No Paralympics for Russia
CAS turns down appeal, Russia calls decision 'unlawful'
Russia has lost its appeal against a ban from next month's Rio Paralympics because of a state-sponsored doping programme, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said yesterday.
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 event.
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 instead left the decision to international sports federations.
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 based".
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called the CAS decision unlawful and politically motivated.
"The decision is not in the legal domain," TASS news agency quoted Mutko as saying.
"It is more political than legal. There was no reason for rejection, but it happened."
"The bodies that are meant to protect Paralympians don't protect them but punish them instead.
"And this is of course sad."
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 centres 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 had 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 marginalised by regressive social attitudes and inadequate state support, Russian para-athletes are among the best in the world.
Their team topped the medal table at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in the Russian city of Sochi after finishing second, behind China, at London 2012.
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 yesterday's verdict, the IPC said Russia had been banned for its inability to fulfil 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 added 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 redistributed. - Reuters.
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.
— International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven
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