Russia doping: IPC issues final warning for Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics

Sir Philip Craven
IPC president Sir Philip Craven says his organisation will do all it can do enable Russia to compete in South Korea

Russia has been given a final warning to address doping or face a total ban from the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang.

The country was blocked from the 2016 Rio Paralympics by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) after revelations of systematic doping.

The IPC said on Monday there was a "strong chance" the ban would remain if there was no improvement by September.

The Paralympics begin in South Korea on 8 March, 2018.

"Russia has to restore confidence in the wider sporting world," IPC president Sir Philip Craven said.

Craven added that the governing board were "pleased and encouraged" by Russia's co-operation, and that the body would do all it could to ensure Russia's suspension ended when the reinstatement criteria was met.

"Russia is a great sporting nation and the Paralympic Movement would like to see Russia back competing as soon as it can prove it has met the reinstatement criteria in full," he said.

"Our mindset currently is on doing all we can to have the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) at Pyeongchang 2018."

What is the latest?

The IPC taskforce had previously unanimously recommended the suspension, imposed in August 2016, stays in place.

A taskforce report expressed its concern at Russia's lack of action ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Russia was suspended after World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren detailed widespread drug use, and cover-ups allegedly involving government officials.

However, officials have not "specifically addressed'' McLaren's findings, either by accepting them or "properly rebutting'' them, according to the report from the IPC taskforce, which has been working with the RPC.

Craven said on Monday that a number of key criteria still needed to be met.

"At the moment there are a lot of good plans with timelines on paper, but we now need to see plans in action and delivering concrete results," he said.

Has there been any progress?

Taskforce chairman Andy Parkinson, the chief executive of British Rowing, has reported "various positive developments", including Russia trying to set up an effective short-term testing programme.

However, athletics' world governing body, the IAAF, earlier this year voted to extend Russia's suspension from international competition, which saw many track and field athletes miss the Rio Olympic Games.

Parkinson said that until there was an official response specifically addressing the findings made by the McLaren report, the ban should remain in place.

"Unless and until these problems are fully addressed, the Taskforce is of the view that there can be no meaningful change in culture," he added on Monday.

"It would be almost impossible for Russian Para athletes to return to IPC-sanctioned competitions without jeopardising the integrity of those competitions."

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