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Drug Scandal: Entire Russian Team Banned from Paralympic Games

  • VOA Staff

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, President Vladimir Putin, foreground left, speaks as he meets with the national paralympic team after they returned from the Paralympic Games 2012 in London, in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia. The entire Russia team has been banned from competing in the Paralympic Games in September as punishment for the country's systematic doping program.

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, President Vladimir Putin, foreground left, speaks as he meets with the national paralympic team after they returned from the Paralympic Games 2012 in London, in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia. The entire Russia team has been banned from competing in the Paralympic Games in September as punishment for the country's systematic doping program.

The entire Russian team has been banned from the Paralympic Games in September, a stiffer penalty stemming from the country's systematic doping program that extends beyond the partial ban imposed on Russian athletes who were hoping to compete in the current summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro.

The International Olympic Committee approved the entry of 271 Russian athletes at the Rio games, about 70 percent of the country's original team. But the International Paralympic Committee strongly condemned Moscow's doping program, including at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, and issued a blanket ban on Russian athletes hoping to enter the September 7-18 competition, also in Rio.

"Tragically this situation is not about athletes cheating a system, but about a state-run system that is cheating the athletes," said IPC President Philip Craven. "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."

He added, "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 the Paralympic sport."

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) poses for a picture with Russian athletes who won the cross-country skiing open relay at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympic Games, March 15, 2014.

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) poses for a picture with Russian athletes who won the cross-country skiing open relay at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympic Games, March 15, 2014.

The Paralympic Games, conducted for athletes with a range of physical disabilities, are expected to attract more than 4,300 entrants from 160 countries to compete in 22 sports.

The World Anti-Doping Agency two weeks ago detailed a state-sponsored system that helped Russian athletes avoid positive drug tests through tampering with urine samples, implicating the Russian sports ministry in a doping system system that involved athletes in more than two dozen summer and winter Olympic sports.

Daria Spiridonova (RUS) of Russia competes on the balance beam during the women's qualifications.

Daria Spiridonova (RUS) of Russia competes on the balance beam during the women's qualifications.

The International Olympic Committee rejected calls from anti-doping agencies to ban the entire Russian team from the current Rio games, with IOC President Thomas Bach saying that individual athletes cleared of wrongdoing should not be punished for the actions of the Russian government.

"We had to follow the rules of justice and justice has to be independent from politics," Bach said. "You cannot answer to a violation of a law by another violation of a law. This is destroying justice. We had to respect basic principles of natural law."

Instead, the IOC asked international federations for various sports to consider the eligibility of individual athletes.

The Russian track and field team was the hardest hit, with only U.S.-based long jumper Darya Klishina cleared to compete in Rio because she had been regularly drug-tested outside Russia.

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