“Since last December’s second McLaren report yet more evidence has come to light to support and add weight to his findings. If the Russian authorities believe his findings and evidence are not credible, then suitable supporting evidence and explanations should be provided to properly rebut them. So far nothing has been forthcoming."
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Wednesday (20 December) that it is maintaining the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) and will make a final decision on whether the National Paralympic Committee can compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in late January.
During a meeting of the IPC Governing Board on Tuesday (19 December), it also was decided to keep in place an interim measure for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four winter sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard. The measure, first announced in September, aims to preserve the ability of the RPC to enter its qualified athletes into the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games should it have its suspension lifted in time.
According to the IPC Taskforce that is responsible for monitoring the RPC’s progress in meeting the reinstatement criteria, five key criteria still need to be met before it will recommend lifting the suspension to the IPC Governing Board. They are:
• The approval of the RPC’s constitution by the IPC membership department
• Completion of all budget-related aspects of the reinstatement criteria
• Confirmation from the Russian Ministry of Sport that the required changes to the Russian legislation have been passed in order to allow for the proper enforcement of provisional and final suspensions against athlete support personnel (and reflection of those changes in the standard athlete support personnel agreements used by the Centre of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia (CSP)
• The full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
• The provision of an official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings made by Professor McLaren.
The IPC Taskforce's December 2017 update can be found here.
A formal request by the RPC for the removal of the reinstatement criteria relating to the reinstatement of RUSADA by WADA and the provision of a response adequately addressing the McLaren findings was also rejected by the IPC Governing Board on Tuesday.
Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “Although the IPC Governing Board continues to be impressed at the level of co-operation and progress made so far by the RPC, it is united in its decision to maintain the suspension as the reinstatement criteria have not yet been met in full.
“The RPC is making headway with the IPC on three of the five remaining reinstatement criteria, however sadly, and much to our growing disappointment and frustration, there is a lack of progress regarding an official response from the Russian authorities specifically and adequately addressing the McLaren findings and evidence.
“Since last December’s second McLaren report yet more evidence has come to light to support and add weight to his findings. If the Russian authorities believe his findings and evidence are not credible, then suitable supporting evidence and explanations should be provided to properly rebut them. So far nothing has been forthcoming.
“As the deadline for athlete entries for PyeongChang 2018 is 23 February, the IPC Governing Board’s next meeting between 26-28 January really is the last chance for Russia to meet the criteria in time for the Games.”
Andy Parkinson, IPC Taskforce Chair, said: “Since the last Taskforce report to the IPC Governing Board in September 2017, the RPC has continued to make good progress towards meeting the outstanding reinstatement criteria, including finalising the RPC Anti-Doping Rules and providing additional information in relation to personnel and governance matters as requested.
“Five requirements for reinstatement are outstanding with the RPC taking the necessary steps in respect of three of them. However, as stated on multiple occasions now, the IPC Taskforce still has significant concerns as to the lack of any material progress regarding the provision of an official response from the Russian authorities that adequately addresses the findings made by Professor McLaren. This is a requirement of the WADA roadmap for the reinstatement of RUSADA and a reinstatement criterion for the RPC.
“Added to this is the complete lack of information provided to us by the Russian Ministry of Sport regarding its own investigations into the matter, despite several requests from the IPC Taskforce. There is now a very strong likelihood that this unhelpful and evasive approach will lead to the RPC not meeting the reinstatement criteria in time for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.”
Chelsey Gotell, Chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council, said: “With the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games less than 80 days away it is really discouraging that despite the RPC’s best efforts, the lack of progress made by Russian authorities could cost the National Paralympic Committee its place at the Games.
“The Paralympic Games is the absolute pinnacle for every single Para athlete. Representing your country and flag on the world stage is like no other experience. At a Paralympics you want to compete against the best in the world and whether Russia competes or not at PyeongChang 2018 will have an impact on every single athlete heading to the Games.
“The IPC is keeping the door open for the Russian Paralympic Committee to compete at PyeongChang 2018 for as long as possible however January’s deadline is fast approaching.”
Please note: As a result of Wednesday’s announcement, an IPC press conference with IPC President Andrew Parsons scheduled for Friday 22 December in London has been cancelled. A press conference to announce January’s decision will be announced in early 2018.