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The RPC Secretary General, 5-times Paralympic champion, member of RUSADA Watch Group, chairman of the RPC Coordination Committee on cooperation with the IPC Taskforce regarding RPC reinstatement criteria, Andrey Strokin interviewed by RPC press-service on

02 February 2017

What the RPC has done so far?

We have received the reinstatement criteria from the IPC on November 21, 2016. After consideration of the document, the some questions and notes raised, which required more details, specifications and legal certainty. Next day we sent out the Criteria to head coaches of  summer and winter sports, presidents of the national disabled sport federations, the RPC Governing  Board members, where such well-regarded and famous persons are residing: Rima Batalova – 13-times Paralympic champion, State Duma Deputy, chair of the RPC Athlete’s Committee; Mikhail Terentyev – Paralympic champion, State Duma Deputy; Sergey Shilov – 6-times Paralympic champion; Irina Gromova – head coach of the Russian Nordic Skiing Team; as well as regional representative of the RPC. As a feedback, we received more than 170 notes and suggestions. During the discussions about the criteria, the most arrived at a common view, that sport is not a place for doping and that individuals guilty of breach of the anti-doping rules must be punished, if their guilt is found. As about any state-sponsored doping system there has never been and there is no state-sponsored doping scheme in Russia. We are always maintaining this attitude and will further follow it.

The proposed criteria are needed to be implemented in respect with Russian and international legislation. There were also other opinions. So, for example, the RPC Governing Board  member, head coach of the Russian Nordic skiing team, Irina Gromova suggested “to take a break in work with the IPC for uncertain term, as we cannot prove it and it has no sense to talk with them, as we are completely innocent”. The money required by the IPC  must be spent for organization of big competitions with invitation of international athletes from other countries”. Sergey Shilov, 6-times Paralympic champion, suggested “to punish athletes using doping in accordance with Paralympic Handbook, prosecute any actions and do not implement any IPC requirements”. During the discussions, the RPC took the common stand, on how to implement the reinstatement criteria, which was considered during the meeting between the IPC and the RPC representatives, headed by IPC CEO Mr. Xavier Gonzalez and RPC Governing Board Chairman and First Vice-President Mr. Pavel Rozhkov in Bonn on December 20. At the meeting the RPC, taking into account that end of 2018 Paralympic Games qualification period is approaching, suggested to take upon itself the work on preparation of draft version of “roadmap”, which deemed to specify the articles of reinstatement criteria.

Also, upon the recommendation of the IPC Taskforce the RPC addressed the IPC with a proposal to allow  Russian athletes to participate in the qualifying competitions for the 2018 Paralympic Games with the guarantee of the implementation of the taken obligations . As is known, the IPC Governing Board declined the RPC.

As everyone knows, we have expressed a fundamental disagreement with the IPC decision to suspend the  RPC  membership . Nevertheless, along with the work to defend the interests of our Paralympic athletes, in accordance with Russian and international law, we began to forward the information to the IPC about the fulfillment of the Criteria. On January 11, in accordance with the agreements reached at the meeting on December 20, we sent a tentative draft  of the "road map" to the IPC.

After that, we contacted IPC CEO  Xavier Gonzalez, head of the IPC Taskforce Andy Parkinson and IPC Chief of Staff Mike Peters asking to agree further actions. We were told that  we would  be formally communicating in due course after IPC GB Meeting at the end of January. Using the pause before the beginning of the IPC GB Meeting we were meeting with the athletes and coaches, members of the RPC Board and discuss  further actions of the RPC.

So 17-19 January in Ufa during the Sledge Hockey Continental Cup, I met with members of the Russian national team, specialists in the Paralympic movement of the region and consulted with them on this issue. January 20, the Chairman of the RPC GB, First Vice-President of the RPC Pavel Rozhkov held meetings with the athletes during Russian cross-country and biathlon Championship in Peresvet. Head coach of the Russian national team, a member of the RPC Governing Board  Irina Gromova gathered all participants, among whom there were such famous athletes as Roman Petushkov - 6-time Paralympic champion, Sergey Shilov - 6-time Paralympic, the Executive Board Member of the RCC, a member of the RPC Governing Board , 2 times Paralympic Champion  Svetlana Konovalova, Rushan Minnegulov - 2 timed Paralympic Champion champion and others. Rozhkov informed them about what is being done andhas been by the RPC in order to reinstate the RPC membership in the IPC. The RPC has received full support from the participants in these matters. Everyone who is interested can read all discussions and statements on the official website of the Russian Paralympic Committee. 

The main objective right now is coordination of the Road map on the RPC reinstatement at the IPC, where all core requirements of the RPC toward the IPC as well as specific terms of implementation are outlined. During the meeting of December 20, the assumption was that the draft of the Road map would be analyzed by the end of January.  But, the IPC press release published on December 31 stated that, further updates will be discussed by the IPC Governing Board at their next meeting in May.

 As of today, apart from the Road map, we had not received from the IPC materials that were agreed upon at  the December 20 meeting, such as; draft of agreement on across -boarder provision of personal data, sample of the form for entering  personal data of athletes, coaches, doctors, other specialists of the Russian National Team, the RPC staff, members of the IPC Governing Board, members of the IPC committees and commissions,  proposals for financial provision necessary to meet the reinstatement criteria, information regarding the IPC Taskforce activities within indicated timeframes, as well as interim reports.

Prior to receiving  an affirmation of the Road map, the RPC taking into consideration the IPC requirements implemented the Hot line project targeted at reporting any doping rules violations, at the Governing Board meeting of January 10, 2017 approved the RPC Order on creation of the RPC Coordinating Committee for cooperation with the IPC Taskforce on all matters related to implementation of Reinstatement criteria, complied and sent to the IPC the National lists of athletes ( Lists A and B) whose participation is expected in forthcoming international competitions, prepared and sent out to the IPC and the IPC Taskforce the Structure of the RPC Governing Board as well the structure of the RPC entire staff.

Currently, the RPC jointly with the RUSADA; conducts seminars on anti doping provisions and rules for athletes, coaches and specialists of the National Team, collects personal data, analyzes the RPC activities in accordance with the RPC’s Constitution, creating programs for anti doping provision.

Presently, we continue to strictly comply with our obligations and cooperate with international organizations on all issues related to anti doping provisions. Vladimir Lukin,  President of the RPC is an active member of the Independent Publics Anti-doping Commission headed by Vladimir Smirnov. The RPC President is actively involved is the development of the Russian National Anti-doping Plan 

Do you have at least some hope that the Russian athletes will take part in the Winter Paralympics 2018 in the Korean Pyeongchang?

The IPC press release says that we have such an opportunity, in case of RPC's reinstatment in the IPC membership and applying for bilateral invitations, which will be considered by the IPC in 8-25 January 2018. In February 1, 2018 IPC will determine what athlete and which country will receive bilateral invitations. It is also possible to get to the Paralympic Games using slots that were declined by  National Paralympic Committees. The distribution of slots  will be done before July 31, 2017

I would also like to note that in the 19 sports included in the program of the Paralympic Games, the International Federation of some  summer and winter sports didn't share the IPC decision, and allowed Russian athletes to participate in all international competitions, including the European and World Championships. For example, Russian  Wheelchair Curling Team is preparing for the World Cup, which will be held in March 4-11 at homeland of Paralympic Games 2018 in the city of Pyeongchang. Russian National Cycling Team in 2017 will defend the colors of the national flag at two world championships: in February 25 - March 7 in USA and in 26 August - 5 September in the Republic of South Africa. Besides, Russian Paralympic Team in 2017 is planning to take part in 18 world championships, 10 European championships. All the relevant information on participation of Russian athletes in the competitions can be found on the official website of the Russian Paralympic Committee.

As you can see, talks on absence of RPC's activities in the current difficult situation are appeared to be at the best case incompetent and in worst very well-orchestrated by someone.
We are saying to everyone who is eager honestly and unselfishly to help para athlete to come with your advices and proposals. We will listen to them and discuss their proposals. And for those who want to take advantage out of this difficult situation and break up our movement, I must say - it will not work!

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