FEI ‘very disappointed’ Russian para dressage riders banned from Rio Paralympics

  • FEI president Ingmar De Vos has voiced his disappointment at the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) decision to bar all Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympics.

    On Sunday (7 August) the IPC’s governing board suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee in the wake of the McLaren Report that exposed state-sponsored doping.

    Although no Russian riders were implicated in the report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the suspension means no Russian athletes can be entered to compete in September’s Games.

    Russia had three para dressage riders on its nominated entries – Natalia Martyanova, Natalya Zhavoronkova and Marina Vinogradova.

    Natalia is Russia’s highest-ranked para dressage rider, currently 15th on the FEI Paralympic individual rankings and 23rd in the world.

    “We are very disappointed with today’s IPC decision,” said Mr De Vos on Sunday (7 August).

    “Like our Paralympic athletes from all other countries, our three Russian athletes have trained hard to make it to the Paralympic Games and we are troubled that today’s announcement means they cannot participate in Rio.

    “Just as for the Olympic Games, we believe the individual international federations should be given the opportunity to defend the rights of their clean athletes.

    “Today’s IPC decision does not give us that opportunity. We will not embark on any reallocation process until the appeal period has expired and any potential procedures have concluded.”

    The McLaren report, which was released on 18 July, found wide-scale state-sponsored doping in Russian sport.

    Although it focused on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, it also looked at the wider picture of what was happening across other sports and samples taken and tested at the Moscow Laboratory.

    The International Olympic Committee ruled against a total ban of Russian athletes at the 2016 Olympics, instead leaving the decision to individual sporting federations — providing athletes met strict criteria.

    Meanwhile, WADA and the British Paralympic Association have both welcomed the IPC’s decision.

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    “While we have real sympathy for those individual Russian Paralympians not going to Rio who train and compete clean, it is crucial for the integrity of our sport that those involved as well as the public feel confident that all necessary measures are in place to tackle doping and the playing field is level,” said a statement from the British Paralympic Associaiton.

    “The British Paralympic Association therefore congratulates the IPC on taking a clear stand based on the evidence provided to the McClaren report and their own subsequent investigation.”

    A WADA spokesman added: “WADA supports the decision taken by the IPC, which we believe is in the interest of clean athletes and the clean sport movement.”

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