Putin: Russian Paralympic ban 'cynical & immoral'

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a personal send-off for members of the Russian Olympic team at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. © Maxim Shemetov
The ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the Russian Paralympic team ban is cynical and immoral, President Vladimir Putin has said, adding that Russia will not accept accusations of doping without proof.

Speaking to the Russian Olympic team - which has recently returned from the Rio 2016 Games - Putin congratulated the athletes on their performance.

With Russia’s track and field team banned from this summer’s Olympics, the nation still finished fourth in the medal standings, behind the US, Great Britain and China. The country won 19 gold, 18 silver and 19 bronze medals.

I want to thank all of you [the Olympic team] for passing a severe test with dignity. You have shown the highest skill, displayed endurance, and confirmed the strong position of Russia in the world of sport,” Putin said.

The president added that Russia will hold a competition similar to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games for the athletes who have been banned.

I’d like to address our Paralympic team: we will support you and will hold a special competition where you will show your skills,” Putin said. The prizes and compensation will be equivalent to those at the Rio Paralympic Games, he said.

"The decision to disqualify the Paralympic team [from Rio] is beyond law and morality," he said. “I feel sorry for those who make such decisions, because they cannot understand that [such decisions] are humiliating them."

The world is now witnessing how the principles of sport and the Olympics are being suppressed by politics, Putin said, adding that Moscow “does not and will not accept any accusations” towards Russian athletes unless they are supported by proof and evidence.

CAS on Tuesday rejected an appeal against a decision to bar all Russian athletes from the Rio Paralympic Games, set to take place September 7-18. The appeal had been filed by the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC).

Putin said that Russia will improve its anti-doping system. “We will do it in an absolutely transparent way, and this will involve international specialists,” he said.