The entire Russian team could be banned from the Paralympic Games in Rio, with the International Paralympic Committee set to make a decision in the upcoming days. It was “a complete surprise” and “shock” to the head of the Russian Paralympic Committee, Vladimir Lukin.
“There were no warnings before. [The International Paralympic Committee] has decided to officially raise the question of suspending the work of our national Paralympic Committee, as well as its membership in the International Paralympic Committee,” said Lukin, the president of the Russian Paralympic Committee.
“We couldn’t understand what this decision is based on. Most likely, it’s about the McLaren report [on doping], but that report doesn’t give any data about the Paralympic athletes at all. There is only one table which says that 35 doping test bottles were lost.”
Lukin went onto say that the committee received an additional letter about those lost tests, but the document failed to provide the names of athletes or any specific information whatsoever.
Lukin added that the Russian Paralympic Committee cannot inform the international Paralympic body about any violations simply because it’s not within the institution’s competence.
“We’re not a law-enforcement authority, we’re a victim, even if this cheating existed. And we would have been all the more interested in discovering it, if it did.”
Lukin also says that the athletes will be become victims if this ban actually occurs.
“In our case, they are offering to apply the principle of collective guilt, it’s completely wrong, unjust, and should be corrected.… It’s a mass execution of dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent, clean Paralympic athletes.”
Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva weighed in on the situation, supporting the Russian Paralympic Committee.
“This decision is absolutely beyond my understanding. First of all, our Paralympic athletes have never had any history of doping use. Secondly, the president of our Paralympic Committee, Vladimir Lukin, is a highly-esteemed person, and has never let anything unlawful or unjust happen,” she told RT.
“Moreover, the way the question is raised is cruel, inhumane… and outrageous, both to our Paralympic Committee, and all the more so to our athletes. Things are harder for them, and still… they’ve shown excellent results. They are heroes,” Alekseeva added.
Russian Olympic athletes, including 2006 speed skating gold medalist Svetlana Zhurova and former track and field athlete Iolanda Chen also weighed in, in disbelief that the Paralympic athletes could possibly get banned with no real grounds for it.