Banning clean athletes from Olympics unacceptable: Russian minister
Moscow, Feb 6 (IANS) Many Russian sportspersons, especially paralympians, have been unfairly dismissed from competitions, Minister of Sport Pavel Kolobkov said on Monday.
Kolobkov said it is unacceptable to ban clean athletes from the Olympics without evidence, reports Sputnik.
“Barring clean athletes from the Olympics without any real evidence is unacceptable. These issues should be addressed in conjunction with international organisations,” Kolobkov told R-Sport.
He added that 2016 had been rather difficult, stressing that many Russians, especially paralympians, had been unfairly dismissed from competitions.
The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) is open to restore communication with its international counterpart on reinstatement prior to the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the minister said.
“The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is doing its utmost, but unfortunately there is no reciprocal movement from the IPC yet. At the same time, we still hope to establish contact in the near future,” Kolobkov said.
He also noted that “there is still time” for Russian paralympians to compete in Pyeongchang next year.
“Work is carried out on a daily basis, a great number of meetings are held, there is an active correspondence. But if we see full openness and readiness to co-operate from RPC, then unfortunately the IPC is not always ready to quickly resolve this or that issue.”
“I am ready to say with absolute certainty that we will be competitive in nearly every event. Of course we will seek to repeat the Sochi-2014 result. I look at the performance in South Korea with optimism,” he added.
The dismissals have been happening amid a doping scandal, simmering since 2014, which broke out in July 2016 when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission headed by Richard McLaren presented a report accusing Russia of running a statewide doping programme.
The report urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider a blanket ban on the entire Russian Olympic team. The IOC instead let individual sports federations act on the issue.
As a result of the IOC ruling, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned Russian athletes from taking part in international competitions including the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.
The IPC later banned all Russian Paralympic athletes from the 2016 Rio Paralympics and the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
The WADA on December 9, 2016, issued the second part of the Mclaren report on alleged Russian doping abuse, revealing alleged manipulations by athletes in 30 disciplines.