Russia sees politics behind Paralympics ban, vows to appeal

Mon Aug 8, 2016 2:15pm EDT
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By Andrew Osborn and Jack Stubbs

MOSCOW/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Russia blamed politics for a decision to bar its Paralympians from next month's Rio Games because of a state-sponsored doping programme, saying on Monday it would take legal measures to try to overturn the ban.

The decision to exclude Russia's entire Paralympics team, announced on Sunday by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), means at least 250 Russian competitors are set to miss the Sept. 7-18 Paralympics.

The same scandal has led to 109 out of 387 athletes originally included in the Russian team for the Rio Olympics being banned, including its entire track and field squad.

The imbroglio centres on a report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that found the Russian government and the FSB security service had over years covered up hundreds of doping cases across the majority of Olympic sports, as well as Paralympic events.

The findings have rocked Russian sport and tarnished the legacy of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which were President Vladimir Putin's showcase.

On Monday, Vladimir Lukin, president of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), said that to bar his country's Paralympians from Rio would be a grave human rights violation.

"The overwhelming majority of sports people who were barred from taking part in the Games were absolutely clean sports people," he told a Moscow news conference.

"What comes first, the crime or the punishment?"   Continued...

Russian Paralympic torchbearer Aleksey Ashapatov attends a training session at Yunost sports ground in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, August 8, 2016. REUTERS/Kazbek Basayev