LONDON (Reuters) – The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Wednesday it was maintaining its suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee but had yet to make a final decision on whether it can compete at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.
In a statement, the IPC said it had also kept in place an interim measure for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four winter sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard.
A final decision on whether Russian athletes can compete at the Games in Pyeongchang will be made in January.
The IPC imposed a blanket ban on Russia from the Rio Paralympics last year after revelations of a systematic doping culture in the country — a tougher stance than the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who elected not to ban Russians from the Games in Brazil.
“Although the IPC Governing Board continues to be impressed at the level of co-operation and progress made so far by the RPC, it is united in its decision to maintain the suspension as the reinstatement criteria have not yet been met in full,” new IPC president Andrew Parsons said on Wednesday.
“The RPC is making headway with the IPC on three of the five remaining reinstatement criteria, however sadly, and much to our growing disappointment and frustration, there is a lack of progress regarding an official response from the Russian authorities specifically and adequately addressing the McLaren findings and evidence.”
The McLaren report in 2016 found more than 1,000 Russian competitors in over 30 sports had been involved in a conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests over a five-year period.
The IOC recently issued a ban on Russia for the Winter Olympics which take place in South Korea from Feb. 9-25, although will allow “innocent” athletes to compete as neutrals.
The Winter Paralympics begin on March 8.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)