‘We’re disappointed by the IPC’s decision’ – Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov
“A positive aspect [of the IPC ruling] is that all Paralympic athletes competing in qualifying events will continue performing,” Kolobkov told TASS on Wednesday. “The IPC has postponed making a decision on Russian participation in the 2018 Paralympics until January. In our view, this is a mere technical decision, as it is clear that the IPC will discuss all the issues together with us.”
“We are disappointed by the IPC’s ruling to maintain the suspension of the RPC, as it has fulfilled all the commitments,” Kolobkov added. “I think it is unacceptable that the IPC has made the reinstatement of the RPC strongly dependent on the work of Russia’s Investigative Committee and acceptance of the McLaren report findings.”
On Wednesday, the IPC ruled to keep in force the suspension of the RPC, adding that the decision regarding Russian athletes’ participation at the 2018 PyeongChang Games will be announced in January. IPC President Andrew Parsons noted that despite considerable progress made by the RPC, its membership in the body cannot be restored as several reinstatement criteria remain unmet.
“Although the IPC Governing Board continues to be impressed at the level of cooperation 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,” Parsons said.
“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,” he added.
Acceptance of the McLaren report findings and restoration of the Russian Anti-Doping Association (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been named the key factors of the RPC’s reinstatement. In 2016 the IPC, headed by former President Philip Craven, imposed a blanket ban on the entire Russian Paralympic squad ahead of the Summer Olympics in Rio and also suspended the RPC’s membership in the organization as punishment for alleged systematic doping violations indicated in the McLaren report.
In September, despite the ‘frozen’ status of the RPC, the Paralympic governing body allowed Russian team members to qualify for Paralympic events in alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding under a neutral flag.
Two weeks ago, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) barred the Russian team from the 2018 Winter Games for “systematic doping manipulations.”
Clean Russian athletes, who have never been implicated in doping cases, are permitted to participate in the PyeongChang Games as independent or ‘neutral’ competitors named ‘Olympic athletes from Russia.’ Those wishing to compete in South Korea are prohibited from displaying any Russian symbols or emblems. A specially appointed doping review panel will examine Russian athletes’ requests before giving final approval to participate at the Games.