Press releases 6th September 2017

Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events for PyeongChang 2018

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board has decided to maintain the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), with a further review due in November 2017 following the WADA Foundation Board meeting. However, it has put in place a limited interim measure for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four sports for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, subject to meeting certain published conditions.

This limited interim measure is intended to preserve the ability of the RPC to enter its qualified athletes into the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games should it have its suspension lifted in time. The IPC also hopes this decision will further encourage the RPC and importantly the Russian authorities to meet the remaining reinstatement criteria as soon as possible.

The winter World Para Sports where Russian athletes meeting the pre-determined conditions will be allowed to compete as neutrals are alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard. Under the sport rules for Para ice hockey, Russia has already missed the opportunity to qualify for PyeongChang 2018.

In an update to the IPC Governing Board on Sunday (3 September), the IPC Taskforce – responsible for monitoring the RPC’s progress in meeting the reinstatement criteria – highlighted that seven key measures still need to be met before it is able to recommend the reinstatement of the RPC. They are:

• The finalisation of the RPC Anti-Doping Rules, to be approved by the Taskforce
• The approval of the RPC’s constitution by the IPC membership department
• Completion of all budget-related aspects of the reinstatement criteria
• The provision and confirmation of certain additional information by the RPC regarding personnel and governance (reinstatement criteria 10 and 14.2), as specified by the Taskforce
• The provision of further information relating to the composition of the RPC board, to be defined by the Taskforce (reinstatement criterion 12)
• The full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
• The provision of an official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings made by Professor McLaren.

With the WADA Foundation Board due to consider the position of RUSADA in November, and within that the Russian authorities official response to the findings made by Professor McLaren, the IPC Taskforce will review the situation and update the IPC Governing Board shortly thereafter. A further decision will then be taken on the RPC’s suspension status and the limited interim measure of allowing Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events for PyeongChang 2018.

Sir Philip Craven, IPC President, said: “Both the IPC Governing Board and IPC Taskforce are impressed and encouraged at the significant progress the RPC has made in meeting the reinstatement criteria since May. Of the seven key criteria that remain, we believe five of them can be fulfilled in the near future barring any unexpected developments. The remaining two – the reinstatement of RUSADA and the acknowledgment and acceptance of the McLaren Report – are interlinked and we will eagerly await WADA’s decision in November.

“We do not want to have a situation where Russian athletes have insufficient events left to qualify for PyeongChang 2018 should the RPC meet the reinstatement criteria. Therefore we have put in place a limited interim measure that will address this until at least the next IPC Taskforce update in November.”

“With immediate effect, Russian athletes can compete as neutrals in PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic qualification events providing they meet a number of key conditions that we have published. Then, if the RPC has its suspension lifted in time by meeting all the reinstatement criteria, qualified athletes will be allowed to compete at the Games. In my view there can be no greater incentive than this for the RPC to meet the remaining seven reinstatement criteria.”

Andy Parkinson, the Chair of the IPC Taskforce, said: “Since the last Taskforce report to the IPC Governing Board in May, the RPC has made significant progress towards meeting the reinstatement criteria and initiating real change in culture within Russia regarding anti-doping matters. The Taskforce continues to be encouraged by the steps taken by the RPC, and by the constructive dialogue between the Taskforce and the RPC Co-ordination Committee. The Taskforce is particularly pleased with the recent progress made in the areas of anti-doping education, the launch of the RPC’s reporting doping hotline, and various improvements and developments relating to testing.

“However, as mentioned in both the February and May 2017 reports, the Taskforce has major concerns as to the lack of any material progress regarding the provision of an official response from the Russian authorities that adequately addresses the findings made by Professor McLaren. This is a requirement of the WADA roadmap for the reinstatement of RUSADA and a reinstatement criterion for the RPC.

“As has been repeatedly communicated by the Taskforce, Professor McLaren’s findings must be specifically addressed, whether by acknowledging the findings and tackling the problems, or by properly rebutting the findings. This is a fundamental requirement, as unless and until the problems that led to the RPC’s suspension are fully understood and addressed, they cannot be fixed for the future. The Taskforce notes that there has presently been no such acknowledgement or acceptance, nor any proper rebuttal. Time is of the essence for the Russian authorities with the WADA Foundation Board meeting now less than three months away.”

Conditions of competition

Any Russian athlete wishing to participate as a neutral in qualification events for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games must meet the terms of the limited interim measure and a number of participation conditions determined by the IPC. Among the requirements of the limited interim measure is the need to be licensed, eligible and in compliance with the anti-doping testing requirements set out in reinstatement criterion 22(b). The latter stipulates that athletes must have undergone at least two anti-doping tests during the six months immediately preceding the relevant event.

In addition, all provisions in the respective sport/competition rules and regulations that are applicable to athletes/support personnel will apply equally to neutral athletes/support personnel. Under no circumstances will officials, members or other representatives of Russian Ministries or the RPC Governing Board be permitted to attend such events in any capacity, including as support personnel and no accreditation will be granted to any such persons.

This limited interim measure will have effect only up until a further review by the IPC Taskforce and the IPC Governing Board following the WADA Foundation Board meeting in November 2017. Following such review, this limited interim measure may be withdrawn, maintained or revised, as the IPC Governing Board sees fit and following a recommendation of the IPC Taskforce.

Sir Philip Craven added: “Compared to 13 months ago when the RPC was suspended, we now have evidence of a significant transformation both culturally and practically in how the RPC approaches anti-doping activities. We also have more confidence in the anti-doping education and testing of Para athletes in Russia now that RUSADA is planning and co-ordinating testing under the supervision of international experts and the UK Anti-Doping Agency. This is why we will permit the RPC to enter athletes in to qualifying events for PyeongChang 2018, pending a further update from the IPC Taskforce in November.”

Chelsey Gotell, Chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council said: “This is a decision that will impact all athletes that are aiming for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. I think it is vitally important for the integrity of Paralympic sport that athletes should not be allowed to compete under the Russian flag until the RPC meets its reinstatement criteria in full. With seven criteria still to fulfil I hope this is sooner, rather than later and that this decision acts as a catalyst to the relevant authorities in Russia taking the necessary measures.”

The IPC Limited Interim Measure in full can be found here.

The IPC Taskforce Progress Report September 2017 can be found here.

Full details and background on the Russian Paralympic Committee’s suspension can be found here.

• This media release was originally published by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on 6 September 2017. To access the original, please click here.

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