MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told TASS on Wednesday he was disappointed with the decision of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to keep in force Russia’s membership suspension.
The IPC announced earlier in the day that it decided to maintain the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) and to make a final decision in late January on whether the National Paralympic Committee can participate in the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang.
"We are disappointed that the decision regarding the suspension of the RPC remained in force," Kolobkov said in an interview with TASS. "The RPC implemented all of the previously stipulated (reinstatement) criteria."
"I see as groundless the IPC argument that the membership reinstatement depends on the work of the (Russian) Investigative Committee and the acknowledgment of the McLaren report’s findings," the Russian sports minister said.
The world’s governing body of Paralympic sports 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.
One of five provisions at the issue states that Russia is obliged to come up with "an official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings made by Professor McLaren."
Sports Minister Kolobkov said that the IOC decisions earlier in the day were also positive since the organization left in force its decision regarding the participation of Russian Paralympians in the qualifying tournaments under a neutral flag ahead of the 2018 Winter Games.
"The positive moment is that all athletes, who have been participating in the qualifying tournaments, will keep participating further," Kolobkov said.
The IPC 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.
Kolobkov also said that the Russian Sports Ministry would keep its close work with the Russian Paralympic Committee regarding the decision of Russia’s participation in the 2018 Winter Paralympics.
"The IPC decided to postpone the decision, but it would be made in late January," he said. "We believe that it will be simply a technical decision. It is obvious that the RPC will be discussing with us all issues of participation."
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.