Russia’s non-participation in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was confirmed on Tuesday as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed the Russian Paralympic Committee’s (RPC) appeal against their suspension by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
There were mixed emotions from the IPC President, Sir Philip Craven after the decision when he said in a statement. “We are greatly encouraged that the CAS Panel has upheld the IPC Governing Board’s unanimous decision to hold the Russian Paralympic Committee accountable for its membership responsibilities and obligations.” Before he continued, “Although we are pleased with the decision, it is not a day for celebration and we have enormous sympathy for the Russian athletes who will now miss out on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. It is a sad day for the Paralympic Movement, but we hope also a new beginning. We hope this decision acts as a catalyst for change in Russia and we can welcome the Russian Paralympic Committee back as a member safe in the knowledge that it is fulfilling its obligations to ensure fair competition for all.”
With that decision now made, the next step is for the 267 slots for athletes at the Paralympic Games that were taken by Russian athletes to be reallocated. With such short notice this may be difficult but the IPC will work with the various International Federations of each sport to determine who receives those places.
The appeal to the CAS was based solely on procedural grounds, as the CAS did not judge the status of the RPC as a governing body or any natural justice or personal rights issues of individual athletes. This meant Russia had to prove wrong doing by the IPC.
The RPC failed to do this, as the CAS outlined in their statement saying “The CAS Panel in charge of this matter found that the IPC did not violate any procedural rule in dealing with the disciplinary process leading to the RPC’s suspension and that the decision to ban the RPC was made in accordance with the IPC Rules and was proportionate in the circumstances. The Panel also noted that the RPC did not file any evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was based.”
This decision comes after a lot of big talk from Russian politicians that Russia would provide evidence against the IPC suspension at the CAS. But that was only talk, as the CAS outlines that not only did Russia not provide satisfactory evidence, they failed to file any evidence at all, essentially signing the suspension before the trial even started.