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MOSCOW, September 8. /TASS/. The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) has launched its work in cooperation with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) regarding the participation of Russian Para athletes in the qualifying tournaments for the 2018 Paralympics in PyeongChang, RPC President Vladimir Lukin told TASS on Friday.
IPC former President Craven announced on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi that although the global Paralympic body acknowledged Russia’s significant progress in the implementation of the membership reinstatement criteria, the suspension would remain in force.
However, Craven, who was replaced in his post earlier in the day by Brazil’s Andrew Parsons, announced that Russian Para athletes were cleared to enter the qualifying tournaments of the 2018 Paralympics in the status of neutral representatives in four sports, namely alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard.
"We are currently dealing with numerous practical issues regarding the implementation of this decision," RPC President Lukin said in an interview with TASS. "However, we intend to establish a solid contact with the IPC work group and other establishments to begin settling these technical, but extremely important issues."
Parsons, 40, was elected as the new IPC president earlier on Friday at the organization’s session in Abu Dhabi. His victory came in the first round of the secret ballot election and Parsons replaced Sir Philip Craven, who headed the international organization for 16 years.
"In fact, we have already launched this work and will carry on with it as soon as the new (IPC) administration assumes office," Lukin added.
The 22nd Paralympic Winter Games are scheduled to be held in South Korea’s PyeongChang between February 9 and 25, 2018.
According to IPC spokesman Craig Spence, Russia’s Paralympians, who have been cleared to compete in the qualifying tournaments for the 2018 Winter Paralympics in the status of neutral athletes, will be advised against any manifestations of the national flag colors during competitions.
The IPC spokesman also said that in case any Russian Para athlete would win in his or her respective competition to step on the pedestal, the official Paralympic anthem would be played to honor the winner, instead of the Russian national anthem.
Similar regulations were applied by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in regard to Russia’s track and field athletes this summer, when the international federation cleared them for the 2017 World Championships in London in the status of neutral athletes.
Nineteen Russian track and field athletes were cleared to take part in the 2017 IAAF World Championships, which was held in London between August 4 and 13. However, they were allowed to compete as neutral athletes as the ARAF’s (All-Russia Athletics Federation) membership in the IAAF was suspended.
Russian track and field athletes were banned from wearing gear of the national team or wear any apparel symbolizing the Russian flag at competitions. The same rules applied to the escorting staff of the Russian national team in London.
Athletes from Russia competing in the ANA (Authorized Neutral Athlete) capacity at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London won a total of six medals, namely one gold and five silvers.
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.