PtG Article 28.04.2015

Russian whistleblowers take the stage at Play the Game 2015

In December 2014, revelations about widespread doping and cover-up in Russian and international athletics, led both WADA and the IAAF to initiate investigations. The journalist behind the documentary as well as the two Russians who blew the whistle on the doping practices will share their story at Play the Game 2015.

Some of the most courageous whistleblowers in international sport have confirmed their presence at the ninth edition of the Play the Game conference from 25-29 October in Aarhus, Denmark.

The Russian couple, Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanov, who blew the whistle on systemic doping and related corruption in athletics, will share their story accompanied by German tv journalist and doping hunter Hajo Seppelt.

In December 2014, German TV channel ARD aired a documentary that turned the world of athletics upside down. Through eyewitness accounts, German journalist Hajo Seppelt revealed how Russian anti-doping authorities, coaches and other officials have allegedly been falsifying tests and providing athletes with banned substances.

Many of the accusations were laid forward by former Russian Anti-doping Agency official Vitaly Stepanov and his wife, middle distance runner Yuliya Stepanova, who will both be joining the Play the Game conference and give their personal account of how these doping practices were carried out.

The documentary further alleged that people all the way up to the top of the sport at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) knew about and facilitated the doping practices, naming both IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev as well as Massata Papa Diack, an IAAF marketing consultant and son of IAAF president Lamine Diack.

The IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have started investigations based on the allegations raised in Hajo Seppelt’s documentary and both Massata Papa Diack and Balakhnichev have stepped down from their posts while the investigations are ongoing.

As the founding president of WADA and one of the most recognised names within international sport, Canadian lawyer and IOC member Richard W. Pound will head the independent WADA investigation into doping in Russian athletics, and Play the Game looks forward to welcoming back Pound to the 2015 conference. Due to the ongoing investigations, Pound will not address the actual case.

In 2013, Pound received the Play the Game Award in recognition of his uncompromising efforts in the fight for a cleaner and more democratic sports movement.  

Share your story at Play the Game 2015

Play the Game invites academics, journalists, sports officials and other stakeholders to share your story and contribute with knowledge, experience and opinions at Play the Game 2015. Your engagement is essential when looking for the solutions that society needs for sport and physical activity.

Learn more about how to submit an abstract or storyline to present at the conference.

The deadline for submitting an abstract or a storyline is 13 May 2015

Play the Game 2015


Banner _Højkant _330x 500pxPlay the Game 2015 will bring together leading journalists, authors, academics, officials and other stakeholders to discuss pressing issues for the world of sport.

To learn more about the conference visit the homepage at or sign up for Play the Game’s free newsletter to keep up to date with the latest news on the conference.