Russia loses appeal against Paralympics ban
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[August 24, 2016]
By Brian Homewood
ZURICH (Reuters) - Russia has lost its
appeal against a ban from next month's Rio Paralympics because of a
state-sponsored doping program, the Court of Arbitration for Sport
(CAS) said on Tuesday.
The decision to exclude Russia's team, initially made on Aug. 7 by
the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), means at least 260
competitors from the country are now set to miss the Sept. 7-18
The IPC went further than the International Olympic Committee (IOC),
which stopped short of a blanket ban on Russia at this month's Rio
Games and left the decision instead in the hands of international
CAS, sport's highest tribunal, said its panel found the IPC "did not
violate any procedural rule in dealing with the disciplinary
process" which led to Russia's suspension.
It added the ruling was "proportionate in the circumstances" and
that the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) "did not file any
evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was
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 was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency before adding
"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.
Alexei Karpenko, a lawyer representing the RPC, said an appeal would
be considered once CAS had issued its full, reasoned decision.
The whole dispute centers on a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
report that found the Russian government and the FSB security
service had, over years, covered up hundreds of doping cases across
the majority of Olympic sports and Paralympic events.
Russia previously said the IPC's decision was politically motivated
and would punish dozens of innocent athletes.
Although not widely followed or celebrated in Russia, where rights
campaigners say many disabled people are marginalized by regressive
social attitudes and inadequate state support, Russian para-athletes
are some of the best in the world.
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Performers carry the Russian national flag during the closing
ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, March
16, 2014. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk/File Photo
Their team topped the medal table at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in
the Russian city of Sochi after taking second place behind China at
The country's exclusion from Rio will hit hard in a country that has
long drawn pride and prestige from its history of sporting success.
Following Tuesday's verdict, the IPC said Russia had been banned for
its inability to fulfill its membership "responsibilities and
obligations", particularly the anti-doping code.
"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," said IPC
president Philip Craven in a statement.
"It is a sad day for the Paralympic Movement but we hope also a new
beginning," he said, adding that he wanted the ruling to be a
"catalyst for change" in Russia.
The IPC said the 267 places secured by Russian athletes would now be
(Additional reporting by Joshua Franklin in Zurich and Alexander
Winning in Moscow, editing by Alison Williams and Tony Jimenez)
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