“The Russian team is as clean as any other”
For the first time since 2012, the Russian team will take part in the Paralympic Games under its own flag. According to the president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Andrew Parsons, there are no barriers to this, and the cleanliness of Russian athletes does not cause any doubts in the organization. He noted that he was pleased with the work of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RCC), which did tremendous work to restore its reputation after the doping scandal that erupted in 2016.
“Russia will perform in 2020. The participation of the team is of great importance not only for the country itself, but also for the entire Paralympic movement. Yes, we had difficulties, she was in a special status, but the intense joint work ultimately allowed in the winter to decide on the conditional removal of disqualification. RCC is currently implementing an advanced, effective anti-doping policy. Good thing that happened. In Tokyo, we are waiting for a very strong team, which now has a new generation of strong athletes, and we will follow their performance with interest, ”Parsons said in an interview with TASS.
He added that for three years, the Russian athletes will be riveted special attention from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, this is necessary in order for the conditional status of the country to be replaced by a full one at the end of the allotted time.
In turn, PKR President Vladimir Lukin responded positively to Parsons' statement. In his opinion, it once again confirms that the opinion of the international community regarding Russia has changed for the better.
“If the IPC is satisfied with our work, then we are doing everything efficiently. Because before we were only criticized, but now they praise us. Of course, we continue to work hard to resolve many issues related to the participation of our team in the Paralympics in Tokyo, while not forgetting the team that will travel to Beijing in 2022, ”Lukin said in a conversation with RT.
The head coach of the Paralympic fencing team, Elena Belkina, noted the significance of the statement of the head of the IPC.
“It is very important for us that this was officially announced. Of course, we have known this for a long time, but it is nice that the whole country will know about it, because very many sincerely worry about us. We went a long way to create anti-doping agencies, and now our athletes and coaches have become the most enlightened in this matter, despite the fact that initially the situation was extremely dramatic, ”Belkina said.
At the moment, data is being verified by the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory. Parsons said that, according to preliminary data, several Russians whose names are not named fell under suspicion of using illegal drugs. However, he stressed that these cases will not affect the relationship with RCC.
“For the IPC, the Russian team is as clean as any other. Of course, unfortunately, in Russia, as in any other country, separate cases may arise in the future, but at the moment, if we are talking about anti-doping work, the situation here is very good. Our working group involved in the RCC process believes that the country is among the best in terms of anti-doping policy, ”the functionary concluded.
According to Lukin, at the moment RCC is not aware of suspected anti-doping rule violators. However, he assured that one should not be afraid of the reputation of the country and the department.
“Theoretically, I admit that this is possible. Doping is an ailment that is extremely difficult to eradicate. Previously, we were accused of the fact that we have almost a state system, but this question has disappeared by itself. It is possible that some athletes, coaches or doctors will still be tempted to break the rules. However, this must be taken professionally and severely to punish those who despise our labors. But this will primarily affect the fate of the violators themselves, and not our participation in international competitions, ”added the functionary.
RCC was deprived of IPC membership in August 2016 after the publication of Richard McLaren's report on the alleged systematic use of doping in Russia. Domestic athletes were suspended from participating in the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
In December 2017, the disqualification was extended due to the failure to fulfill a number of criteria, however, the Russians got the right to play in neutral status at the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. On February 8, 2019, it was decided to conditionally restore the RCC in rights.
“In early September we are going to Sakhalin”
A little over a year remains before the start of the competition in Tokyo, and the Russian team continues to actively prepare for its first Paralympic Summer Games in eight years. It is expected that about 300 Russian athletes will take part in them, who will compete for medals in almost every of the 22 disciplines, and the entire delegation will consist of about 500 people.
The PKR delegation led by Lukin met with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, where they discussed a number of issues, including the preparation of the national team for the competition and the training camp in Japan.
“The accessibility of adaptive sports facilities and the location is important to us. It is necessary to know in advance about the climatic conditions of those places where outdoor competitions will be held, for example, athletics and game sports. All financial conditions should be shifted to paper. You also need to have sparring partners, ”Pavel Rozhkov, First Vice President of the RCC, summed up the meeting.
According to Lukin, preparations for the upcoming starts are going according to plan, a number of measures have already been outlined aimed at working effectively with athletes.
“In early September, we will fly to Sakhalin, where the RCC executive committee will be held. The place was chosen taking into account the fact that both the summer and winter Paralympics will be held in the Far East, and our team in the last stages will prepare in these regions. As for the fees in Japan, it is likely that they will be held there, however, a number of issues still have to be resolved. We were informed that some municipalities provide funds and resources for inviting athletes from different countries. In particular, Niigata was mentioned, which traditionally has ties with Russia, ”said the head of the organization.
The fencing team is also preparing for competitions in Tokyo.
“Everything is standard with us: first the world cups, which are qualifying competitions, then the championship of the planet. Everyone is in good shape and enjoy fencing, ”Belkina added.