Russian team banned from Winter Paralympics, athletes to compete as neutrals

Russia's team has been banned from the upcoming Pyeongchang Paralympics because of its doping past

The IPC said in a statement that "it is maintaining the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC)".

However, "in recognition of the progress made by the RPC in improving its anti-doping activities", the IPC is allowing individual Russian athletes who meet certain conditions to compete in five sports as neutral athletes at the games, which run from March 8-18.

The Paralympic decision stands somewhat in contrast to the International Olympic Committee's ruling on Russia's participation in the 2018 Winter Games next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Russia has been banned from the 2018 Paralympic Games, officials announced Monday, refusing to lift a ban because of what they called an insufficient recovery from the Russian doping scandal.

"On the other hand, this attitude to the people, who prove their right to take part in the Paralympic Games by their courage and will, is blasphemy and madness". The evidence Russian Federation showed to refute the conclusions of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission headed by Richard McLaren is not enough, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons told TASS.

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Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPA) as they will be known will compete in alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, snowboard and wheelchair curling. According to the IPC, "the Taskforce highlighted two criteria that are still outstanding: the full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)" and "the provision of an official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings made by Professor McLaren". Parsons also asserted that the country's anti-doping system "is no longer compromised or corrupted".

Since then, there has been enough improvement to justify allowing Russians to compete as neutral athletes after extra drug testing, Parsons said.

The Paralympic Committee also took a tougher line during the Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, banning Russia entirely from the games, while the IOC permitted the worldwide federations of individuals to choose which athletes to let in.

Beucher claimed the IPC had been influenced by external pressure to create a way in which Russian athletes can compete. Dozens of Russians were banned from competing at the Rio Olympics for the same reason.