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Sports

Entire Russian Team Banned From Competing in Rio Paralympics

Paralympics President Philip Craven said, "I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para athletes"

Sergei Tetiukhin carries the flag of Russia during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, photo: AP/MattSlocum
1 year ago

RIO DE JANEIRO — After escaping a blanket ban from the Olympics, Russia was kicked out of the upcoming Paralympics on Sunday as the ultimate punishment for the state running a doping operation that polluted sports by prioritizing “medals over morals.”

Paralympic leaders expelled one of its most significant members as the IOC announced that 278 Russians have been given clearance to compete at the Olympics after their eligibility in Rio de Janeiro was left to individual sports.

Russia’s years of doping deception, including tampering with samples at the 2014 Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, were outlined last month by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.

“The facts really do hurt,” IPC President Philip Craven said. “They are an unprecedented attack on every clean athlete who competes in sport. The anti-doping system in Russia is broken, corrupted and entirely compromised.”

In contrast to IOC President Thomas Bach, who opposed the “nuclear option” of banning Russia ahead of Friday’s Olympic opening ceremony, Craven directly condemned the Russian state’s involvement in doping but stopped short of blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Tragically, this situation is not about athletes cheating a system, but about a state-run system that is cheating the athletes,” Craven said. “The doping culture that is polluting Russian sport stems from the Russian government and has now been uncovered in not one, but two independent reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.”

While expressing sympathy for the clean athletes who will suffer by missing out on the chance to compete, Craven denounced Russia for still not complying with anti-doping rules.

“I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para athletes,” Craven said. “Their medals over morals mentality disgusts me.”

Russia finished second in the medal standings at the 2012 London Paralympics and had 267 athlete slots for Rio in 18 sports, which will only now be filled in September if an appeal is successful.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said banning Russia from the Paralympics means “a large number of athletes will suffer — disabled people.”

“We will fight for our Paralympians,” Mutko, who the IOC banned from attending the Olympics, told the Tass news agency.

Mikhail Terentyev, head of Russian Paralympic Committee, said the IPC decision was a “huge injustice.”

“The Paralympic Games without Russians are games in a cut-down form,” Terentyev told Tass. “Our team is one of the best in the world and its results are proof. We were first at the games in 2014 and second at the games in London. What the IPC is doing is a breach of all possible rights of clean athletes.”

The Paralympic movement is anticipating further evidence of positive tests being covered up that McLaren did not uncover in his initial 76-day investigation. The IPC said it has evidence of manipulated doping tests relating to 44 athletes, including 27 from samples from competitors in eight sports that are part of the Paralympic program.

“It shows a blatant disregard for the health and well-being of athletes and, quite simply, has no place in Paralympic sport,” Craven said. “Their thirst for glory at all costs has severely damaged the integrity and image of all sport.”

Unlike the IOC, which doesn’t run any sports federations, the IPC does govern some disciplines.

“There are clearly very, very different circumstances from them to us,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

ROB HARRIS, AP Sports Writer

 

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