Life on the Run

Life on the Run

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age of 86. Now on BBC News, the story of Yulia


Stepanova, the Russian athlete who exposed the state-sponsored doping


scandal in Life On The Run. Yulia Stepanova, Russian champion,


world-class athlete turned whistle-blower. Her contribution to


sport and the fight against doping is beyond comparison. Nobody has


done more for the anti-doping movement. Branded a traitor in her


motherland. She and her husband exposed cheating in Russia on a


colossal scale. Now they live in secret, fearing for their lives.


Unlikely to ever return home. The young family seem completely at


home in this average American claim. No one gives them a second glance.


This is Yulia Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov, Amberley athlete and an


anti-doping officer. -- and elite athlete. Their shocking revelations


exposed the dirty secrets of Russian athletics. Three damning reports


commissioned by the world anti-doping agency. Much of them


based on the testimony of this couple. It found that many athletes


have taken illegal drugs between 2011 and 2015. Four years sports


competitions have been hijacked by the Russians. Coaches and athletes


have been playing on an uneven field. Sports fans and spectators


have been deceived. It is time that stops. This yes, stops. For Russia


there was humiliation and a ban on hundreds of athletes from the view


Olympics. But President Vladimir Putin remains defiant. He believes


his sports men and women happen victims of double standards and


political interference. I travelled to the US to meet them,


I can see exactly where. They have spent the last two years staying


under the radar. -- I can see. Why did they take such extraordinary


risks that force them to lead a life on the run? Thousands of miles from


home, they may never return to Russia.


Yulia Stepanova was brought up on the edge of an industrial estate in


western Russia. To begin with, she did not have time for running. In


fact, she did not have much time for the childhood at all.


This couple worked in a tyre factory and when they were not on the


production line they were busy tending to their allotment to feed


the family. But when she was 13, Yulia Stepanova


defied her father in came here. Athletics became her escape. She


began to excel at the hundred metres, winning regions all over --


winning races all over the region. But then she got a chest infection


and spent three months in hospital. Getting back on form was going to be


a problem. Her coach, however, had a solution. The Gloucester Road. The


banned drug helped her cut a remarkable three seconds of her


personal best -- to trust a run. In the Russian sports system there


is very little space for personality or individuality. It is like the


Army. Very soon Russian coaches start to use performance enhancing


drugs. If you want to survive in sport you need to be inside the


system. There are very few opportunities to go up in Russian


sports and not to be inside the system. In many ways, Russian


athletes are part of the system. Once she was on the national team,


she was sent to see a sports scientist who knew about doping.


Then a chance encounter changed everything. At him race meeting, she


met Vitaly Stepanov, one person in the system who was not prepared to


turn a blind eye. He was an idealistic young officer at Russia's


anti-doping agency, but he got the inside track on his very first date


with Yulia Stepanova. When I met Yulia Stepanova and had


an honest conversation with her I understood that I was an idiot. We


were not there to fix it we were there to follow the goal of Russian


sports, which is to win medals. The Russian anti-doping agency was part


of that. A dirty athlete and a crusader for a clean sport, it was


unlikely combination. But two months later they got married. Somehow they


stuck together despite frequent rows about Yulia Stepanova's doping. He


believes in clean sport and is totally committed to it. He sees


corruption and he is told that is how it is and you're not want to


change it. He realises that he is probably not, but he faces a choice,


do I confront this and try to expose it or do I just go with the tide. He


decided to confront it, to swim against the tide. So Vitaly Stepanov


wrote to the Russian anti-doping agency about the culture. You cannot


make a mistake in the 800 metres, it is fatal. It is the fastest tactical


race in the programme. Meanwhile his doping wife went from strength to


strength. At the World Championships in South Korea, Yulia Stepanova


competed alongside some of the finest runners in the sport. But her


performance arose suspicions. I thought she would not be a threat at


all. I led the hallway in the semifinal and just at the end I got


taken over by two girls, one of whom was Yulia Stepanova. It is the


Russian showing better form here... I was very shocked to see her in


front of me. She may have done enough. We will


see how the semifinals pan out... After the event she looked very


guilty. I said to my husband that I thought she was cheating, I think


she looks very sorry for me. From that moment on she almost could not


look me in the eyes. Eventually, the authorities called


top. The international athletics Federation gave her a two-year


suspension. After irregularities were detected in her blood samples.


She joined Vitaly Stepanov by writing to the world anti-doping


agency, but her ten page confession was ignored. She needed more proof.


She began secretly taping officials and fellow athletes on her mobile


phone. We cannot play the audio from this footage because of ongoing


legal appeals. Here the notorious Doctor boasts how his drugs have


turbo-charged her performance. After the recording was it on German


TV, there was finally action. The agency said it did not have the


legal powers to investigate the allegations before this point. Since


then they have commissioned the report sent to Russian doping. --


the reports. For those security the couple left their homeland and now


live in the US, leading a hand to mouth existence. For safety reasons


we agreed that we would not film in their place, they are worried about


their security. I can tell you that it is in a local housing block in a


not very nice part of town, it is very basic.


Training alone is far from ideal for an athlete athlete 's -- and elite


athlete. She had hoped to compete under the mutual flag at the Rio


Olympics, but the IOC refused because of her doping past. World


sporting agencies have been lukewarm in their responses. Some people


would prefer that we do not exist and that we did not share what we


know. There are corrupt people in those organisations and their goals


are not to promote Olympic values, they are all is to steal money. The


classic sports structure and system does not want whistle-blowers coming


for word because it brings bad news about sport, and that is contrary to


what they want and it ultimately hurts the brand. In Russia, the


whistle-blower got a cold reception. The Kremlin called her a Judas and


the press attacked as a money grabbing traitor. Online, some even


called for her execution. Russian history is full of stories of


betrayal. There is a famous one about a schoolboy who informed on


his own barber to Josef Stalin's police. Some are calling Yulia


Stepanova a modern-day example, selling out her fellow athletes and


her country. Reactions have been a mess of anger,


disbelief and denial. The couple said they doping


programme was approved at the very top. This is backed up by lab tests,


forensic reports, and interviews with other insiders.


Despite denials of state involvement, this official


laboratory covered up and destroyed hundreds of samples. It lost its


accreditation and has been out of action for more than one year. This


Moscow lawyer represents several athletes accused of doping. His


clients dismiss the evidence and call Yulia Stepanova cheating


hypocrite. She is not a hero because there is nothing brave in it. The


main motive for her is the a must for any other athlete who is


involved in doping, it is a financial motive. But a journalist


who has been investigating doping for decades, and exposed Lance


Armstrong, police people have misunderstood and undervalued


hurdles in Russia and in the wider world. Yulia Stepanova that this in


return for nothing except agree. -- did this. Some people have said that


she is a dope, but those people are showing a lack of empathy for where


she has come from and what she has done. If they bothered to look


closely at her story they would have nothing but unqualified admiration


for her. Nobody has done more for the anti-doping movement, no one


comes within 1 million miles. It is an acknowledgement to get your


teeth. President Putin says his revamped anti-doping programme will


be in place early in 2017. The parliament has passed a new law they


could send drug pushing coaches to jail. Many officers have been sacked


and other reforms promised. And yet the peer who forced the nation to


confront this deep-rooted corruption are still seen as enemies of the


state. They betrayed the Russian doping system and I am completely


fine with that. -- we betrayed. Yulia Stepanova hopes to compete in


the World Championships in London next summer. I have never been in


New York and I have never... In a country she does not know, with a


language she does not speak, her life has been turned upside down.


But she has few regrets about the turbulence she has brought to world


athletics. She has exposed an ugly truth that has gone on spoken for


years. No matter what her detractors say,


Yulia Stepanova will surely be known as one of the greatest


whistle-blowers in the history of sport.


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