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Isinbayeva: CAS ruling on Russian Paralympians is unfair and cruel

August 23, 16:06 UTC+3
IOC member and two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva addressed Russian Paralympians and promised to support them
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© Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

MOSCOW, August 23. /TASS/. Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has called as ruthless and cruel the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to bar Russian athletes from the Rio Paralympics, she told TASS on Tuesday.

"This is unfair and dishonest, ruthless and cruel," Isinbayeva said.

‘We expected the larger part [of the team] to be admitted but you see what has happened. They have made a horrible decision," Isinbayeva said.

Russian athletes who are returning to Moscow from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have morally supported the Paralympians.

Isinbayeva posted the Russian athletes’ video address to the Paralympians in Instagram. "The Paralympians of Russia, you are the best! We are with you!" the Russian athletes who were onboard said in one voice.

"We’re now sitting in the plane and other athletes do not know yet what has happened. We’ll try to support all of them. I personally and we all share, understand and feel the pain and bitterness of each of them. Each of you are our pride and our heroes and you would have won in the team standings as well. We don’t even have any doubts about that. We are with you," Isinbayeva said, addressing Russian Paralympians.

"I know that any words won’t suffice. Be strong as politics will end while sport will live further. Don’t despair as much as possible. You should walk with your head held proudly high as if you have won because you have been and will be heroes for Russia," the two-time pole vault champion said.

CAS ruling raises human rights question

A Russian diplomat says the decision raises serious questions about the respect for human rights. 

"I want to look in the eyes of those people who took this decision. How do they treat the problem of defending the rights of people with disabilities?" Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, Konstantin Dolgov, said. "I do not interfere and do not want to comment on any sports events but from the viewpoint of human rights such decisions raise the most serious questions."

"These people had prepared for years just to perform at the Olympic Games," Dolgov emphasized. "These men and women have colossal courage: despite their serious disabilities, they were strong enough to do sport and perform for the sake of the Olympics’ ideals. And they have been deprived of this possibility," Dolgov stressed.

The diplomat reminded that Russia is against politicizing sport. "No doubt, the principle of collective responsibility is unacceptable," he said. "If anyone violates laws and rules, they should hold responsibility for this, but not those who do not violate them."

He also said that  Russia’s athletes showed great results at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro despite the unprecedented pressure on the team. 

"I think our guys performed well, especially in these uneasy conditions when they tried and continue trying to cast dirt at Russia, Russia’s sport and suspended a significant part of Russian athletes from the Games," Dolgov said. "I think we can be only proud of our guys - both those who won and those who did not do it, but did everything to win," Dolgov stressed. "This is a great reminder to everyone in the world that Russia’s sport was, is and will be at a very serious level."

Сontradictory rulings based on same report 

 Member of the Russian Paralympic Committee’s Executive Board Mikhail Terentiev says the CAS has made two radically different decisions on the basis of the same report.

"This is very sad news. It is another blow to Russia and it came from where nobody had expected. No one thought that on the basis of that same report (delivered by the McLaren-led commission) two different decisions would be made. No words can express the emotions addressed to the coaches and athletes, who had to overcome endless hurdles, struggle with themselves and endure training sessions only to hear such an unjust decision," Terentiev said. 

Olympics and Paralympics start to look like US Open Championship

President of the International Sambo Federation Vasily Shestakov said Olympic and Paralympic Games begin to resemble a US Open Championship.

"There is a feeling that our friends on the other side of the Atlantic are turning the international Olympic and Paralympic movement into a private enterprise and competitions are becoming to resemble a US Open Championship: they admit whom they want and bar those whom they don’t want," he said.

"As one well-known character has said, everything should be given to friends and law to the others. That is, someone may lose batons in a relay race, be caught in doping and they are forgiven everything. There can be one conclusion: we’re present at the downfall of the Olympic movement," Shestakov said.

"From the viewpoint of human morals, this is an unthinkable, inhuman decision infringing on the rights of not simply people but people with limited abilities who have already suffered in their life and sport for them is the way, which helps them survive. They are wreaking havoc not only on sports records but also on individuals, killing their hope and reducing their life. It is hypocrisy when they say that we must do everything for disabled persons but they do quite the opposite. It is incomprehensible where democracy and the presumption of innocence can be seen here," he noted.

Russian Paralympian condemns decision as degrading

Russian six-time Paralympic champion Roman Petushkov told the "Rossiya 24" TV channel that the ruling is a humiliation for people with disabilities.

"We are shocked and depressed", the athlete said. "Not only is this inhumane, it also denigrates people with disabilities, they just walked all over us. I think we must fight tooth-and-nail for our rights. Let them name those who used doping, why adopt this one size fits all approach?", Petushkov added.

The CAS verdict

The International Paralympic Committee earlier suspended the RPC and banned Russian athletes from this year’s Games following the report of the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency led by Richard McLaren. The RPC filed an appeal to the CAS on August 15 against this suspension.

"The CAS Panel in charge of this matter found that the IPC did not violate any procedural rule in dealing with the disciplinary process leading to the RPC’s suspension and that the decision to ban the RPC was made in accordance with the IPC Rules and was proportionate in the circumstances," the CAS’ statement said

The Panel noted that "the RPC did not file any evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was based," it said. The RPC sent an appeal to the CAS on August 15. The Paralympic Games are scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro from September 7 to 18.

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