It’s official – The Russian Paralympic team will not be competing in Rio next month.
An appeal submitted last week by the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) to the the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was dismissed Tuesday, confirming the blanket ban from the 2016 Rio Games.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) moved to ban on August 8, following a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigation into systemic, state-sponsored doping. The McLaren report claimed that Russia’s sports ministry “directed, controlled and oversaw” manipulation of urine samples provided by its athletes from before London 2012, through Sochi 2014 and beyond.
A total of 267 Russian competitors will now miss the Games, which begin on September 7. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in a Facebook post, described the decision as “cynical” and “a blow to all people with disabilities, not just Russians”.
The CAS panel, decided that the IPC’s decision to ban the entire Russian team “was proportionate in the circumstances”. The RPC were permitted to present its case before the IPC decided on the ban but CAS stated that they did not file any evidence contradicting the facts put forward by the IPC.
Responding to concerns about the collectivizing of athlete guilt, IPC president Sir Philip Craven was sympathetic but forward looking.
“Although we are pleased with the decision, it is not a day for celebration,” said Craven in an IPC statement Tuesday. “We have enormous sympathy for the Russian athletes who will now miss out.
“It is a sad day for the Paralympic Movement, but we hope also a new beginning. We hope this decision acts as a catalyst for change in Russia and we can welcome the Russian Paralympic Committee back as a member safe in the knowledge that it is fulfilling its obligations to ensure fair competition for all.”
In contrast, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) received criticism for refusing to initiate a collective suspension proceeding, instead leaving the decision up to individual federations. In the end, more than 270 Russian athletes were given the green light to compete in Rio.
However, complicating matters on the para-sport side of things is that the IPC acts as the international federation for four of the 22 summer Paralympic sports. As such, the move to ban Russian athletes was always likely to cover the entire Russian Paralympic committee as opposed to delegation banning responsibilities to individual sporting federations.
The official CAS statement announcing the decision to dismiss the appeal explained that no “natural justice rights or personality rights afforded to individual athletes” were found to be pertinent.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told the TASS news agency the ban was “political” and “not within a legal framework”, while team lawyer Alexei Karpenko called it a “black day for the sports judiciary”.
“Regardless of whether the Russian Paralympics Committee is guilty of the charges, punishing innocent athletes and not allowing them to defend themselves – which was an opportunity afforded to the Russian Olympics athletes – this is a flagrant violation of human rights.”
Karpenko hinted at an appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court but confirmed the decision was final and that Russian athletes would not be going to Rio.
The Canadian Paralympic Committee, which supports the upholding of the ban, is on standby to make additions to its roster if the IPC announce additional slot allocation. Team Canada’s final rooster will be named on August 29.