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Russia to Take Paralympics Ban to Higher Court

  • Reuters

FILE - Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, right, speaks as Russian President Vladimir Putin, standing background center, listens to him during an awards ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow, March 24, 2014.

FILE - Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, right, speaks as Russian President Vladimir Putin, standing background center, listens to him during an awards ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow, March 24, 2014.

Russia on Monday will appeal the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to uphold a blanket ban on its athletes from competing in next month's Rio Paralympics.

Russian Paralympic Committee President Vladimir Lukin announced Friday that the appeal would go before the Swiss Federal Court, according to the Interfax news agency.

Earlier this week, the Lausanne-based CAS, sport's highest tribunal, rejected an RPC appeal against the suspension, which was handed out by the International Paralympic Committee because of a state-sponsored sports doping program.

The Federal Court can only overturn the CAS ruling on the basis of a procedural mistake, not on the merits of the case.

The decision to exclude Russia's team means at least 260 competitors from the country are now set to miss the September 7-18 Paralympics.

The IPC went further than the International Olympic Committee, which stopped short of a blanket ban on Russia at the Rio Olympics that ended on Sunday and left the decision instead in the hands of international sports federations.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Paralympic ban cynical and immoral but also said Moscow acknowledged mistakes it had made in tackling sports doping.

The country's track and field team was also excluded from the Olympics because of the sports doping program.

Ban is 'outside morality'

Putin said the decision to bar Russian athletes, including those who had not tested positive for any banned substances, was a vivid manifestation "of how the humanistic foundations of sport and Olympism are shamelessly flouted by politics."

"The decision to disqualify our Paralympic team is outside the law, outside morality and outside humanity," he added. "It is simply cynical to vent one's anger on those for whom sport has become the meaning of their life. ... I even feel pity for those taking such decisions, because they must well understand that it is so demeaning for them."

The dispute centers on a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that found the Russian government and the FSB security service had, over years, covered up hundreds of doping cases across the majority of Olympic sports and Paralympic events.

Although not widely followed or celebrated in Russia, where rights campaigners say many disabled people are marginalized by regressive social attitudes and inadequate state support, the country's para-athletes are some of the best in the world.

Their team topped the medal table at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in the Russian city of Sochi after taking second place behind China at the London Games in 2012.

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