Russian Athletes Barred From Competing at Rio Paralympic Games

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – August 7, 2016 – The three Russian athletes entered for the upcoming Paralympic Games in Rio will not be allowed to compete following a decision by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee, effective immediately. Natalia Martyanova, Natalya Zhavoronkova and Marina Vinogradova were Russia’s nominated entries for para-equestrian dressage.

The suspension strips the Russian Paralympic Committee of its rights and privileges of IPC membership. These rights include the ability to enter athletes in competitions sanctioned by the IPC, such as the Paralympic Games.

The IPC announced its decision Sunday, citing the Russian Paralympic Committee’s “inability to fulfill its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory).”

The IPC’s response in the wake of the MacLaren Report, which revealed systematic, state-sponsored doping of Russian athletes, takes a harder line than that of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which allowed Russian athletes to compete in the Rio Olympics if they were individually cleared by their respective sport federations and an IOC panel. All five Russian equestrian athletes, including two dressage competitors, were given the OK to compete in the Olympics.

The Russian Paralympic Committee has 21 days to appeal the suspension.

“Ultimately, as the global governing body for the Paralympic Movement, it is our responsibility to ensure fair competition, so that athletes can have confidence that they are competing on a level playing field,” IPC President Sir Philip Craven said. “On the basis of the evidence we have, in the current environment our member the Russian Paralympic Committee cannot comply with the IPC’s Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code. Those obligations are crucial to the IPC’s guarantee of fair competition for all.”

Craven added, “I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para athletes. I have deep sympathy for Russian Para athletes who will miss out on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. They are part of a broken system and we sincerely hope that the changes that need to happen, do happen. Russia has some top-quality athletes across all sports and we look forward to the day when we can welcome the Russian Paralympic Committee back as a member safe in the knowledge that it is fulfilling all its obligations in order to ensure a level playing field for all.”

FEI President Ingmar De Vos expressed disappointment with the IPC decision.

“Like our Paralympic athletes from all other countries, our three Russian athletes have trained hard to make it to the Paralympic Games and we are troubled that today’s announcement means they cannot participate in Rio,” De Vos said in a statement. “Just as for the Olympic Games, we believe the individual International Federations should be given the opportunity to defend the rights of their clean athletes. Today’s IPC decision does not give us that opportunity. We will not embark on any reallocation process until the appeal period has expired and any potential procedures have concluded.”

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