Paralympics chiefs took the step that the International Olympic Committee shied away from on Sunday — banning the entire Russian team from competing in Rio.
The International Paralympic Committee announced at a news conference that Russia would be kicked out of its Games, which will run after the conclusion of the Olympics, from Sept. 7-18.
The IPC acted in the wake of a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and written by Richard McLaren regarding a staggering level of state-sponsored, organized doping across the Russian sports system.
"The McLaren report marked one of the darkest days in the history of all sport,” IPC president Sir Philip Craven said. “The actions were a body blow to clean, fair, honest sport. The Russia state-run program of cheating questioned the integrity and credibility of sport as we know it.”
While several national sports committees and anti-doping officials called for Russia to be tossed out of the Olympics following the McLaren report, the IOC backed down from that option, instead leaving it up to each individual sport federation to decide whether to allow Russian athletes.
As a result Russia still has one of the largest delegations at the Games, with 271 athletes in Rio.
Craven and the IPC were prepared to act far more strongly — and Craven’s comments against the Russian system pulled no punches.
“The facts really do hurt,” Craven said. “The system is Russia is broken, corrupted and entirely compromised. Their medals over morals mentality disgusts me. The Russian government has failed its athletes. It shows a blatant disregard for the health and wellbeing of athletes. Their thirst for glory at all costs has damaged all sports.”
Before reaching its unanimous decision, the IPC demanded further answers from McLaren and WADA, allowed time for the retesting of samples and invited the Russian Olympic Committee to provide an explanation for its actions.
“We had to establish the full facts.” Craven added. “And I cant tell you how sad we were to discover that the state-sponsored doping program extends to Russia para-sports as well. Our decision is driven on the need to hold our members accountable.
"(Russia) has shown it is unable to comply with our doping code within its jurisdiction. It can’t fulfill its fundamental obligations as an IPC member. We resolved to suspend Russia with immediate effect.”
Russia won a staggering 80 out of 216 available medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics, including 30 out of 72 golds. McLaren’s report found that the testing procedures across Russian Paralympic competition had been compromised, with urine samples swapped out to avoid positive tests, described by Craven as an “abhorrent practice.”
According to Craven, McLaren provided details of 10 new altered tests this week, and he believes there will be even more evidence of Russian malfeasance soon to emerge. The IPC plans to retest every sample provided by a Russian Paralympic athlete during the Sochi Games.