Pyeongchang hope for Russian Paralympians

Snowboarder Vic Wild competing for Russia at the Sochi Winter Games. Russian Paralympians will be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang as neutrals.
Snowboarder Vic Wild competing for Russia at the Sochi Winter Games. Russian Paralympians will be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang as neutrals. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Russian Paralympians have been granted special dispensation from a blanket doping ban to take part in next year's Winter Games qualifiers as neutrals, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Wednesday.

The IPC, however, has maintained a ban on the Russian Paralympic Committee until a further doping review in November.

Russia was warned it would be barred from next year's Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea unless "something dramatically changes" regarding doping, when the IPC last maintained the ban in May.

But on Wednesday the IPC softened its stance slightly.

"The IPC governing board has decided to maintain the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), with a further review due in November 2017", the IPC said.

"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 the 2018 Winter Games, subject to meeting certain published conditions," it added.

Alpine skiing, snowboarding, biathlon and cross-country are the four disciplines open to the Russians.

  • Sports (alpine skiing, snowboarding, biathlon and cross-country) Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in at the Pyeongchang Games.

"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," explained Philip Craven, president of the IPC.

"The IPC also hopes this decision will further encourage the RPC, and crucially the Russian authorities, to meet the remaining reinstatement criteria as soon as possible."

The Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov said he had expected as much.

"We will analyse the situation and form a common position," he told Russia's R-Sport.

Russia was suspended by the IPC in August last year, 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 last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Russia did not compete at the Rio Paralympics either.

The Pyeongchang Paralympic Winter Games take place from March 9 to 18.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2017, with the headline 'Pyeongchang hope for Russian Paralympians'. Print Edition | Subscribe