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30 Russian Paralympians approved to compete as neutrals at PyeongChang

30 Russian Paralympians approved to compete as neutrals at PyeongChang
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has approved 30 Russian athletes for the 2018 PyeongChang Games, where they will be obliged to perform under the name ‘Neutral Paralympic Athletes’ (NPA).

All 30 athletes met the qualification criteria for the Games and fulfil the strict eligibility conditions for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals,” the IPC said in a statement on Tuesday.

This means that all athletes selected for PyeongChang 2018 are part of a registered testing pool, have undergone at least two anti-doping tests in the last six months prior to the Games and participated in, and successfully completed, a Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) anti-doping education session.”

So far, the approved delegation of the Russian Paralympic squad includes 10 alpine skiers, 12 cross-country skiers, three snowboarders, and five wheelchair curlers. Six guides were also allowed to assist the performance of the visually impaired athletes. The IPC also granted Olympic entry to 39 Russian support personnel and team officials.

However, male cross-country skiers were denied permission to compete “as all 100 quota places in men’s Nordic skiing have already been allocated to athletes who have either qualified or received a bipartite invitation, there are no slots available for male Neutral Paralympic Athletes,” the statement said. The Paralympic ice-hockey tournament will also be without an NPA team, as the squad has already missed the deadline to qualify for PyeongChang.

The IPC is still reviewing entry applications filed by several Russian athletes expressing willingness to compete at PyeongChang 2018. The final list of the eligible NPA athletes will be announced on March 1, when Paralympic participants will be registered in PyeongChang.

In January, the IPC ruled to keep in force suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) allowing, however, Russian athletes able to provide evidence of a clean doping record to compete at the Games under a neutral flag.

The IPC implemented sanctions against the RPC in 2016, after Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren claimed in his report that a total 35 Russian Paralympic drug tests “disappeared” over a four-year period.

READ MORE: Russian fans banned from waving flags at PyeongChang Paralympics

Following the publicaton of the report, the IPC imposed a blanket ban on the Russian Paralympic squad on the eve of the 2016 Rio Summer Games. In January, the IPC banned Russian fans from bearing their national flag at the PyeongChang Paralympics, following the body’s decision to maintain Russia’s Paralympic ban.

Under IPC rules, flags of a “non-participating country” are forbidden from the stands at the Paralympic Games. The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games will run from March 9 to 18 in PyeongChang, South Korea.