Rio 2016 Paralympics: IPC risks 'killing' Russian Para-sport with blanket ban

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Russian para-athletes banned after doping scandal

The International Paralympic Committee's decision to ban Russia from the Rio 2016 Paralympics will "kill" disability sport in the country, says a Russian Para-athlete.

Russia was banned from all IPC events last week after evidence showed that anti-doping samples from Paralympic athletes had been compromised.

"This decision was like killing Russian sport," said Akzhana Abdikarimova.

Russia's National Paralympic Committee has until 28 August to appeal.

Abdikarimova, 33, is a member of the Russian Paralympic track and field team who are currently in Thailand together on a training camp, and she says the group remain hopeful of the decision being reversed if an appeal is made to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

"When our coach told us the decision at training, some were shocked and some were angry and we were all disappointed. But our mood is good because we believe we can change something in this situation," said Abdikarimova, a T53 silver medallist from the 2016 European IPC Athletics Championships.

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Russia Paralympic team ban is 'beyond common sense'

"It is our human right to compete. We believe the decision will be changed because it is ridiculous. This is a disaster for many athletes who are training hard for Rio and I don't think a majority should take responsibility for someone else."

The IPC made its decision on Russia's ban after the governing body received additional information from Professor Richard McLaren, who published a report revealing evidence of a widespread state-sponsored doping within Russian sport, particularly at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Abdikarimova and many of her track team-mates were also part of the Russian cross-country skiing and biathlon teams in Sochi but she says they are unaware of such a system.

The Russian Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics team
Russia won 80 medals, including 30 gold, at the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics - the most in a single Winter Paralympics

"I know in the team I train with now, we don't take any meds because our team is for the fair competition of the sport," said Abdikarimova.

"Most of us were in Sochi together but we don't know what's going on with the report from McLaren. We have not seen it and we don't know who will be named.

"We were the heroes of the Sochi Games and if some programme existed, we should know something about it or have heard something and we didn't."

Abdikarimova believes the evidence shows clear wrongdoing but says it is the individual cheats that should be banned from the Rio Paralympics, which begin on 7 September.

"When the decision was made, it was like someone shooting my back. This is a cruel decision," she said.

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