Russia has been banned from the 2018 Paralympic Games, officials announced on Monday, refusing to lift a ban because of what they called an insufficient recovery from the Russian doping scandal.
But some of the athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the coming Winter Games — a decision taken with some disagreement among top Paralympics executives, who were unanimous in their decision not to lift the ban.
“What was uncovered was not a minor breach of an obligation,” Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said at a news conference in Bonn, Germany on Monday. “This was an orchestrated attack on the integrity of sport.”
Justifying the continued ban, Mr. Parsons pointed to Russian officials’ lacking cooperation with global sports regulators as well as their failure to acknowledge the evidence of systematic cheating laid out nearly two years ago.
Critically, however, he also praised “solid progress” within Russia with respect to antidoping education and drug testing — progress that had inspired confidence in the organization’s ability to distinguish between clean athletes and tainted ones, he said.
Each Russian Paralympian who is approved to compete, he said, will be identified in competition as a “Neutral Paralympic Athlete.” Olympic officials have approved individual Russian athletes to be identified by their nationality, as “Olympic athlete from Russia.”
Russia’s state-backed cheating, deconstructed in investigative reports in 2016, corrupted the results of numerous major global competitions across disciplines and years — most dramatically the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. At those Paralympics, the host nation won 80 medals, nearly five dozen more than the second-ranking country.
Immediately after the revelations that Russian Paralympians had used anabolic steroids to gain an edge over their competitors in Sochi, the Paralympic Committee banned Russia in August 2016, weeks ahead of the Rio Games. Philip Craven, then head of the committee, denounced Russia as having chosen “medals over morals.”