"The winter World Para Sports where Russian athletes meeting the pre-determined conditions will be allowed to compete as neutrals are alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard. The IPC also hopes this decision will further encourage the RPC and crucially the Russian authorities to meet the remaining reinstatement criteria as soon as possible."
Good afternoon everybody and thank you for taking the time to be with us for this update regarding the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC).
Last Sunday (3 September) the IPC received an update from the IPC Taskforce Chairperson Andy Parkinson regarding the RPC’s progress in meeting the reinstatement criteria.
The IPC Taskforce, a group of five people, was appointed last December to assist the Governing Board in monitoring the RPC’s progress in meeting the reinstatement criteria. It has so far provided three updates in February, May and now September.
Overall, the IPC Taskforce highlighted that they are impressed at the significant progress the RPC has made in meeting the reinstatement criteria since May, initiating a real change in culture within Russia regarding anti-doping matters.
The Taskforce is also encouraged by the steps taken by the RPC, and by the constructive dialogue between the Taskforce and the RPC Co-ordination Committee.
In particular, the Taskforce said it was pleased with the recent progress made in the areas of anti-doping education, the launch of the RPC’s reporting doping hotline and various improvements and developments relating to testing.
As a result of the RPC’s progress only seven criteria remain, five of which we believe can be fulfilled in the near future barring any unexpected developments.
• The finalisation of the RPC Anti-Doping Rules, to be approved by the Taskforce
• The approval of the RPC’s constitution by the IPC membership department
• Completion of all budget-related aspects of the reinstatement criteria
• The provision and confirmation of certain additional information by the RPC regarding personnel and governance (reinstatement criteria 10 and 14.2), as specified by the Taskforce
• The provision of further information relating to the composition of the RPC board, to be defined by the Taskforce (reinstatement criterion 12)
The remaining two criteria - the full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the acknowledgment and acceptance of the McLaren Report - are interlinked and now extremely critical.
In all three reports it has submitted to the IPC Governing Board and the RPC, the Taskforce has raised its major 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.
As has been repeatedly communicated by the Taskforce, Professor McLaren's findings must be specifically addressed, whether by acknowledging the findings and tackling the problems, or by properly rebutting the findings. This is a fundamental requirement, as unless and until the problems that led to the RPC’s suspension are fully understood and addressed, they cannot be fixed for the future. The Taskforce noted that there has presently been no such acknowledgement or acceptance, nor any proper rebuttal. Time is of the essence for the Russian authorities with the WADA Foundation Board meeting now less than three months away.
As a result of the IPC Taskforce’s update and its recommendation, the IPC Governing Board has decided to maintain the suspension of the RPC with a further review due in November 2017 following the WADA Foundation Board meeting.
However, in recognition of the fact that the RPC only has seven criteria still to meet, the Board has put in place a limited interim measure for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four sports for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. This is with immediate effect and subject to Russian athletes meeting certain conditions that we have published.
By doing so we are aiming to avoid a situation whereby Russian athletes have insufficient events left to qualify for PyeongChang 2018 should the RPC meet the reinstatement criteria in full and have its suspension lifted in time for the Games.
The IPC also hopes this decision will further encourage the RPC and crucially the Russian authorities to meet the remaining reinstatement criteria as soon as possible.
The winter World Para Sports where Russian athletes meeting the pre-determined conditions will be allowed to compete as neutrals are alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard. Under the sport rules for Para ice hockey, Russia has already missed the opportunity to qualify for PyeongChang 2018.
Any Russian athlete wishing to participate as a neutral in qualification events for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games must meet the terms of the limited interim measure and a number of participation conditions determined by the IPC.
Among the requirements of the limited interim measure is the need to be licensed, eligible and in compliance with the anti-doping testing requirements set out in reinstatement criterion 22(b). The latter stipulates that athletes must have undergone at least two anti-doping tests during the six months immediately preceding the relevant event.
In addition, all provisions in the respective sport/competition rules and regulations that are applicable to athletes/support personnel will apply equally to neutral athletes/support personnel.
Under no circumstances will officials, members or other representatives of Russian Ministries or the RPC Governing Board be permitted to attend such events in any capacity, including as support personnel and no accreditation will be granted to any such persons.
I must stress that this is a limited interim measure will have effect only up until a further review by the IPC Taskforce and the IPC Governing Board following the WADA Foundation Board meeting in November 2017. Following such review, this limited interim measure may be withdrawn, maintained or revised, as the IPC Governing Board sees fit and following a recommendation of the IPC Taskforce.
To finish, you may be asking, why have we taken this path now, why could we not have taken this route for Rio 2016?
Well the truth is that when the RPC was suspended in August 2016, Professor McLaren’s evidence had shown the anti-doping system to be totally corrupted.
The difference thirteen months on is that we now have evidence of a significant transformation both culturally and practically in how the RPC approaches anti-doping activities.
We also have more confidence in the anti-doping education and testing of Para athletes in Russia now that RUSADA is planning and co-ordinating testing under the supervision of international experts and the UK Anti-Doping Agency.
This is why we will now permit the RPC to enter athletes in to qualifying events for PyeongChang 2018, pending a further update from the IPC Taskforce in November.