Sport Rio 2016 Olympics

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Russia could miss Rio Paralympics after IPC launch suspension proceedings

Mark Staniforth and Matt McGeehan

Published 22/07/2016 | 19:58

The Russia and IOC flags
The Russia and IOC flags

Russia could miss the Rio Paralympics after the International Paralympic Committee opened suspension proceedings over the "unimaginable scale of institutionalised doping in Russian sport".

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The move came after Monday's publication of Richard McLaren's investigation into rampant Russian cheating.

The IPC will make a decision on whether or not Russia will be suspended in the week beginning August 1. The Olympic Games open on August 5 and the Paralympics take place from September 7 to 18.

Should a ban be imposed, Russia's National Paralympic Committee (NPC Russia) would have 21 days to lodge an appeal, the IPC said.

A statement from the IPC read: "The IPC governing board on Friday (July 22) ratified a decision to open suspension proceedings against NPC Russia.

"In light of the prevailing doping culture endemic within Russian sport, at the very highest levels, NPC Russia appears unable or unwilling to ensure compliance with and the enforcement of the IPC's anti-doping code within its own national jurisdiction.

"The IPC considers this vital to ensuring athletes are able to compete on a level playing field."

Russia, with places for 267 athletes across 18 sports, has the third largest delegation for the Rio Paralympics, behind China and Brazil. Britain will have around 260 athletes in 19 sports.

After the IPC board ratified a decision to open suspension proceedings against NPC Russia, IPC president Sir Philip Craven thanked McLaren for his cooperation.

Craven said: "The report revealed an unimaginable scale of institutionalised doping in Russian sport that was orchestrated at the highest level. McLaren's findings are of serious concern for everyone committed to clean and honest sport.

"This decision was not taken lightly, but after fully evaluating the 'Independent Person Report' and the additional information we have received, the IPC believes that the current environment in Russian sport - which stems from the highest levels - is such that NPC Russia appears unable to fulfil its IPC membership obligations in full.

"Before making a decision, NPC Russia will have an opportunity to present its case to the IPC.

"In addition, the IPC is continuing to explore a host of other measures and actions in order to take the strongest possible steps to protect the integrity of Paralympic sport."

The IPC said it had acted after McLaren provided the names of the athletes associated with the 35 "disappearing positive samples" from the Moscow laboratory highlighted in the report.

Nineteen samples potentially doctored as part of the sample-swapping regime during the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games have been sent for further analysis.

Reanalysis of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in Beijing and London exposed a further 45 positive tests, the International Olympic Committee announced on Friday.

The results from the second set of reanalysed samples - comprising 30 athletes from Beijing and 15 from London - takes the total number of athletes who have failed doping tests during the period of reanalysis so far to 98.

The nationalities of the athletes involved in the 45 new cases are yet to be revealed, with the IOC currently undertaking the process of informing their respective international associations.

And there is set to be more bad news on the way with more samples from Beijing and London - specifically aimed at medal winners - set be be conducted throughout and beyond the Rio Games.

The IOC said 23 of the 30 positive tests taken from the Beijing samples involved medallists. Turkish weightlifter Sibel Ozkan was swiftly stripped of the silver medal he won in 2008.

The 15 positives from London covered athletes from nine countries and two sports.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: "The new reanalysis once again shows the commitment of the IOC in the fight against doping."

The IOC's announcement follows the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier this week to uphold the decision of athletics' world governing body the IAAF to ban Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics due to widespread doping violations.

And it also comes after an independent commission report earlier this week which alleged state-sponsored doping by Russia centred around the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The IOC is currently under pressure to extend the IAAF's ban on Russian competitors in Rio to all sports. The IOC's executive board is due to convene again on Sunday.

Former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev published an open letter calling for the IOC to allow Russia to compete in the Olympics, pleading the case for those who have not failed drugs tests and yet face missing the Games.

"I regard the principle of collective punishment as unacceptable," the 85-year-old wrote in the letter, posted on the Mikhail Gorbachev Foundation website.

"I am convinced that it is contrary to the culture of the Olympic movement, based on universal values, humanism and the principles of law."

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