The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday banned all Russians from its own Games next month because of the widespread doping culture that it says has polluted sport in the country.
The IPC announced the decision to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee in Rio, with its president Philip Craven saying that Russia’s Paralympians were part of a broken system that stems from the Russian government.
Russia immediately announced it would be appealing against the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The IPC decision follows the publication of the McLaren Report last month that implicated Russian Para-athletes in the widespread doping and cover-ups that led to the selective banning of many competitors from the Olympics.
While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided against a blanket ban, the IPC had no such concerns about its own Games that run from Sept. 7-18.
Craven said on Sunday he had “deep sympathy” for the competitors who will miss the Paralympics but that the decision was taken in the best interests of the Paralympic movement.
Last month the IPC said: “In view of the culture endemic within Russian sport at the very highest levels, NPC Russia appears unable or unwilling to ensure compliance with and the enforcement of the IPC’s Anti-Doping Code within its own national jurisdiction.”
Parasport is not widely followed or celebrated in Russia, a county where rights campaigners say many disabled people are marginalised by regressive social attitudes, poor infrastructure and inadequate state support.
But Russian para-athletes are some of the most successful in the world, topping the medal table in Sochi and coming second after China at London 2012.
Their exclusion from the Rio Games is yet another blow to Russia’s reputation as a global sporting powerhouse after dozens of Russian sportspeople were barred from Olympic competition for doping offences.
It also further tarnishes the legacy of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, an event held up by President Vladimir Putin to promote his image of Russia as a resurgent world power. Addressing Russia’s Olympic team before they travelled to Rio last week, Putin said Russian sport had fallen foul of a politically motivated plot fomented by foreign rivals.