She served a two-year doping ban 2013-2015 over abnormalities in her biological blood passport. She and her husband Vitaly then provided information to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on systematic doping in Russia.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected her bid to compete in Rio as a neutral athlete, due to her earlier ban for doping. This is now receives financial support through an IOC stipend.
Stepanova was also to receive an award of 10,000 euros ($11,000) as part of the 2016 Anti-Doping Prize.