IPC: RPC still suspended but decision about Russians in PyeongChang postponed
Paralympics - 20 Dec 2017
The Russian Paralympic Committee remains suspended, the International Paralympic Committee announced today, but a potentially contentious decision on whether Russian athletes will take part in the PyeongChang 2018 winter Paralympic Games has been postponed until late January.
The games are scheduled for 8 to 18 March.
In the meantime, an interim measure is being maintained enabling Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four winter sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard.
The IPC said in a statement today: “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.”
The measures compare with those announced two weeks ago by the International Olympic Committee, which ruled that selected ‘clean’ Russian athletes can compete in February’s winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, but only under the name ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’, wearing uniforms bearing this name, and competing under the Olympic flag, with the Olympic anthem to be played at any ceremony.
The IPC said that its taskforce responsible for monitoring the RPC’s progress in meeting reinstatement criteria has determined that “five key criteria still need to be met before it will recommend lifting the suspension to the IPC Governing Board.”
• “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)
• “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 winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia have been the subject of a major investigation into an alleged doping programme in the country involving over 1,000 athletes competing in summer, winter and Paralympic sports (including non-Olympic sports).
The athletes were involved in, or benefited from, manipulations to conceal positive tests between 2011 and 2015, according to the independent McLaren report, commissioned by WADA.
Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC, 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 from 26-28 January really is the last chance for Russia to meet the criteria in time for the Games.”
Andy Parkinson, chair of the IPC taskforce, added: “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.”
The IPC imposed a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in the wake of the scandal. This compared with the IOC’s controversial decision to hand to the international federations concerned the decision over which Russian athletes were eligible to compete at the games.
• Just one athlete, Slovenia’s Teja Gregorin, who competed in five biathlon races, has been sanctioned after re-testing of samples from the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics, the IOC announced today.
This compares with dozens of athletes that were sanctioned after re-testing of samples from both the Being 2008 and London 2012 games.
Gregorin has been disqualified from the events, along with the Slovenian relay team, of which Gregorin was a part, that competed in the women's 4x6km relay event.
• The International Tennis Federation has renewed its sponsorship agreement with NEC Corporation as title sponsor of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, the ITF’s year-ending wheelchair singles championship, for a further three-year period from 2018 through 2020.
Next year, NEC will celebrate 25 years as title sponsor.
Under the agreement, NEC Corporation will also continue as an international partner of UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour events in key markets.