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Russian legislator says Paralympics held hostage by political games

The Russian upper house speaker calls the decision to suspend national para athletes cruel and unhuman
Speaker of Russia’s Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV
Speaker of Russia’s Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko

MOSCOW, August 11. /TASS/. Speaker of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament), Valentina Matviyenko, has described the ruling of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to bar Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics as a danger to global sports.

Putting global sports at risk

"The IPC’s decision jeopardizes not only to Russia, but the entire global sports community," Matviyenko wrote in her blog on the official website of the Russian Federation Council on Thursday.

On Sunday, the International Paralympic Committee decided to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee’s accreditation and refused to allow Russian athletes’ entry to the Paralympic Games.

Matviyenko added that such actions "are detrimental to the Olympic and Paralympic movement, which is being held hostage through immoral and destructive political games." The IPC decision "is directed not only against Russia but also against the idea that has been the cornerstone of modern civilization for centuries determining the course of history. "I have in mind the idea of humanism that proclaims a person’s physical, intellectual and spiritual development to be the supreme goal of the historical process," the senator said, adding that "the Paralympic movement operates in full conformity with this idea."

Setting a dangerous precedent

Matviyenko noted that, instead of "providing tangible evidence to substantiate its decision," the IPC offers "declarative statements accusing Russian Paralympic athletes of mass doping abuse, and the Russian authorities - of conniving with this" thus setting "a precedent in the practical use of the principle of collective responsibility in global sports." "To put it bluntly, the Committee does not care one bit about such fundamental human values as justice," she said.

According to the speaker, "politics and morality do not always go side by side, their ways often diverge." "However, even against this backdrop, the decision of the International Paralympic Committee to bar Russia’s national team from Rio Games is amazingly cruel, I would even call it inhuman," Matviyenko said, adding that those who made this decision were guided exclusively by an anti-Russian bias.

She fully supported the appeal of the Russian Paralympic Committee to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to protest against this ruling. "On the other hand, I am perplexed and shocked by the lukewarm response of the international community to the IPC’s cynical actions," the speaker added.

Case background

The International Paralympic Committee opened a case against the Russian Paralympic Committee on July 22 after obtaining from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) a list of 35 Russian parathletes mentioned in a report issued by the Richard McLaren-led independent commission. Later, IPC chief Philip Craven said that another ten Russian parathletes were suspected of violating anti-doping rules. On the basis of the report WADA’s Executive Committee advised the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and all international sports federations to bar Russian athletes from their competitions.

Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the Paralympics from September 7 to September 18.