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MOSCOW, February 16. /TASS, Yekaterina Mukhlynina, Yevgeny Ionov/. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is looking forward to a meeting with Russian lawmakers to discuss ways of accelerating the reinstatement of the Russian Paralympic Committee’s (RPC) membership in the global organization, IPC spokesman Craig Spence told TASS on Thursday.
Vyacheslav Fetisov, a senior Russian lawmaker and world’s famous ice hockey player, said in an interview with TASS earlier in the day that he would be heading a delegation of Russian lawmakers travelling to Germany next week to discuss prospects for restoring Russia’s membership with the IPC.
Asked how vital this meeting would be on the matter, IPC spokesman Spence told TASS: "The IPC and IPC Taskforce welcome all opportunities to work with and assist the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) in order for it to meet its reinstatement criteria and have its IPC membership restored as soon as is meaningfully possible."
Fetisov, Deputy Head of the Russian State Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs, said the talks with the Russian lawmakers would be personally attended by IPC President Sir Philip Craven.
"The meeting with the Russian State Duma representatives will be led by Andy Parkinson, Chairperson of the IPC Taskforce, together with other members of the IPC, including President Sir Philip Craven," Spence told TASS after being asked whether the IPC chief would be present at the talks.
"Our hope is to discuss ways in which the State Duma representatives might be able to assist the RPC in fulfilling all of its IPC membership obligations," Spence said adding that "a date for the meeting will be scheduled shortly."
The IPC announced in its statement on February 13 that it had reached certain progress with the RPC on the national organization’s membership reinstatement in the global body.
However, the IPC added that the Russian Paralympic body needed to work further on implementing its reinstatement criteria, while the currently imposed suspension would remain in force for an indefinite period.
On August 7, 2016, the IPC decided to bar the entire Russian team from taking part in the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on August 23 upheld the IPC ruling that came on the heels of a report delivered in July by the WADA Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren.
The McLaren-led commission claimed in particular that a total of 35 doping samples were concealed by Russian Paralympic sports between 2012 and 2015.
Besides collectively punishing the Russian national team by banning it from the Rio Games, the IPC also decided to suspend its RPC membership in the international organization. The Russian Paralympic team is now facing the possibility of being banned from the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang.
On November 21, the IPC made public a list of criteria Russia must meet to resume the RPC membership and be allowed to take part in international competitions. Officials from the two Paralympic organizations met in mid-December in Bonn to discuss these criteria.
On January 11, the Russian Paralympic Committee referred to the IPC in its edition of the roadmap for reviving its membership.