The entire Russia team has been banned from competing in next month’s Paralympic Games as punishment for the country’s systematic doping programme, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced.
The blanket ban on Russia, handed down on Sunday, is in sharp contrast to the earlier decision by the IOC to allow individual sports to decide whether Russians can compete in the Olympics.
IPC President Sir Philip Craven called Russia’s anti-doping system “broken, corrupted and entirely compromised”.
“The Russian Paralympic Committee are unable to ensure compliance with and enforcement of the IPC anti-doping code and the world anti-doping code within their own national jurisdiction and they can not fulfil its fundamental obligation as an IPC member,” added Craven.
“I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para athletes. Their medals-over-morals mentality disgusts me.”
Russia to appeal decision
Russia will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the decision, TASS news agency quoted Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko as saying.
The IPC strongly condemned Russia’s years of doping deception, including the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, that were 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.
Craven stressed that the decision was not about individual athletes cheating the system but about a “state-run system that cheats athletes”.
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from the IPC press conference in Rio de Janeiro, called the decision shocking.
“An absolutely scathing press conference was held by the IPC president with a scathing condemnation of state-sponsored doping in Russia,” he said.
“It’s shocking in many ways but also delivers a strong statement from the IPC that it will not tolerate doping.”
Russia finished second in the medal standings at the 2012 London Paralympics and had 267 athlete slots for Rio in 18 sports.