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Russia could miss 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, says IPC chief

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Sir Philip Craven

The president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) says Russian athletes could remain banned for the twelfth edition of Paralympic Winter Games, which are scheduled to be held between March 9 and 18 next year in South Korea.

 “I don't know and I don't think many people do,” Sir Philip Craven told BBC Sport in comments published on Tuesday.

He added, “I'm not looking for someone to say sorry, but let's get it fixed.”

On August 7, 2016, the IPC banned the entire Russian sports delegation from competing in the fifteenth edition of Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, saying the measure was in response to the country’s “state-sponsored” doping mechanisms.

“With the full facts to hand, we were deeply saddened to find that the state-sponsored doping that exists in Russian sport regrettably extends to Russian Para sport as well,” said Craven at the time, adding, “Tragically this situation is not about athletes cheating a system but about a state-run system that is cheating athletes."

Russian sportspeople were banned from all Paralympic competitions following the publication of the results of a probe by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren on July 18 last year.

The second McLaren report, released in early December, discovered that more than 1,000 Russians, including Olympic medalists, had benefited from a state-sponsored doping program between 2011 and 2015, including London 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Russians grabbed 72 medals at the London Games, 21 of which were gold. They collected 33 medals at Sochi, 13 of which were gold.

Craven also told BBC Sport that Russian athletes will not participate in this week's IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships, hoping that Russian sports authorities would take action in time for athletes to be eligible for the final qualification phase of the 2018 Winter Paralympics in the northeastern South Korean city of Pyeongchang. 

“Russia is a great sporting nation and without them being here they are missed in a sporting sense,” he said.

“But we can't have nations competing when their performances have been tarnished by what's gone on before,” the IPC chief noted.

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