Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova will not be able to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a neutral athlete after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission ruled her ineligible due to her "long implication in a doping system".
Last month, Stepanova, who herself has served a doping ban, became the first Russian athlete to be granted permission to compete internationally under a neutral flag by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The exemption was granted as it was her allegations which led to the current suspension of Russian athletes from international competition following the scandal over doping in their country.
Her participation at the Games had been viewed by many as key to encouraging more whistleblowers to come forward, but the IOC were required to sanction her participation at the Olympics.
The IOC Executive Board referred the decision on her participation to the Ethics Commission, with a hearing for Stepanova included in the process.
Stepanova, an 800 metres runner, had declined to compete as a member of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team, with ROC President Alexander Zhukov stating she would not have been selected anyway.
The Commission, while praising her contribution to the “fight against doping”, said they took into account her “own long implication, of at least five years, in this doping system".
They also factored in "the timing of her whistleblowing, which came after the system did not protect her any longer following a positive test for which she was sanctioned for doping for the first time".
Under the terms of their decision to not to allow any Russian athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping to compete at Rio 2016, the IOC have barred Stepanova.
“While it is true that Mrs Stepanova’s testimony and public statements have made a contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of sport, the Rules of the Olympic Charter related to the organisation of the Olympic Games run counter to the recognition of the status of neutral athlete,” an IOC statement read.
“Furthermore, the sanction to which she was subject and the circumstances in which she denounced the doping practices which she had used herself, do not satisfy the ethical requirements for an athlete to enter the Olympic Games.”
The IOC have stated that they will invite Stepanova and her husband, fellow whistleblower Vitaliy Stepanov, to Rio 2016, while they claim to be ready to support her in continuing her sports career and potentially join a National Olympic Committee (NOC).
However, many will see the decision as a way of appeasing Russia, who were strongly against her participation under any flag.
United States Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart has slammed the IOC’s decision, stating that “the decision to refuse her entry to the Games is incomprehensible and will undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future coming forward".
Stepanova was banned for two years in 2013 for abnormalities in her biological passport.
She finished an injured last in her 800m heat at the European Championships in Amsterdam earlier this month - competing as a neutral athlete.