On Monday 29 January, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced that although it was maintaining the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), it will allow eligible Russian Para athletes who meet strict conditions to compete in five sports under the name Neutral Paralympic Athlete (NPA) at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
This decision was taken in recognition of the progress made by the RPC in improving its anti-doping activities.
Para athletes will be allowed to compete in alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, snowboard and wheelchair curling. Under the sport rules for Para ice hockey, an NPA team could not be considered as Russia had missed the opportunity to qualify.
Under the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games Qualification Guide that was first published on 30 May 2016 and includes details of maximum athlete quotas for each sport, only unused slots - some of which have been returned by National Paralympic Committees - will be redistributed to eligible Neutral Paralympic Athletes.
With all 100 quota places in men’s Nordic skiing already allocated to 93 qualified Para athletes and seven Para athletes who are receiving bipartite slots, there are no slots available for Neutral Paralympic Athletes in this sport. In addition, 18 Para athletes from other countries who applied for bipartite slots in the sport will also miss out.
On Monday 21 November 2016, the IPC informed the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) of the reinstatement criteria it must meet in order to have its IPC membership lifted.
Developed in consultation with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the reinstatement criteria identify the core, high-level requirements the RPC must meet in order to be reinstated as an IPC member.
Supporting the reinstatement criteria are the underlying verification criteria, which set out certain specific matters that need to be rectified by the RPC.
To assist with the reinstatement process, the IPC appointed a Taskforce that will work with the RPC and assist the IPC in determining whether the reinstatement criteria and underlying verification criteria have been met. The IPC Taskforce is headed by independent chairperson Andy Parkinson, the Chief Executive Officer of British Rowing, who previously served for six years in a similar position at UK Anti-Doping (UKAD). He is joined by Shin Asakawa, Chief Executive of the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA); Akaash Maharaj, Chief Executive of the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption; Sarah Fussek, FIS Anti-Doping Co-ordinator; and Peter Van de Vliet, the IPC’s Scientific and Medical Director. Liz Riley of Bird & Bird LLP serves as legal counsel to the IPC Taskforce.
IPC Taskforce progress reports
The IPC's decision to suspend the RPC
The IPC suspended the RPC on 7 August 2016 due to its inability to fulfil its IPC membership obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is a signatory) and the IPC Anti-Doping Code.
The suspension followed the publication by Professor Richard McLaren on 18 July 2016 of his Independent Person report. The report looked into allegations of state-sponsored doping and manipulation of the doping control process within Russia, including in relation to the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games (the McLaren Report). The McLaren Report is now available in English and Russian (see links on this page).
Given the references in the report to Para sport, on the same day the IPC contacted Professor McLaren to request further information and data regarding the extent to which the scheme identified extended to the doping and covering up of doping of Russian Para athletes. Following further investigations and analysis, Professor McLaren confirmed that the key findings from the McLaren Report (summarised below) also applied to Russian Para athletes. Those athletes included, in particular, Russian medallists from the London 2012 Paralympic Games and Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, as well as athletes on the RPC’s short list for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Professor McLaren's key findings (established beyond reasonable doubt) were as follows:
1. From at least late 2011 until August 2015, a Russian State-directed failsafe doping system was operating within the (then WADA-accredited) Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, for the protection of doped Russian athletes (including Para athletes). Further to the so-called disappearing positive methodology, if the initial analytical screen of a sample indicated an adverse finding, the laboratory would then contact the Russian Ministry of Sport for instruction. Once the athlete was identified, the Ministry would then issue a ‘save’ or ‘quarantine’ order (with saved samples being reported as clean, and quarantined samples being processed in the usual way). In effect, the Ministry had a veto over whether or not prohibited substances found in samples would be pursued.
2. During the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a separate sophisticated doping system was operating inside the satellite Sochi Anti-Doping Laboratory. This system relied on a unique sample swapping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes (including Para athletes) to compete at the Games. This involved the samples of selected Russian athletes being passed through a hole in the wall of the laboratory, where the bottles were then opened and the dirty urine replaced with clean urine (usually pre-collected from the same athlete), and the bottles then returned for analysis.
3. The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athletes’ (including Para athletes) analytical results or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Centre of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia (CSP), and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories.
Following lengthy deliberations, and after providing the RPC with a full opportunity to present its case (both in writing and in person), the IPC Governing Board (in its capacity as the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement, and the organiser of the Paralympic and Winter Paralympic Games) decided unanimously to suspend the RPC from membership (see IPC President Sir Philip Craven’s remarks here).
The RPC’s suspension was based on its fundamental inability (due to, among other things, government interference) to comply with its core IPC membership obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory) and the IPC Anti-Doping Code, and to ensure that those rules are properly implemented and enforced within its own national jurisdiction. Those responsibilities also include an obligation to 'vigorously pursue all potential anti-doping rule violations within its jurisdiction'.
This was not a decision that was taken lightly, and the matter was considered at great length by the IPC. Ultimately, however, the IPC Governing Board was unanimous that, given the gravity of the situation, the only appropriate response was a suspension of the RPC’s membership, with all resulting consequences. In particular it was felt that it was vital to send an unequivocal and uncompromising message that such conduct will not be tolerated, in order to safeguard clean sport and the integrity, credibility and values of the Paralympic Movement, and to guarantee a level playing field for all. Furthermore, in order to prevent such utter corruption of the anti-doping system through government interference, the IPC felt that it had no choice but to take the strongest of stands, so that the Russian government understands that its interference with the enforcement of the IPC’s anti-doping rules in Russia will not be tolerated. Otherwise such corruption will simply continue unchecked, and no one will be able to have any confidence in the integrity of Russian Para sport.
The IPC’s decision was accordingly not about sanctioning individual Russian athletes (or punishing them for the sins of others), but was instead about the suspension of a member due to its catastrophic inability to meet its anti-doping obligations (on which fair competition depends), with the consequent exclusion of its athletes (who are otherwise permitted to participate because they are affiliated to a body that has committed to enforce the rules). The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) consistently has confirmed the legality of this approach, and the same approach also was adopted by the IOC when it prevented the South African National Olympic Committee from entering any athletes into the Olympic Games between 1964 and 1988 due to the South African government's apartheid policy.
Following its decision, the IPC then agreed for the RPC’s appeal to be heard by an independent CAS panel. After both written and oral submissions, the CAS panel unanimously upheld the IPC’s decision to suspend the RPC from membership, with all resulting consequences. The full reasoned decision is now available, and the IPC also has had the decision translated into Russian (see links on this page). Importantly, the CAS ruled that ‘the IPC did not violate any procedural rule in dealing with the disciplinary process leading to the RPC’s suspension and that the decision to ban the RPC was made in accordance with the IPC Rules and was proportionate in the circumstances’.
In accordance with the IPC Constitution (article 9.6), the effect of the RPC’s suspension is that the RPC loses all rights and privileges of IPC membership, including the right to be heard or vote at meetings of members (except with respect to its suspension), the right to enter athletes in competitions sanctioned by the IPC, and the right to participate in IPC activities.
In order to assist the RPC in bringing about the significant changes needed, and in conjunction with WADA and others, the IPC now is in the process of producing further detailed criteria identifying certain key matters that need to be rectified in order for the RPC to fulfil its membership obligations (one of which will be that the RPC can show that it and the IPC can carry out their anti-doping activities in Russia without outside interference).
Please find below the "McLaren Independent Person Report" and the CAS Ruling of 23 August in English and Russian.