Russian followers banned from waving flags at PyeongChang Paralympics

We are providing a 'level playing field' - IPC President

The International Paralympic Committee, or IPC, says North Korean Nordic skiers will likely take part in the upcoming Winter Paralympic Games in South Korea as wild card athletes.

The report, which was published in July 2016, claimed Russian Federation operated a state-sponsored doping programme across both the summer and winter Olympic Games.

On Monday, the IPC announced that it was maintaining the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) "after receiving an update from the IPC Taskforce responsible for monitoring the RPC's progress in meeting the reinstatement criteria".

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However, "in recognition of the progress made by the RPC in improving its anti-doping activities", the IPC is allowing individual Russian athletes who meet certain conditions to compete in five sports as neutral athletes at the games, which run from March 8-18.

"We accept and respect the decision of the IPC regarding the ruling that Russian athletes may compete under a neutral flag".

The IOC has said Russian athletes could march under their own flag at the Closing Ceremony if they adhere to the criteria required for the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee to be lifted. The country was also excluded from the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in 2016.

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The IPC said there is now a "different picture" in Russian Federation, compared to 2016 when the country's anti-doping system was found to be "totally compromised, corrupted and open to abuse". Russian Para athletes were now regularly tested and "amongst the most scrutinised Para athletes in the world", he said.

The 169 Russian athletes allowed to compete in the Winter Olympics is around half what the Russian Olympic Committee had hoped to send. Under the sport rules for Para ice hockey, a Neutral Paralympic Athlete (NPA) team could not be considered as Russian Federation had missed the opportunity to qualify. We have also witnessed behavioral and cultural changes by the RPC, which we hope will one day positively influence officials within the wider Russian Federation.

Russians had been allowed to compete as neutral athletes in some qualifying events ahead of the games before a final decision, but that came too late for Russia to qualify in hockey. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has not been reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency and an "official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings" of the McLaren Reports has not been presented.

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"Under the supervision of WADA, we now have greater confidence that the anti-doping system in Russian Federation is no longer compromised or corrupted".

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