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MOSCOW, August 8. /TASS/. Most Russian Paralympians are absolutely clean of doping abuse, President of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) Vladimir Lukin said on Monday.
"Over the period of more than three years, either 35 or 20 doping samples have been found but they have disappeared and the names [of Para-athletes] are not given. However, a decision was made on this ground to suspend the RPC’s membership. This means an actual ban on our athletes to compete at the Paralympics," Lukin said.
"This means that the team, which numbers about 270 athletes, is banned to do what it has been doing in the past several years, its training practice. An overwhelming majority of athletes are absolutely clean. They have had their doping samples taken on numerous occasions," Lukin said.
According to Lukin, the committee can provide evidence that it honored all anti-doping commitments put forward by the International Paralympic Committee.
"I would like to say that to comply with the Anti-Doping Code, it is necessary to honor all IPC’s commitments. Chapter 2, paragraphs 1 and 3 say that it is the responsibility of a national paralympic committee to make sure that all athletes and personnel are aware of the list of prohibited drugs. We have evidence that this is precisely what we have been doing," Lukin said.
"At the same time, there is another paragraph which says that all test results are controlled by the IPC, its executive board and medical and science director, while the World Anti-Doping Agency bears full responsibility for this work," he added.
"Concerning the state-sponsored system, we were asked to clarify whether we agree that this system does exist," he went on to say. "We are accused of failing to answer this question. However, we can give no answer without an investigation. The Russian Paralympic Committee has neither army nor police of its own. We filed an application with the law enforcement agencies, a commission was set up, and I am one of its members. I want to investigate all these issues."
According to Lukin, the Russian national team continues preparations for the Games in Rio de Janeiro and hopes for a positive court decision on the ban.
"We continue working, our Paralympic team continues preparations for the Games. Seventy-six Russian athletes are monitored by ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration and Management System), and no accusations were brought against them. We hope that the appeal will be satisfied," Lukin said.
RPC Vice-President Pavel Rozhkov confirmed that preparations of Paralympians for the Games did not stop. "We do not suspend preparations for all 18 teams. Athletes are training with understanding, the coach tries to isolate them from negative information," Rozhkov said.
The Russian Paralympic Committee will decide by Monday’s evening to which court it will file an appeal against the decision of the International Paralympic Committee to ban the whole Russian national team from competing in the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games, Rozhkov added.
"We will decide by the end of the day to which court we will file an appeal, because we don’t have much time left," Rozhkov said. "IPC set the deadline for August 15 - this is the last day to file an appeal. IPC also offered us to reduce the terms of considering this case to seven days. We are holding consultations abroad, discussing this with lawyers and will make the right decision in the evening," he added.
Lukin went on to say that banning innocent athletes from the Games is a violation of human rights.
"We are currently considering the kind of arbitration we need. Investigation of doping cases should be continued but it should not turn political. It is necessary that innocent athletes fulfill their rights to take part in the Paralympics. Otherwise it will be a flagrant violation of human rights. Yes, violations occurred, but Olympians had more. Why should Pralympians be punished more severely?" Lukin said.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) made a decision on Sunday to disqualify the Russian Paralympic Committee amid doping allegations and bar Russian athletes from competing at the Rio Paralympics.
As Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS, the ban on Russia Paralympians will be challenged in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
On July 22 IPC opened a case against RPC following a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian law professor, Richard McLaren. The report names 35 Russian Paralympians suspected of doping use. Following the commission’s report, WADA recommended the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and all international sports federations ban Russian athletes from all international sports competitions, including Rio 2016.