Press-ReleaseOn the 23rd of August 2016 the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed an appeal filed by the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) against its membership suspension by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
The CAS decreed that the IPC did not violate any procedural rules in dealing with the disciplinary process and that the decision to suspend the RPC was made in compliance with the IPC rules.
Such a formalistic approach to this situation cannot be justified. Neither the RPC nor Russian Paralympic athletes are mentioned in the published McLaren Report at all, with the exception of a diagram referring to 35 “disappearing positive samples”.
Following the IPC’s decision 266 para-athletes were deprived of their legal right to compete in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. They were barred from the participation, something that able-bodied athletes, who, same as para-athletes, were not found guilty in anti-doping rule violation, were not barred from. The IPC’s decision drastically contradicts the basic principles of international law and European culture which form the foundation of Olympic and Paralympic values.
From our point of view, this decision is incompatible with the principles of humanism and the fundamental concepts stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (adopted in 2010), imbued with the idea of equal rights for people with and without disabilities. This is the principle that all other fundamental international human rights documents are guided by.
Abruptness and disparity of the IPC actions are also striking. On the 11th of July 2016 the RPC received an official letter from the IPC, stating that there were no any allegations addressed to Russian Paralympians, as distinct from Olympians, and Rio awaits them. However, on the 22nd of July 2016 the IPC decided to open suspension proceedings against NPC of Russia and, correspondingly, proceedings to ban all Russian athletes from participation in the Rio Games.
A number of International Sport Federations (IFs) that govern Paralympic sports, including the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) (Wheelchair Fencing), World Archery Federation (WAF), Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), European Para-Taekwondo Union (EPTU) expressed their support for Russian Paralympic athletes to compete in the Games. But this fact was not taken into account by the CAS either.
In the 20 years of its existence, the RPC has been and continues to be a stalwart opponent of anti-doping rule violations. Each of such cases was investigated and those liable were severely punished in full conformity with the IPC recommendations. During the period, the RPC has not received from the IPC any criticism regarding such cases, nor any recommendations to take additional actions. However, not a single NPC within the IPC system has the right to control the safekeeping of doping samples, nor to have appropriate services to ensure such control. All these listed is under WADA and IPC Anti-Doping committee control. All the allegations of the IP Report were addressed to the Ministry for Sport of the Russian Federation and generally to the alleged state-sponsored system for alleged positive sample swapping and disappearing from the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory.
An NPC’s scope of responsibility includes ensuring that all the athletes and athlete support personnel within the team are aware of their responsibilities and the Prohibited Substances List.
The IPC has suspended the RPC due to its inability to ensure that the anti-doping control and anti-doping system are appropriate.
However, over the period of 8 months, since January 2016, all Russian athletes have been tested exclusively by foreign organizations (such as IDTM, PWC, etc.) and only in foreign laboratories under strict control of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).
That’s why saying that the RPC has no anti-doping system and is unable to ensure anti-doping control is absolutely groundless. Anti-doping control is functioning in our country.
It is paradoxical that the villainous and unjust decision was first taken by the IPC and then by the CAS before the completion of the investigation, which was officially declared by Mr. McLaren, the author of the IP report, based on which the decisions were made.
The decisions made by the IPC and the CAS are discriminative towards entirely blameless Russian Paralympians. They attack longstanding focused efforts of the Russian society and government to improve the lives of millions of people with disabilities in Russia.
These IPC and CAS decisions have led to the situation when people with disabilities in Russia to a great extend are losing the tangible and already familiar for them goal of personal growth and fulfillment.
This validation of collective responsibility practice and this gross and unprecedented violation of presumption of innocence abuse human rights.
According to the RPC, Russian athletes still have a chance to compete in the Games. With financial support from Mr. Andrey Ryabinskiy, Vice-President of the Russian Professional Boxing Federation, a team of highly competent international lawyers, including experts from Forward Legal, Froriep, YUST law firms; Russian Federal Chamber of Lawyers, and All-Russian Trade Union of Physical Culture and Sports Employees, will keep fighting for the rights of Russian Paralympians and will make every endeavor to let Russian athletes compete in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
According to Mr. Lucien W. Valloni, Vice-President of the International Sport Lawyers Association, heading the legal team to defend Russian Paralympians’ rights, not all legal opportunities to contest the IPC decision have been exhausted, therefore, Russian and international lawyers will go all the way in order to defend Paralympians.