The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has today (Friday) announced that it will conditionally lift the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) after conceding that it needs to move the situation forward.
The IPC first suspended the RPC on August 7, 2016 due to its inability to fulfil membership obligations in the wake of the doping scandal that enveloped Russian sport. As the only global sporting body to have a blanket ban in place, the suspension has prohibited the RPC from entering all its athletes into any IPC sanctioned competitions.
The IPC today said that the decision to reinstate the RPC’s membership by March 15 under strict conditions was taken after the Committee met 69 of the 70 reinstatement criteria originally outlined in November 2016.
However, the one remaining criterion yet to be met is Russia’s continuing reluctance to accept it operated a state-sponsored doping scheme and provide an official response adequately addressing the findings made Professor Richard McLaren’s report into the matter.
IPC president Andrew Parsons said: “In August 2016 the IPC suspended the RPC because it was necessary and proportionate to the situation we faced and essential to ensure clean sport. Twenty-nine months later it is the IPC Governing Board’s firm belief that keeping the RPC suspended is no longer necessary and proportionate to the situation we now face in Russia.
“During its suspension, the RPC has implemented 69 measures which provide the IPC with confidence that it is now a very different organisation to the one that it was prior to Rio 2016. Russian Para-athletes are amongst, and will continue to be, the most-tested athletes in the Paralympic Movement. Under the supervision of Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency), Rusada (Russian Anti-Doping Agency) has effectively been rebuilt from the ground up, is back testing and is conditionally reinstated by the global body responsible for it.
“With these factors in mind, maintaining the RPC’s suspension on the grounds of Russia’s continuing refusal to not accept the McLaren Report does not seem right. We need to move things forward and find a solution that protects the integrity of Para sport, acknowledges the significant reforms made by the RPC, and enables the RPC to comply with its membership obligations.”
Between now and the date when the RPC suspension is formally lifted, the IPC will publish post-reinstatement criteria, identifying the core, high-level requirements that the RPC must continue to meet to maintain its conditional reinstatement of membership of the IPC.
Amongst the conditions will be that the RPC remains compliant with all the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Program and the IPC Anti-Doping Code; all relevant bodies must all be able to carry out their respective anti-doping activities in Russia without external interference and Rusada must not be declared non-compliant by Wada. Wada last month ruled that Rusada remained compliant despite missing a December 31 deadline to provide data from the Moscow laboratory implicated in the country’s doping scandal.
The IPC added that up until December 31, 2022, Russian Para athletes will only be entitled to participate in certain competitions if they have met the specified testing requirements. To this end, the RPC must contribute to the IPC’s “significant costs” resulting from the increased testing required. The RPC must also provide progress reports to the IPC every six months for at least the next three years.
Parsons stressed that the lifting of the suspension will remain provisional until Russia accepts the findings of the McLaren Report. Any breaches of the terms of the RPC’s readmittance will be immediately assessed by the IPC.
Parsons added: “At our meeting the board concluded that disappointingly Russia most probably will never accept the findings of the McLaren Report, bearing in mind it has not provided any proper response to it since its publication in July 2016.
“Therefore, the board was faced with a fairly straight-forward question: should we dig our heels in and continue waiting for a very unlikely Russian response to the McLaren Report – a move that will keep the RPC suspended indefinitely and, as a result, Russian Para athletes ineligible to compete – or do we consider whether it is possible to find another way forward to enable the RPC to comply with its IPC membership obligations?
“The board chose the latter and decided to lift the suspension under strict conditions.”