By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Calling it one of the darkest days in the history of all sports, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Sunday, August 7th, that all 267 Russian Paralympics athletes will not be allowed to participate in this year’s games due to what the IPC calls ‘a systematic doping’ program by the Russian government.
“We were deeply saddened to find that the state-sponsored doping program that exists within the Russian sport regrettably extends to Russia Paralympic sports as well,” said IPC President Philip Craven to a room full of journalists in Rio. “This situation is not about athletes cheating the system, but about a state-run system cheating the athletes,” he added.
According to Craven the doping of Paralympic athletes in past competitions has been uncovered in two reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Craven went on to say that the State’s ‘thirst for glory at all costs has severely damaged the integrity and image of all sport and resulted in a devastating outcome for the Russian Paralympic Committee.
When questioned about the difference between the IPC and the IOC, which let the individual sports federations decide whether or not to ban the Russian athletes, Craven was quick to point out that the rules that govern the IPC were not the same as the ones which govern the IOC. In this year’s Olympics 118 of the 389 Russian athletes were banned from competing.
WADA, which had asked the IOC to ban all Russian athletes from this year’s events applauded the Paralympic Committee’s decision. “The IPC’s decision to uphold ‘morals over medals’ and stand behind the values of clean, fair, doping-free sport sends an important and encouraging message to the clean athletes of the world”, the entity wrote on its website.