(ATR) The International Paralympic Committee has laid out "strict conditions" in lifting its ban on Russian Paralympians.
The IPC announced Friday that it would reinstate the Russian Paralympic Committee by March 15. The ban was introduced in August 2016 in the wake of the McLaren Report detailing the country’s state-sponsored doping scheme.
The Paralympic governing body said today that 69 of 70 reinstatement criteria outlined by the IPC in November 2016 had now been met.
The IPC Taskforce said the one criterion not achieved was provision of "an official response adequately addressing the findings made by Professor McLaren".
President Andrew Parsons said that after the 29-month ban, the IPC’s governing board agreed that keeping the RPC suspended was "no longer necessary and proportionate to the situation we now face in Russia".
He said the RPC had 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, RUSADA has effectively been rebuilt from the ground up, is back testing and is conditionally reinstated by the global body responsible for it," he said.
"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."
Commenting on Russia’s failure to accept the findings of the McLaren Report, Parsons said: "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.
The strict conditions under which Russia’s suspension will be formally lifted include that:
• RPC remains compliant with all requirements of the WADA program and IPC anti-doping code
• All relevant bodies must be able to carry out their anti-doping activities in Russia without external interference
• RUSADA must not be declared non-compliant by WADA
• Up until Dec. 31, 2022, Russian Para-athletes will only be entitled to participate in certain competitions (including the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Paralympics) if they have met the specified testing requirements
• RPC must contribute to the IPC’s significant costs resulting from the increased testing required in relation to Russian athletes under the IPC’s jurisdiction until 31 December 2022
• RPC must provide progress reports to the IPC every six months for at least three years.
The IPC is threatening to revoke the RPC’s conditional reinstatement if any of the post-reinstatement criteria are not met.
Announcing the IPC’s decision, Parsons emphasised that six of the governing board’s 13 voting members were Para athletes and "fully back this decision".
"They are supportive because with the conditions the RPC must continue to meet over a period of three years, we are confident that we can ensure a level playing field for all Para athletes and that the participation of the RPC will no longer jeopardise the integrity and credibility of Para sport competitions," he said.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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