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ABU-DHABI, September 7. /TASS/. The Russian national wheelchair curling team will take part in the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang only in case the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) reinstates Russia’s currently suspended membership in the global organization, IPC spokesman Craig Spence told TASS on Thursday.
Earlier in the year the Russian national wheelchair curling team finished second in the world championship and qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. Russian Para athletes, however, cannot compete as the membership of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) is currently suspended.
"The Russian wheelchair curling team has a qualification position at the moment," Spence said in an interview with TASS.
"Therefore if the suspension is lifted ahead of PyeongChang 2018 and Russia is allowed to compete at the Games, then Russia has already qualified in wheelchair curling," IPC spokesman Spence added.
IPC President Sir Philip Craven announced on Wednesday that the global Paralympic body ruled in favor of extending the current suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) in the international organization.
The IPC president also added that despite the suspension, Russian Para athletes would be allowed to take part in the qualifying tournaments ahead of the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea, but only in the neutral status.
"In recognition of the fact that the RPC only has seven criteria still to meet, the Board has put in place a limited interim measure for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four sports for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games," Craven said. "This is with immediate effect and subject to Russian athletes meeting certain conditions that we have published."
The 22nd Paralympic Winter Games are scheduled to be held in South Korea’s PyeongChang between February 9 and 25, 2018.
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 the RPC membership in the international organization.