As punishment over the country’s Olympic doping scandal, Russia has been banned from Sunday’s 2016 Paralympics, which celebrates athletes with a range of physical disabilities.
“The anti-doping system in Russia is broken, corrupted and entirely compromised,” said International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Philip Craven at a press conference in Rio on Sunday.
The move to ban the entire Russian Paralympics team stands in stark contrast to the International Olympic Committee’s ruling to allow each sport to make a decision over whether to allow Russians to compete.
“I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its para athletes,” Craven went on to say (via NPR). “Their medals over morals mentality disgusts me. The complete corruption of the anti-doping system is contrary to the rules and strikes at the very heart of the spirit of Paralympic sport. It shows a blatant disregard for the health and well-being of athletes and, quite simply, has no place in Paralympic sport. Their thirst for glory at all costs has severely damaged the integrity and image of all sport.”
Craven added, “I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para athletes… Tragically this situation is not about athletes cheating a system, but about a state-run system that is cheating the athletes.”
Craven went on to point the finger of blame in the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration.
“The doping culture that is polluting Russian sport stems from the Russian government and has now been uncovered in not one, but two independent reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA),” said the IPC head.
Russia has a history of doping, even in the Paralympics. The 2014 Sochi Paralympics is one example in which the country was found to be guilty of doping. The discovery of its widespread use came last month by WADA investigator Richard McLaren.
Craven said Sunday that last month’s finding “marked one of the darkest days in the history of all sports,” adding that it “questioned the integrity and credibility of sport as we know it.”
Russia came in overall second place at the 2012 London Paralympics. The team had 267 athletes set to compete in Rio in 18 events. They only way they could compete is if an appeal proves successful.