Russia calls Paralympics ban ‘grave human rights abuse’
Russia’s paralympic committee chief hits back at decision to ban the country from Paralympic Games over doping.
The decision to ban Russian athletes from next month’s Rio Paralympic Games over doping allegations was a grave abuse of human rights, according to the head of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC).
The entire Russia team was banned from competing in next month’s Games as punishment for the country’s systematic doping programme, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Sunday.
Vladimir Lukin, president of the Russian committee, told a news conference in Moscow on Monday that most Russian paralympians were not guilty of doping and that he was ready to prove that the team had fulfilled all its anti-doping obligations.
“The overwhelming majority of sportspeople who were prevented from taking part in the Games were absolutely clean sportspeople,” said Lukin, saying he was ready to provide evidence that the Russian team had run a tight anti-doping programme.
“I believe none of the national Paralympic committees were more rigorous and attentive in implementing the anti-doping program than the RPC. We are ready to prove that with evidence.”
On Sunday, Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko called the ban “beyond belief”.
“It’s an unprecedented decision,” Mutko told Interfax news agency.
“I don’t understand what it’s based on,” he added, promising “full support” for the Russian Paralympic Committee.
The blanket ban on Russia was in sharp contrast to the earlier decision by the IOC to allow individual sports to decide whether Russians can compete in the Olympics.
“We have to make the anti-doping system stronger and better,” Andrew Parsons, an IPC official, told Al Jazeera.
“We have to punish the cases as soon as we are aware of them and as soon as there’s enough evidence beyond reasonable doubt.”
IPC President Sir Philip Craven had earlier 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.
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“I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para athletes. Their medals-over-morals mentality disgusts me.”
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from the IPC press conference in Rio de Janeiro, called the decision shocking and a scathing condemnation of Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme.
“It’s shocking in many ways but also delivers a strong statement from the IPC that it will not tolerate doping,” he said.
“But now there’s a huge divide between the Olympics and Paralympics. The IPC agrees that its decision will not solve all the problems in the sport but hope it is a step in the right direction.”