Russian doping cheat turned whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova has requested special permission to compete at this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, it has emerged, with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) expected to consider her request this week.
Stepanova, nee Rusanova, an 800 metres runner boasting a best time of 1min 56.99sec, was banned for two-years in 2013 following abnormalities in her biological passport.
She was stripped of all results set since March 2011, including a silver medal won at the 2011 European Indoor Championships in Paris.
Along with her husband Vitaly, a former official in the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, the 29-year-old then colluded with German journalist Hajo Seppolt in secretly taping athletes and coaches discussing doping in Russian athletics.
Officials supplied banned substances in exchange for five per cent of an athlete’s earnings and colluded with doping control officers to falsify tests, it was alleged.
These allegations were effectively supported by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission last year, resulting in the IAAF suspending the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF).
Russian athletes will be unable to compete at Rio 2016 unless the ban is lifted.
Both Yuliya and her husband have fled Russia since making the allegations, moving to Germany before applying for political asylum in Canada.
Stepanova is now hoping a special exemption will be granted to allow her to compete at Rio 2016, the Sunday Times has reported, suggesting she is still training in the hope of competing as a "hero athlete" under the IAAF flag.
This will be reportedly discussed at the two-day IAAF Council meeting in Monte Carlo starting on Thursday (March 10), where the world governing body's Taskforce will also report on whether Russia has fulfilled criteria required for the ban to be lifted.
"Mrs. Yuliya Stepanova has requested to compete in Rio in a capacity other than as a Russian athlete," the IAAF confirmed in a statement sent to insidethegames today,
"The request will be considered - no decisions have been made."
This comes after the IOC announced plans to allow a special Refugees Olympic Team to compete at Rio.
An IOC spokesperson told insidethegames today that they are "not releasing any names at the moment until they are chosen" in response to questions about whether Stepanova could form part of this team.
If Stepanova does ultimately compete, it is bound to further antagonise sporting relations with key Russian figures, who already claim they are the victims of a witchhunt.