Ban upheld after massive doping scandal
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has re-confirmed the ban on Russian Paralympic athletes in the next Paralympic Games in Korea after a report from the IPC Taskforce, citing the doping scandal and their evasion of the charges over the past several months. The focus of the report was Russia’s attitude following the 2016 revelations of a massive doping ring in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. After the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced its findings of the widespread and illegal doping scheme in the 2016 McLaren Report, the Russian team tried to avoid all discussion.
The decision reached in the report was a unanimous support of the ban. The IPC has been encouraging Russia to take responsibility and to make preventative measures before the games begin in Pyeongchang in 2018. “The IPC is of the view that there can be no meaningful change in culture,” the report stated. This was due to a reluctance on Russia’s end in penalizing those responsible or publicly taking fault for the cheating. Both the IPC and the WADA needed to be convinced of a significant effort on the part of the Russian team to eradicate cheating within its ranks in order to have their appeal to lift the ban considered, which they have failed to do.
Russia has loudly voiced complaints about the ban, which it considers to be too drastic and unfair. Alexei Karpenko, the lawyer for the Russian Paralympic Team, called it a “flagrant violation of human rights” to prevent innocent, non-doped athletes from participating in the Games. Many of these athletes have come forward to voice displeasure with the Committee’s decision and its lack of flexibility and fairness. However, the IPC feels that a zero-tolerance policy will send a stronger message to the leadership in the team, which is possibly needed given how deeply entrenched the cheating ring was, as indicated in the WADA’s report.
Despite IPC President Dr. Phil Craven’s encouragement at some of the findings, the decision made in the report is the final nail in Russia’s bid to play in the Games without a “bilateral invitation” from the IPC in January 2018. However, an invite may be granted if the team follows up on the Taskforce’s recommendations and requirements, one of which is an honest admittance of guilt from the Russian officials. The team has not yet responded to this latest decision and has not announced if it would accept the potential invitation to Pyeongchang early next year.