Russia must act or face further bans

LONDON • Russia has been warned that it will be barred from July's World Para Athletics Championships in London and the 2018 Winter Paralympics unless "something dramatically changes" regarding doping.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) issued a blanket ban on all Russian competitors at last year's Rio Paralympics.

IPC president Philip Craven said on Monday that Russia also faced the very real possibility of being excluded from London this year and the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Russia was suspended by the IPC in August following revelations of widespread state-sponsored doping uncovered in a report by Richard McLaren on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), which also saw the country's track and field team banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The IPC established a task force to monitor and assist the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) in a process of reforming.

But while encouraged by aspects of the RPC's "progress", Craven told reporters in London: "With 291 days to go until Pyeongchang 2018, there is not a moment to waste.

"The IPC task force will next update the IPC governing board in September and if the obligations have not been fully met by then, it will be very difficult for the Russian team to have its suspension lifted in time to enter its athletes into the Paralympic Winter Games."

The veteran British administrator added: "Clearly, with this timeline in mind, unless something dramatic changes in the next few weeks, the Russian Paralympic Committee will not be able to enter its athletes into the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.

"There are a lot of good plans with timelines on paper but we now need to see plans in action and delivering concrete results."

With the IPC's deadline for London entries on June 9, there is little time for Russia to convince the IPC it has met the criteria for a return.

The International Association of Athletics Federations, which governs track and field, has paved the way for individually vetted Russians to compete as neutrals.

But the IPC has ruled out a similar arrangement in Paralympic competitions, saying it could only accept entries from member nations.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'Russia must act or face further bans'. Print Edition | Subscribe