Paralympics

CAS upholds Russia ban from Rio Paralympics

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A spectator waves Olympic and Paralympic flags

Image credit: Reuters

ByJen Offord
23/08/2016 at 10:23 | Updated 23/08/2016 at 14:36

The Russian Paralympic Committee's appeal over it's exclusion from the Rio 2016 Paralympics has been dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), it was announced on Tuesday.

It was announced earlier this month that the Russian Paralympic committee would be excluded from the Games, which begin on September 7, after the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said it was unable to fulfil its membership responsibilities and obligations. In particular, with regards to compliance with the IPC and World Anti Doping Agency (WADA)'s anti-doping code.

Russia's Paralympic Committee subsequently launched an appeal over the exclusion, but CAS ruled that the blanket ban of the team was "proportionate in the circumstances."

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Speaking about the decision, The IPC's president, Sir Philip Craven said in a statement: "We are greatly encouraged that the CAS Panel has upheld the IPC Governing Board’s unanimous decision to hold the Russian Paralympic Committee accountable for its membership responsibilities and obligations.

"Today’s decision underlines our strong belief that doping has absolutely no place in Paralympic sport, and further improves our ability to ensure fair competition and a level playing field for all Para athletes around the world."

But Craven added that the outcome could be by no means considered a victory for the IPC.

He said: "Although we are pleased with the decision, it is not a day for celebration and we have enormous sympathy for the Russian athletes who will now miss out on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

"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."

Following the initial announcement, the head of the Russian Paralympic committee wrote an open letter to IOC president Thomas Bach, condemning the ruling. He said: "It is absolutely clear that in this case we are dealing with the principle of collective responsibility for unproven crimes."

And Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called the CAS decision unlawful and politically motivated.

"There were no reasons to dismiss (the appeal) but it happened," Mutko said. "Those bodies that should defend Paralympians do not do it and punish them instead".

Russia can now appeal to the Swiss Federal Court, although it can only overturn the CAS ruling on the basis of a procedural mistake and not on the merits of the case.

The decision follows the findings of WADA's McLaren report, which detailed what it called a "state-sponsored" doping programme operated by Russia, and led to the banning of a number of Russian athletes from the Olympic Games in Rio, which concluded on Sunday.

[STORY: Rio 2016 Olympics:Russia guilty of 'widespread state-sponsored doping' - WADA report]

Though 270 Russian athletes were eventually allowed to compete in the games, it had been argued by many that there should be a blanket ban on the entire Russian Olympic team.

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