Russia wants to send 33 athletes to Paralympics
Moscow, Feb 2 (AFP) Russia said yesterday it wants 33 athletes to go to the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang where they will compete under a neutral flag as the country remains suspended following revelations of state-sponsored doping.
The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) statement said that the list submitted to the international body features a 79-strong delegation which includes 33 athletes and seven guides for the visually impaired competitiors.
They will compete in five sports at the March 9-18 Paralympics under the Neutral Paralympic Athlete (NPA) banner.
Russia was suspended by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in August 2016 following revelations of widespread state-sponsored doping uncovered in a report by Richard McLaren on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
But athletes are allowed to take part in South Korea as neutrals under an agreement similar to that put in place to allow able-bodied Russian competitors to take part in the Winter Olympics which start next week.
The decision of the IPC on Russia's proposed squad will be known on February 13, said a source.
After a review, the Bonn-based IPC said on Monday that "it is maintaining the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC)".
"However, in recognition of the progress made by the RPC in improving its anti-doping activities, it will allow eligible Russian Para athletes who meet strict conditions to compete in five sports under the name Neutral Paralympic Athlete (NPA)."
IPC president Andrew Parsons said that in 2016 "the anti-doping system in Russia was found to be totally compromised, corrupted and open to abuse".
"This made it impossible to determine which Russian Para athletes were clean and which were not; it was clear that Russia's participation in Para sport events would severely question the integrity and credibility of sporting competition."
Parsons said the measures taken then by the IPC were "necessary and proportionate" and "essential to ensure clean sport".
"Seventeen months on, we face a different picture in Russia and it is important that once again our decision is necessary and proportionate to what is in front of us," he said.
"Although the RPC remains suspended they have made significant progress and we have to recognise this."
Russian Para athletes were now regularly tested and "amongst the most scrutinised Para athletes in the world", he said