Par­a­lympics ban for Rus­sia

IPC head ‘dis­gusted’ by ‘medals over morals’ More ‘ab­hor­rent’ rev­e­la­tions to come

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Rumsby

‘Rus­sia’s thirst for glory at all costs has se­verely dam­aged the in­tegrity and image of all sport’

Rus­sia was thrown out of the Par­a­lympics yes­ter­day, with the head of the move­ment pro­claim­ing: “Their medals-over-morals men­tal­ity dis­gusts me.” The rogue na­tion paid the price for bring­ing about what the pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee de­scribed as “one of the dark­est days in the his­tory of all sport”, one he warned threat­ened its very ex­is­tence.

In a land­mark rul­ing which de­stroyed the cred­i­bil­ity of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee’s re­fusal to ban Rus­sia from the Olympics, Sir Philip Craven also re­vealed there were more “ab­hor­rent” rev­e­la­tions to come from an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion which has found Vladimir Putin’s govern­ment guilty both of state-spon­sored dop­ing and a cor­re­spond­ing cover-up on an “un­prece­dented” scale.

How­ever, Craven re­fused to con­demn the IOC – of which he is a mem­ber – for fail­ing to show the same courage in its own han­dling of a cri­sis that has en­gulfed Rio 2016.

That was af­ter an­nounc­ing the IPC’s de­ci­sion to sus­pend Rus­sia’s na­tional Par­a­lympic com­mit­tee with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, lay­ing bare the latest find­ings of an in­ves­tiga- tion into the scan­dal by Cana­dian law pro­fes­sor Richard McLaren.

Craven re­vealed that on Fri­day McLaren had pro­vided names of more ath­letes sus­pected of hav­ing pos­i­tive drugs tests cov­ered up at the 2014 Sochi Win­ter Par­a­lympics and else­where and warned of more to come. The find­ings were enough to con­vince the IPC board to de­clare the RPC “un­able to en­sure com­pli­ance” with the World An­tiDop­ing Code in time for the Par­a­lympics, which be­gin on Sept 7.

Craven said: “The Rus­sian govern­ment has cat­a­stroph­i­cally failed its Para ath­letes. Their medals-over­morals men­tal­ity dis­gusts me. The com­plete cor­rup­tion of the an­tidop­ing sys­tem is con­trary to the rules and strikes at the very heart of the spirit of Par­a­lympic sport.

“It shows a bla­tant dis­re­gard for the health and well-be­ing of ath­letes and, quite sim­ply, has no place in Par­a­lympic sport. Their thirst for glory at all costs has se­verely dam­aged the in­tegrity and image of all sport. Trag­i­cally, this sit­u­a­tion is not about ath­letes cheat­ing a sys­tem, but about a state-run sys­tem that is cheat­ing the ath­letes.

“There is a great, great threat to world sport, to what we would view as the sport­ing spirit, that can­not be al­lowed to change fair com­pe­ti­tion, fair play, abid­ing by the rules. If we slacken off on that we are fin­ished.”

The IPC’s de­ci­sion was in con­trast to that of the IOC, whose re­fusal to im­pose what its pres­i­dent Thomas Bach de­scribed as the “nu­clear op­tion” of a blan­ket ban on Rus­sia from the Olympics re­sulted in more than two-thirds of its orig­i­nal del­e­ga­tion go­ing to Rio.

Craven re­fused to con­demn the or­gan­i­sa­tion of which he is a mem­ber, de­fend­ing a vote he cast in favour of that de­ci­sion this week and ar­gu­ing that the IOC’s rules are not the same as those of the IPC.

Craven ex­pressed “sym­pa­thy” for the os­ten­si­bly “clean” com­peti­tors who would miss Rio 2016, as did the Bri­tish Par­a­lympic As­so­cia- tion, which nev­er­the­less backed the IPC’s “bold” de­ci­sion.

“It is cru­cial for the in­tegrity of our sport that those in­volved as well as the pub­lic feel con­fi­dent that all nec­es­sary mea­sures are in place to tackle dop­ing and the play­ing field is level,” the BPA said in a state­ment. “The Bri­tish Par­a­lympic As­so­ci­a­tion there­fore con­grat­u­lates the IPC on tak­ing a clear stand based on the ev­i­dence pro­vided to the McLaren re­port and their own sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Wada, which was slapped down by the IOC for urg­ing it and the IPC to throw Rus­sia out of the Olympics, said: “Wada sup­ports the de­ci­sion taken by the IPC, which we be­lieve is in the in­ter­est of clean ath­letes.” The RPC was given 21 days to lodge an ap­peal against the IPC’s de­ci­sion, some­thing it im­me­di­ately an­nounced its in­ten­tion to do. Rus­sia won more than a third of medals at the Sochi Par­a­lympics.

The head of the RPC, Vladimir Lukin, said: “If they ac­cuse us of some­thing, they should for­mu­late the ac­cu­sa­tions in a clear and con­crete man­ner. We can’t ex­clude some­one be­cause he’s part of some sys­tem, we can only ex­clude some­one if he is guilty of some­thing.”

Rus­sian sports min­is­ter Vi­taly Mutko, banned from the Olympics af­ter be­ing im­pli­cated in the McLaren re­port, added: “In my view, this is be­yond be­lief. It’s an un­prece­dented de­ci­sion. I don’t un­der­stand what it’s based on.”

Rus­sian for­eign min­istry spokes­woman Maria Zakharova said: “The de­ci­sion to bar the en­tire Rus­sian Par­a­lympic team from the Par­a­lympic Games is strik­ingly filthy and in­hu­mane. It is a be­trayal of those high hu­man-rights stan­dards the mod­ern world is rest­ing on.”

Craven shrugged off Rus­sia’s re­sponse, in­sist­ing he had no fears about be­com­ing the tar­get of the kind of death threats di­rected at In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Athletics Fed­er­a­tions pres­i­dent Lord Coe since the coun­try was banned from track and field com­pe­ti­tions.

He also de­clared Rus­sia, which is host­ing the next World Cup, of be­ing un­fit cur­rently to stage any sport­ing event. “At this mo­ment in time, I can’t see how any events can take place there un­til the trust is reestab­lished. Rus­sia is a great sport­ing na­tion. I think it’s lost its great­ness. It needs to get it back.”

Rus­sian medal: Vi­talina Bat­sarashk­ina (left) won sil­ver in the 10m air pis­tol

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