MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia, already suspended from next month’s Rio Paralympics, have also been banned for the winter edition in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018 because of a state-sponsored sports doping programme.
The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) announced the latest punishment handed out by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Monday.
“The decision taken by the IPC, upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding Russian Paralympians being excluded from the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, has also been extended to include the Winter Games in 2018 in Pyeongchang,” the RPC said on their website (www.paralymp.ru).
Last week the Lausanne-based CAS, sport’s highest tribunal, rejected an RPC appeal against the Rio ban.
The decision to exclude Russia’s team means at least 260 competitors from the country are now set to miss the Sept. 7-18 Paralympics.
Russia have appealed against the CAS ruling to the Swiss Federal Court and a result is expected later on Monday or on Tuesday.
The Federal Court can only overturn the CAS decision on the basis of a procedural mistake and not on the merits of the case.
The IPC went further than the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which stopped short of a blanket ban on Russia at this month’s Rio Olympics and left the decision instead in the hands of international sports federations.
Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Paralympic ban cynical and immoral but also said Moscow acknowledged mistakes it had made in tackling sports doping.
The country’s track and field team were also excluded from the Olympics due to the sports doping programme.
Putin said the decision to bar Russian athletes, including those who had not tested positive for any banned substances, was a vivid manifestation “of how the humanistic foundations of sport and Olympism are shamelessly flouted by politics”.
“The decision to disqualify our Paralympic team is outside the law, outside morality and outside humanity,” he added.
“It is simply cynical to vent one’s anger on those for whom sport has become the meaning of their life ... I even feel pity for those taking such decisions because they must well understand that it is so demeaning for them.”
The whole dispute centres on a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that found the Russian government and the FSB security service had, over years, covered up hundreds of doping cases across the majority of Olympic sports and Paralympic events.
Although not widely followed or celebrated in Russia, where rights campaigners say many disabled people are marginalised by regressive social attitudes and inadequate state support, the country’s para-athletes are some of the best in the world.
Their team topped the medal table at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in the Russian city of Sochi after taking second place behind China at London 2012.
Editing by Tony Jimenez