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Entire Russian team banned from competing in Rio Paralympics

By Scott M. Reid Orange County Register

RIO DE JANEIRO – The International Paralympic Committee on Sunday banned Russia from the Paralympic Games next month in response to allegations that Russia’s state-supported doping program included paralympic athletes.

In announcing a ruling that further highlighted the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to issue a blanket ban against all Russian athletes competing in the Olympic Games, IPC president Sir Philip Craven said he was disgusted with Russian sports and government officials.

“The anti-doping system in Russia is broken, corrupted and entirely compromised,” Craven said, making no attempt to conceal his anger during a news conference Sunday.

“The Russian Paralympic Committee is unable to ensure compliance with and enforcement of the IPC anti-doping code and the world anti-doping code within their own national jurisdiction and they cannot fulfill their fundamental obligation as an IPC member.”

With the ban, 267 Russian athletes in 28 sports will miss the Paralympics, which open Sept. 7 in Rio. Russia is expected to appeal the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The IPC decision came after an investigation conducted by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren and commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency uncovered that the Russian sports ministry manipulated 27 urine samples for paralympic athletes in eight sports. McLaren also found that Russian officials switched out clean urine samples for tests taken from Russian athletes during the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi.

McLaren found Russian officials undertook a similar cover-up of potentially positive tests for Russian athletes during the Sochi Olympics. McLaren’s investigation also revealed that the doping program was overseen by Yuri Nagornykh, Russia’s deputy minister of sport, hand-picked in 2010 by the executive order of Vladimir Putin, then the nation’s prime minister.

McLaren said all doping positives were brought to Nagornykh, a Russian Olympic Committee official. Nagornykh decided which athletes “would benefit from a cover-up and who would not be protected,” McLaren wrote.

“Tragically, this situation is not about athletes cheating a system, but about a state-run system that is cheating the athletes,” Craven said. “The doping culture that is polluting Russian sport stems from the Russian government.

”The Russian government has catastrophically failed its para-athletes. Their ‘medals over morals’ mentality disgusts me. The complete corruption of the anti-doping system is contrary to the rules and strikes at the very heart of the spirit of Paralympic sport.

“It shows a blatant disregard for the health and well-being of athletes and, quite simply, has no place in Paralympic sport. Their thirst for glory at all costs has severely damaged the integrity and image of all sport, and has certainly resulted in a devastating outcome for the Russian Paralympic Committee and para-athletes.”

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