Rio 2016: No second chances for Russian paralympians as IPC play down IOC criticism


Russian Paralympic athletes will not be afforded any second chances to represent their country at the Rio 2016 Games after a blanket ban was placed upon them.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Philip Craven confirmed on Sunday that Russian competitors would be barred from the Games after allegations of state-sponsored doping made in an independent report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The WADA report led to all Russian athletes being barred from the Olympic Games, as well as competitors from other sports - although the International Olympic Committee stopped short of turning away all of the nation's participants, instead leaving rulings over eligibility to individual sports' governing bodies.

Craven says no such opportunity will be afforded to Paralympians, should an anticipated appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport rule that Russians cannot compete.

He said: "This is not about individuals and not about individual sports, this is about two state-sponsored doping systems, so this affects the whole of Russia but it definitely affects the Russian Paralympic Committee."

He added: "This is about intentional covering up of intentional cheating on a country-wide scale and therefore: yes there will be individual athletes that are probably clean.

"But, I'm afraid, until the system is changed radically, and we can count upon the Russian Paralympic Committee entering athletes into IPS competitions and Paralympic Games that are clean, then this is not something that we can accept.

"It's so fundamental to what we're about. 

"How would it seem to an athlete that's lining up and probably thinking 'that opponent's definitely been doped, I've no chance'?

"Or what will it feel like for spectators to come along and have doubts in their minds?

"But most importantly, how will it feel to parents of children, thinking that now sport is becoming transformed into this doping culture? Should they let their children participate in what is a wonderful activity? But they start to say 'no, stick to your computer, remain a couch potato'.

"We can't do that. This is far bigger than the athletes that will miss out on Rio 2016."

An IOC member himself, Craven was grilled on the differing approach between the IOC and IPC.

He steadfastly refused to criticise IOC counterpart Thomas Bach, pointing to how the organisations' relative structures made the decision-making processes completely different.

Craven explained: "We've mentioned the difference in membership structure of the two organisations and therefore the only body within Russia that we could address this to was the Russian Paralympic Committee, the IOC is set up in a very different way, they are very different members.

"You have to speak to the IOC about why they made that decision, but we have two separate sporting bodies and we took the decision how we thought it should be done.

"In regard to discussion on this matter with the IOC, I can absolutely assure you I did inform Thomas Bach of our decision late on Friday morning here in Rio and at no time has he or anyone from the IOC tried to influence our decision, that's absolute gospel truth."