The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Thursday (1 September) that it will not allow individual Russian athletes to participate as neutral athletes at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The decision followed individual requests by more than 175 Russian athletes to compete at the Paralympic Games, which open on 7 September.
The IPC's position is clear, and has been vindicated by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Panel’s recent judgement which, amongst other things, rejected the Russian Paralympic Committee's request to require the IPC to accept the entries of individual Russian athletes who could show they were “clean”. The judgement also found:
• For Paralympic sport to be fair, everyone must play by the same rules prescribed by the IPC, including the IPC Anti-Doping Code.
• Therefore, each individual athlete must sign up to submit to his/her National Paralympic Committee's rules, and each National Paralympic Committee must be ready, willing, and able to enforce those rules (including the IPC Anti-Doping Code) effectively within its own national jurisdiction.
• The findings of Professor McLaren (which were not disputed by the Russian Paralympic Committee) exposed a longstanding and sophisticated State-controlled doping programme in Russian sport (including Para sport).
• In such circumstances, it is necessary, proportionate and lawful for the IPC to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee's membership rights, including the right to enter athletes in the Paralympic Games, until the Russian Paralympic Committee can demonstrate that it is able to enforce the IPC Anti-Doping Code effectively in Russia, without interference from the Russian Government.
• In short, the ineligibility of Russian athletes for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games is the inevitable consequence of the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee.
On Wednesday (31 August), the Swiss Federal Tribunal dismissed the Russian Paralympic Committee's request for provisional measures to allow Russian Para athletes to participate in the Paralympic Games pending determination of the Russian Paralympic Committee’s challenge to the CAS decision.
Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: "The IPC has considerable sympathy for all of the Russian athletes who are now unable to participate in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Indeed, the main goal of the IPC is to enable Para athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world. Tragically, however, the Russian authorities have denied their athletes this chance through their actions.
“Once the Russian Paralympic Committee demonstrates that it will be able in the future to enforce the IPC Anti-Doping Code vigorously and effectively, without interference, the IPC will be glad to welcome Russian athletes back to international competition."