Alexander Demianchuk / Reuters
All Russian athletes have been banned from the Paralympics over doping concerns, the president of the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) Sir Philip Craven has announced.
The ban is a result of the findings in a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report by Professor Richard McLaren into a state-sponsored doping scandal.
The IPC's governing board was said to have reached a unanimous decision on the ban.
Craven said that the “decision has placed a huge burden upon all our shoulders, but it’s a decision we’ve had to take in the best interests of the Paralympic movement.”
The Russian Paralympic Committee is currently unable to ensure compliance with, and the enforcement of, the IPC's anti-doping code and the world's anti-doping code within its own jurisdiction, Craven said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro.
“Therefore it cannot fulfil its fundamental obligations as an IPC member, and as a result, the IPC governing board has resolved to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee with immediate effect,” he added.
Craven said that the report marked “one of the darkest days in the history of all
sport,” and described Russia's anti-doping system as “broken, corrupted, and entirely compromised”.
Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics.
Alexei Nikolsky / AP
“[The] Russian government has catastrophically failed their athletes. The medals over morals attitude disgusts me,” he said.
Craven placed blame on the Russian government rather than those taking part in the Games.
“Tragically this situation is not about athletes cheating a system, but about a state-run system that is cheating the athletes,” he said. “The doping culture that is polluting Russian sport stems from the Russian government and has now been uncovered in not one, but two independent reports commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared earlier this month that 271 Russian athletes would be eligible to compete in Rio, despite WADA calling for a blanket ban. Instead the IOC decided to consider Russia's athletes on a case-by-case basis, which resulted in the banning of 111 athletes.
The IOC now faces criticism for not taking the bold step of its Paralympic counterpart.
The confirmation of the IPC's decision to issue an overall ban comes after The Observer reported on Saturday that an outright exclusion of Russian Paralympic athletes from the games was expected.
The Russian Paralympic Committee now has 21 days, until 28 August, to appeal the decision.
The Paralympics are due to take place in Rio next month.