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1ST LEAD All Russian athletes banned from Paralympic Games in Rio By dpa correspondents

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) on Sunday banned Russia outright from the Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.

The blanket ban on the Russian team is in marked contrast to a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow individual sports federations to decide whether Russians can compete in the Olympics.

The IPC said in a statement the Russian Paralympic Committee was suspended with immediate effect "due to its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory)."

In a strongly worded statement, IPC president Philip Craven said: "I believe the Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para athletes.

"Their medals over morals mentality disgusts me. The complete corruption of the anti-doping system is contrary to the rules and strikes at the very heart of the spirit of Paralympic sport.

"It shows a blatant disregard for the health and well-being of athletes and, quite simply, has no place in Paralympic sport. Their thirst for glory at all costs has severely damaged the integrity and image of all sport, and has certainly resulted in a devastating outcome for the Russian Paralympic Committee and Para athletes."

Professor Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had outlined state-backed doping in Russia affecting several Olympic sports and Paralympic disciplines.

But the IOC on July 24 decided against a ban of all Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics.

The IPC had opened suspension proceedings against the Russian Paralympic Committee on July 22 following the WADA report and additional information it had received from McLaren.

The IPC statement said Sunday‘s decision by the governing board was unanimous. In line with the IPC‘s suspension policy, the Russian Paralympic Committee now has 21 days to appeal the decision.

Craven said: "This decision has placed a huge burden upon all our shoulders, but it‘s a decision we‘ve had to take in the best interests of the Paralympic Movement.

"Ultimately, as the global governing body for the Paralympic Movement, it is our responsibility to ensure fair competition, so that athletes can have confidence that they are competing on a level playing field.

"This is vital to the integrity and credibility of Paralympic sport, and in order to achieve this it is fundamental that each member abides by the rules."

Craven added that the McLaren report had shown that state-sponsored doping programme in Russia extended to Russian Paralympic sport as well.

Although not directly referred to in the McLaren Report, the IPC said it now had evidence that the sample swapping regime that operated during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in the Sochi laboratory was also in operation during the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

"Tragically this situation is not about athletes cheating a system, but about a state-run system that is cheating the athletes," Craven said.

"The doping culture that is polluting Russian sport stems from the Russian government and has now been uncovered in not one, but two independent reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency."

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said of the IPC decision: "They are very different issues; the IPC is autonomous.

"There is only the (National Paralympic Committee) NPC (in Russia) and not many IFs (international federations). The gravest charges are from Sochi, it is not surprising if they would take a different decision than the IOC

In the IOC case "you had a corrupt IAAF (athletics federation) at the top and a corrupt national federation" while "they (IPC) only have one national federation; they have to take a blanket decision."

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