Russia will not be allowed to compete at next month’s Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro after losing its appeal against a complete ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday.
Earlier this month the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) and therefore the entire Russia team from the 2016 Paralympics, which run from September 7-18, because of state-sponsored doping.
“The CAS Panel in charge of this matter found that the IPC did not violate any procedural rule in dealing with the disciplinary process leading to the RPC’s suspension and that the decision to ban the RPCwas made in accordance with the IPC Rules and was proportionate in the circumstances,” CAS said in a statement.
“The Panel also noted that the RPC did not file any evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was based.”
The International Olympic Committee decided against a ban of all Russian athletes from the just-ended Rio Olympics over the same allegations of systematic doping across sport.
That was despite the World Anti-Doping Agency recommending a blanket suspension following two independent reports into widespread drug use in Russia.
However, Russia’s track and field athletes were barred from the Rio Olympics by international athletics federation the IAAF.
The IPC said it was “greatly encouraged” that CAS had rejected Russia’s appeal.
“Today’s decision underlines our strong belief that doping has absolutely no place in Paralympic sport, and further improves our ability to ensure fair competition and a level playing field for all Para athletes around the world,” IPC president Philip Craven said in a statement.
“Although we are pleased with the decision, it is not a day for celebration and we have enormous sympathy for the Russian athletes who will now miss out on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. We hope this decision acts as a catalyst for change in Russia.”
He had previously said the Russian government “has catastrophically failed its Para athletes” over state-backed drug use.
Russia reacted with fury to the CAS decision and said some of the country’s top lawyers will now work on appealing the decision. CAS is the world’s top sports court but civil proceedings may follow.
Dmitry Svishchev, chairman of the Russian parliamentary committee on culture, sports and youth affairs, said the Switzerland-based court had shown “unprecedented audacity and unscrupulousness” in comments carried by Russian state news agency TASS.
“You can punish the officials and coaches, but you cannot punish the athletes. When you see what they’re doing, despite their hardships, you feel like taking your hat off to them. Such people should only be respected,” he said.
Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko condemned the court’s ruling as politically motivated and without legal grounds, according to TASS.
The Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) – a worldwide body – has also criticized a blanket ban on Russia at the Paralympics, saying it was unfair on clean athletes.
However, the German anti-doping agency was among those to issue a statement on Tuesday praising CAS’ stance.
“This decision is for the sake of clean athletes. The decision also strengthens the anti-doping work of Paralympic sport. It is a clear sign on behalf of clean and fair performance,” it said.
Russia is due to host the football World Cup in 2018.