Russia will not compete at the Paralympics in September after it failed in an appeal against its exclusion from the Games, the court of arbitration for sport has announced.
The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August, as exclusively revealed by the Observer, due to its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code.
Sir Philip Craven, the IPC President, said: “We are greatly encouraged that the Cas Panel has upheld the IPC governing board’s unanimous decision to hold the Russian Paralympic Committee accountable for its membership responsibilities and obligations.
“Today’s decision underlines our strong belief that doping has absolutely no place in Paralympic sport, and further improves our ability to ensure fair competition and a level playing field for all Para athletes around the world.
“Although we are pleased with the decision, it is not a day for celebration and we have enormous sympathy for the Russian athletes who will now miss out on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. It is a sad day for the Paralympic movement, but we hope also a new beginning. We hope this decision acts as a catalyst for change in Russia and we can welcome the Russian Paralympic Committee back as a member safe in the knowledge that it is fulfilling its obligations to ensure fair competition for all.
“As an autonomous organisation with a different governance structure to the IOC, the IPC’s decision was based on the fact that there is one sole IPC member in Russia responsible for both winter and summer Para sport. We found that member – the Russian Paralympic Committee – not to be fulfilling its obligations in regards to the IPC Anti-Doping Code and World Anti-Doping Code and therefore decided to take the best course of action for the Paralympic movement.
Craven’s remarks came after information was provided to the IPC by Richard McLaren, the Canadian author of a World Anti-Doping Agency report into Russia’s state-run doping programme. McLaren revealed that 11 positive drugs tests from Russian Paralympic athletes were covered up by the Moscow anti-doping laboratory on orders from Russia’s ministry of sport between 2012 and 2015. He also confirmed that 18 samples from Russian athletes were swapped for clean ones during the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi.
At those winter Games, Russia won nearly half of the gold medals on offer. But the IPC’s hard-line response to Russia was at odds with the approach taken by much of the rest of the international sporting community before the Rio Olympics. The International Olympic Committee opted for the compromise of letting each federation that runs an Olympic sport decide on the eligibility of Russian athletes for Rio.
Only the International Association of Athletics Federations and International Weightlifting Federation took such a strong stance against Russia – and the world’s largest country ended up fielding a 278-strong team at the 2016 Olympics. The World Olympians Association, the umbrella group that represents national associations of former Olympians, also called the IPC stance “inconsistent and unfair” and said global responsibility could not be achieved without examining all individual cases.