MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. The International Paralympic Committee announced on Wednesday that it would make a decision regarding the Russian national team’s participation in the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang in late January.
"The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced… that it is maintaining the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) and will make a final decision on whether the National Paralympic Committee can compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in late January," the IPC said in its official statement.
The decision regarding the RPC membership reinstatement and Russia’s possbile participation in the 2018 Winter Paralympics was made at the IPC Governing Board’s meeting on December 19.
The IPC also stated that it kept in force its previous decision regarding "an interim measure for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four winter sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard."
"The measure, first announced in September, aims to preserve the ability of the RPC to enter its qualified athletes into the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games should it have its suspension lifted in time," the statement from the IPC said.
The world’s governing Paralympics body stated that Russia’s membership suspension remained in force since the RPC failed to implement five provisions set out in the roadmap of the IPC Taskforce, which oversees the implementation of the requirements for the RPC reinstatement.
"According to the IPC Taskforce that is responsible for monitoring the RPC’s progress in meeting the reinstatement criteria, five key criteria still need to be met before it will recommend lifting the suspension to the IPC Governing Board," the statement said.
The IPC stated that five criteria at the issue are:
• The approval of the RPC’s constitution by the IPC membership department
• Completion of all budget-related aspects of the reinstatement criteria
• Confirmation from the Russian Ministry of Sport that the required changes to the Russian legislation have been passed in order to allow for the proper enforcement of provisional and final suspensions against athlete support personnel (and reflection of those changes in the standard athlete support personnel agreements used by the Centre of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia (CSP)
• The full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
• The provision of an official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings made by Professor McLaren.
Commenting on the decisions, IPC President Andrew Parsons said that although the suspension remained in force the Russian Paralympic authorities achieved great progress in meeting the reinstatement criteria.
"Although the IPC Governing Board continues to be impressed at the level of co-operation and progress made so far by the RPC, it is united in its decision to maintain the suspension as the reinstatement criteria have not yet been met in full," Parsons was quoted as saying in the IPC statement.
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, 2016 upheld the IPC ruling that came on the heels of a report delivered a month earlier by the WADA Independent Commission, chaired by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren.
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.
IPC President Parsons also stated on Wednesday that Russia needed to provide a response regarding the reinstatement criteria on allegations in the McLaren report.
"The RPC is making headway with the IPC on three of the five remaining reinstatement criteria, however sadly, and much to our growing disappointment and frustration, there is a lack of progress regarding an official response from the Russian authorities specifically and adequately addressing the McLaren findings and evidence," he said.
"Since last December’s second McLaren report yet more evidence has come to light to support and add weight to his findings. If the Russian authorities believe his findings and evidence are not credible, then suitable supporting evidence and explanations should be provided to properly rebut them," Parsons added.