RT.com, Aug 8, 2016
The following is a timeline published on RT.com on August 7 and 8, 2016, following by an interview with an analyst.
Timeline of Russian Paralympic team’s ban from Rio Games:
Aug 8, 2016
10:28 GMT Forbidding Russian Paralympians from taking part in the Rio Games is a “grave human rights abuse,”Russian Paralympic Committee President Vladimir Lukin has stated. “Most of the athletes denied participation so far are totally ‘clean.’ Their samples have been tested in various conditions, using various parameters…,”Lukin told journalists, adding that foreign experts also took part in conducting the tests. He added that foreign experts also took part in the tests.
Aug 7, 2016
23:05 GMT The World Anti-Doping Agency has issued a statement, saying it “supports the decision taken by the IPC, which we believe is in the interest of clean athletes and the clean sport movement.”
“The IPC’s decision follows the WADA Executive Committee’s 18 July recommendation to the IPC that they consider declining entries of athletes by the Russian Paralympic Committee for Rio 2016 as a result of the McLaren Report,”the statement added.
20:39 GMT Prominent human rights activist and the head of Russia’s oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseeva, has called Russia’s Paralympic ban “cruel and unjust.”
“I’m very disappointed,”Alekseeva told TASS. “The Paralympians deserve respect, empathy and admiration for the way they overcome terrible diseases. I wrote to the International Paralympic Committee urging for this issue to be resolved in some other way, but, unfortunately, the decision was taken [to ban Russia].”
20:34 GMT The whole doping scandal has been initially politicized, Stephen Ebert, an American journalist and political commentator told RT, stressing that the blanket ban imposed by IPC against the whole Russian Paralympic team was a result of the fact that “the IPC is much more a subject to political pressure” and is “under way more pressure from [the West].”
20:32 GMT “[Russia] does seem to be hit a lot harder than, for example, Kenya … that announced that athletes could actually buy their innocence, they could buy clean samples for £10,000 ($13,000). So it does seem very [much] directed against Russia and more than … unfair,” Alan Moore, brand director of BOSSNA Professional Sports Nutrition and sports columnist, told RT.
20:31 GMT The IPC decision violates the international anti-doping rules, Paul Green, a sports lawyer, told RT. “The World Anti-Doping code, if you look at it, only bans individuals. And it is the burden of the anti-doping organization to prove to the comfortable satisfaction of a hearing panel that somebody committed an anti-doping rules violation,”he said, adding that the IPC ban imposed against Russian athletes is very broad and thus legally vulnerable.
19:44 GMT “The sort of ‘collective responsibility’ that is now being spoken by the international sports bodies about has only existed in the Middle Ages, or maybe during Nazi times, and I can’t even understand how it has been allowed to become a legal concept again,” Mikhail Terentiev, a former gold-winning Paralympian, and the Secretary General of Russia’s Paralympic Committee has told RT.
18:58 GMT Russia’s Olympic Committee President, Aleksandr Zhukov, has expressed regret that the International Paralympic Committee gave in to political pressure and banned the disabled Russian athletes from Rio.
“The IPC succumbed to political pressure. One can only regret that the IPC didn’t follow the example of the International Olympic Committee, which gave an opportunity to clean the Russian athletes to participate in the Olympic Games,”Zhukov said, as cited by Interfax.
18:32 GMT Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko told RT that he was “disappointed but not surprised by the decision,” which he says was anticipated by Russian officials after the Observer published a story revealing the ban on Saturday.
“There should have been some public procedures in place, members of the Russian Paralympic Committee should have been invited to a discussion, allowed to see the evidence against it, and had a chance to defend itself.”
The official has said that the Russian side will now study the decision against it, and that the government would “provide all necessary aid” for launching an appeal, if it is merited. Mutko also pointed out that the ban is being imposed on a country that spends a lot of resources on Paralympic sports, and Russia should be “thanked and not punished” for its dedication to a branch of athletic activity that has little commercial potential.
18:31 GMT The ruling to ban the Russian Paralympic athletes goes against the core human rights principles upon which modern society is built, Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said. “The decision on non-admission of the Russian Paralympic team to the Paralympic Games stuns with its meanness and inhumanity. This is a betrayal of the highest human rights standards, which form the basis of the modern world,”Zakharova wrote on Facebook.
Russian Paralympic team ban – ‘crass & insensitive decision’
The International Paralympic Committee’s to issue a blanket ban on Russian athletes was poorly thought out and is wide open to legal challenge; every athlete should be given due justice and tested individually, say experts. The entire Russian Paralympic team has been banned from next month’s Paralympic Games in Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil following the World Anti-Doping Agency’s damning investigation into doping.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) suspended the Russian squad after 35 team members were mentioned in the WADA report, which was issued on July 22, only days before the opening of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Further IPC research tested 45 samples, of which 27 across eight sports were Paralympians. And of those eight sports, only 5 were summer events, leaving just 11 positive tests. Yet, now all 267 Russian athletes are excluded from the Games.
Ellis Cashmore, Professor of Sociology at Aston University said he is “horrified at the decision.”
“Let’s just refresh our memories a little. Two weeks ago, we breathed a bit of a sigh of relief, when the IOC [International Olympic Committee] announced that it was leaving the decisions on the Russian athletes – apart from track and field – to the individual federations. And over the period following, each federation made its own decision on what athletes to disqualify and whom they should allow.
“We have 271 Russian athletes currently competing in the Olympics. The thing is that the Paralympic Committee is independent of the IOC; it does not have to abide by its decisions at all. It seems that it’s looked at the same research, it’s interpreted the results differently, and it’s arrived at fundamentally different conclusions as to what should be done.
“What it’s done, I believe, is it has reacted to the consensus of the Western media opinion. I don’t think the media necessarily reflected accurately the mood of people in the streets, because a lot of people like me felt that the IOC had made a perfectly reasonable decision by just saying: ‘Hey, let the individual federations make their own decisions rather than this blanket ban,’which would, as we’ve just heard, have punished the innocent as well as the guilty.
“The Paralympic Committee has arrived at a different decision and decided to go full tilt and issue a blanket ban. What I think it has done is really poorly thought out, it is crass and it’s an insensitive decision that is wide open to legal challenge. I imagine over the next 31 days, the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have its head spinning with challenges to this decision.
“I am sure that every Paralympic athlete will, at the moment, be contemplating how they can get into the Olympic squad somehow by hook or by crook – if that is by legal means, then they will pursue those legal means. And I have every sympathy with them, because these are athletes who have worked steadfastly for four years. Anybody who has seen Paralympians in motion cannot help but think to themselves: how on Earth do they do this? They achieved the most miraculous skills that are almost unimaginable. I so much admire disabled athletes. I am horrified at this decision. I can only hope that it is beaten back by the Court of Arbitration…”
RT: Do you think that is becoming more and more politicized? If yes, to what extent, do you think?
Ellis Cashmore: It has always been political. It’s been political from the outset. This whole thing started two months ago, as we know. I said at the time this is the biggest political story in the history of the Olympics. I still believe that. It’s got even bigger now. It is also the story of the media. The Western media in particular has been almost, I imagine, unanimous… Most people said, ‘We wanted the Russians out; we wanted a blanket ban; we want them disqualified from the entire Olympics.’
Everyone’s attention has been deflected away from other nations where doping is rife. We’ve heard only this morning that a Kenyan official has been accused of taking bribes in return for covering up positive dope tests. So three is the first evidence, and there will be more evidence over the next several weeks…
‘The fact that it’s Russia doesn’t help matters either!’
Lionel, a media and legal analyst, suggests there should be individual testing of athletes.
“I don’t understand why it is impossible in this day and age to individually test Olympians, Paralympians, or athletes. I don’t understand why there has to be this blanket prohibition and penalty against an entire team based upon allegations,”he told RT.
“What I also don’t understand is that if we’re really looking at the integrity of the Olympics in general, why don’t we look at the notion of allegations of bribery that is also in all of the news? But that is a little bit different,” he added.
“When we talk about Paralympians, I don’t want to be patronizing; I don’t want to say ‘these poor people, we should treat them differently,’ because they are proving by virtue of the competition that they are just as good as all the athletes. But as someone said: their ability to compete and their shelf life because of inability and the limitations on competing are so limited and so great that I think there should be an extra consideration given,” Lionel said.
He added that he finds it “fascinating” that out of a whole “panoply”of issues- including alleged bribery and others – it’s mainly the doping scandal that is in the spotlight.
“I am reading nothing but reports about open sewage and the worst possible conditions for certain Olympians and that seems to be not that important as bribery and other [issues]. Why this – out of the panoply of issues that we can be concerned with, why this?” he aksed.
“And may I add: the fact that it is Russia doesn’t help matters either! There seems to be a Russia factor.”
The legal analyst argues that everyone who is accused of violating any rules should be given due justice. “You should be given…the ability to be heard… to confront your accusers; to be able to say: ‘Ok, if I was alleged to violate this rule, what was the testing that was performed? May I see the results? May I submit this to my own experts? Can you validate that your testing was correct? Is this up to par? May I have a sample myself so that I can test it?’
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