Russian athletes have been banned from competing at the Rio Paralympics this summer, the IPC has announced. The decision was revealed by IPC president Sir Philip Craven at a press conference in Rio and follows three weeks of intense speculation about Russia’s right to compete on the world stage following a damning report into its state-run doping programme.
Craven said: “The IPC governing board has suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee with immediate effect. The anti-doping system in Russia broken, corrupted and completely compromised.”
Shortly after the announcement, TASS news agency reported that Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko had said the suspension would be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Although the ban was expected, given the noises coming from the IPC, the decision will still cause the International Olympic Committee huge embarrassment as it decided not to issue a blanket suspension.
That decision has been widely criticised, with the fall-out still causing confusion in Rio, although Russia’s Olympic team was finally confirmed at 278 athletes at the IOC’s press briefing on Sunday morning. The IPC’s decision to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee will please the many anti-doping experts and athletes’ groups that wanted sport to send a much clearer message to Russia, and other rogue states, on the importance of clean sport.
Craven added: “This decision has placed a huge burden upon all our shoulders, but it’s a decision we’ve had to take in the best interests of the Paralympic Movement. Ultimately, as the global governing body for the Paralympic Movement, it is our responsibility to ensure fair competition, so that athletes can have confidence that they are competing on a level playing field. This is vital to the integrity and credibility of Paralympic sport, and in order to achieve this it is fundamental that each member abides by the rules.”
The IPC has strongly condemned Russia’s years of doping deception, including the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, exposed by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren last month. McLaren reported that Russia’s state-backed doping led to samples from Paralympic athletes being made to disappear.
Russia finished second in the medal standings at the 2012 London Paralympics and had 267 athlete slots for Rio in 18 sports