Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova said through a third party that her email account -- and the account where she enters whereabouts information to the World Anti-Doping Agency -- has been hacked, potentially compromising her undisclosed location in the United States and that of her husband and young son.
Journalists from multiple international media outlets received an unsigned email early Saturday morning from a private Switzerland-based group that has been supporting Stepanova and her husband Vitaly Stepanov with a fundraising effort also endorsed by several past and current prominent Olympic athletes.
The Stepanovs plan to make public comments on Monday ahead of Wednesday's preliminary heats of the Olympic women's 800-meter race, which Stepanova had hoped to enter as a neutral athlete following the suspension of the Russian track and field federation.
Patrick K. Magyar, one of the coordinators for the group, confirmed the email's authorship to ESPN but declined any further comment about the precautions the couple are taking.
"Yuliya's e-mail account was hacked, followed a few hours later by a hack of her ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration and Management System) account, i.e. her anti-doping control account at WADA,'' the email said. "WADA confirmed that her account was the only athlete account that was hacked, which makes clear that Yuliya was victim of an attempt to uncover her whereabouts.''
In a statement, WADA confirmed that Stepanova's password had been obtained and said no other athlete accounts had been accessed.
Vitaly Stepanov, who worked for the now-discredited Russian Anti-Doping Agency, corresponded with WADA for four years starting in 2010 about his observations of doping and corruption in Russian track and field. Yuliya Stepanova joined her husband as an informant after being suspended for biological passport abnormalities in 2013.
The Stepanovs fled Russia in advance of a November 2014 German television documentary that used their secretly recorded footage and other information to expose extensive organized doping in Russian track and field. They lived briefly in Berlin before coming to the United States in late 2015, and were key witnesses in a WADA investigation.
The IAAF, track and field's international governing body, allowed Stepanova to compete at the European Championships in July. She was hampered by an injury and hobbled to the finish of the 800-meter event. Despite support from the IAAF and WADA, the International Olympic Committee denied Stepanova's request to compete at the Rio Games.
An independent online petition to appeal the IOC decision started by a German citizen, Kaj Beuter, has collected more than 270,000 signatures, according to the email.