Russian athletes have been banned from competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, following serious doping allegations against their country.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) had opened suspension proceedings following publication of the McLaren report and has now confirmed the ban.

That report detailed a state-sponsored doping programme operated by Russia.

The Russian Paralympic Committee has said it will be lodging an immediate appeal against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Unlike the IPC, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose not to impose a blanket ban on Russia in the Olympic Games.

IPC president Sir Philip Craven

Sir Philip Craven, IPC president, lashed out at the Russian authorities at a news conference today (Sunday), saying: “Tragically this situation is not about athletes cheating a system, but about a state-run system that is cheating the athletes. The doping culture that is polluting Russian sport stems from the Russian government.

“The Russian government has catastrophically failed its para-athletes. Their ‘medals over morals’ mentality disgusts me. The complete corruption of the anti-doping system is contrary to the rules and strikes at the very heart of the spirit of Paralympic sport.

“It shows a blatant disregard for the health and wellbeing of athletes and, quite simply, has no place in Paralympic sport. Their thirst for glory at all costs has severely damaged the integrity and image of all sport, and has certainly resulted in a devastating outcome for the Russian Paralympic Committee and para-athletes.”

However, shortly afterwards FEI President Ingmar de Vos issued a statement expressing dismay at the IPC decision.

He said: “We are very disappointed with today’s IPC decision. Like our Paralympic athletes from all other countries, our three Russian athletes have trained hard to make it to the Paralympic Games and we are troubled that today’s announcement means they cannot participate in Rio.

“Just as for the Olympic Games, we believe the individual International Federations should be given the opportunity to defend the rights of their clean athletes. Today’s IPC decision does not give us that opportunity. We will not embark on any reallocation process until the appeal period has expired and any potential procedures have concluded.”

Paralympics, London 2012
Helen Kearney, Irish Paralympic medallist

Ireland will have a team of 44 athletes, who will compete across nine different sports at the Paralympic Games, including equestrian medallist Helen Kearney, who collected an individual silver and bronze in 2012, and a bronze medal with the Irish para-equestrian team in London.

The Rio 2016 Paralympics begin in 31 days’ time, on 7 September, and 267 Russian athletes across 18 sports will now miss the Games.
Jack Burns