Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov, the whistleblowing duo whose allegations led to the exposing of Russian doping problems in athletics, have voiced their doubts that problems in the country will be truly resolved anytime soon.
It came as middle distance runner Yuliya returned to competition by racing over 800 metres at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Indoor Tour in Boston.
The 30-year-old herself served a two-year ban for doping before providing evidence alongside her husband, a former employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
Russia was consequently suspended by the IAAF as more evidence emerged, with the Stepanovs forced to move to an unspecified location in the United States for their own safety.
They have since been vilified as traitors within Russia.
Stepanova, who came seventh and last in Boston, three seconds behind American winner Charlene Lipsey in 2min 05.14sec, admitted that she still faces opposition from some of her rival competitors.
"They always say hello but I know a lot of athletes at the top level are against me and sometimes I can see it in their eyes,” she told Reuters.
Lipsey herself expressed support for Stepanova after the race but also said that anyone who serves a doping ban should not be able to return to competition.
Stepanova was one of just two Russians cleared to compete internationally by the IAAF due to being able to prove that she had been operating in an "effective testing system" outside the country.
She competed at the European Championships in Amsterdam in July but pulled-up in her 800m heat with an injury before being disqualified for a lane infringement.
But she was unable to participate at the Rio Olympic Games after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) barred any Russian who had previously failed a drugs test.
This comes as Russia attempts to convince the IAAF that necessary changes have been made.
"It will be hard to change because you need to change the mentality," Stepanova added.
"A lot of coaches in Russia were athletes themselves, and they were coached in the USSR [Soviet Union] system.
“It’s hard for them to believe that there’s another way to do it.
“Here in the States I feel safe because I know I am physically very far from Russia.
"I thought the attitude in Russia would change.
"That I was trying to help the sport, that I was trying to help the athletes, but unfortunately that is still not the case.”
Husband Vitaly, who is now providing a consultancy service to the IOC on all aspects of doping control and the protection of clean athletes, singled-out the lingering influence of Vitaly Mutko, the former Sports Minister who has now been promoted to Deputy Prime Minister.
“In my view, it’s still a circus being run by a bunch of clowns,” Stepanov told the New York Times.
“Running things in Russia right now is the person who created the doping system, Mr Mutko,”
Stepanova is now hoping to return to sub two minute form over two laps in a bid to participate at the Tokyo Olympic Games, but with a more circumspect approach.
“When I was training in Russia, everybody told me that was not possible without doping,” she added.
“What a lot of athletes are forgetting, or what athletes in Russia never learned, is that the whole Olympic Movement isn’t about winning at any cost.
"It’s about trying your best and respecting the competition.
"If you’re faster than them, good. If you’re not, it doesn’t make you a loser.”
It comes as investigations continue into evidence provided by another whistleblower, former Moscow Laboratory head Grigory Rodchenkov, about the manipulation of Russian doping samples at a multitude of other events in Russia including the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.