Russian President Vladimir Putin says the International Paralympic Committee is humiliating itself by barring the Russian Paralympic team from the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil next month.
Speaking at a ceremony of presenting state awards to Russian medal winners of the Rio Olympics at the Alexander Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the Putin stated “the decision to suspend our Paralympians is beyond all boundaries of legal norms, moral principles and humanity.”
“I feel sorry for those, who make such decisions as they cannot but understand that they are humiliating themselves,” Putin said. “This is simply cynical to work frustration off on those, who see sport as their sense to live, those, who inspire with hope and belief millions of people with limited physical abilities.”
Besides the law, Putin insisted, all people with common sense are on the Russian side regarding this issue. He also stressed that the anti-doping commissions’ activity should be transparent.
“Everyone must know, who is tested, where is testing taking place, what methods were used for testing, what were the results and what measures followed,” he said, adding that only under such conditions the international society would be trusting such tests. Putin also said that Russia would continue its work on the improvement of its national anti-doping structures.
“We will be doing it in a transparent manner and with the involvement of international experts,” he said. “However, we will never accept any accusation regarding our athletes, if such accusations were not sustained by facts and proof, and will on the contrary deem them as attempted manipulation.”
At the Kremlin awards ceremony nine athletes were awarded the Order of Honor, while 37 others received the Order of Friendship. According to a Russian government decree, the winners of the 2016 Olympics will receive 4 million Rubles ($61,000) each in addition to luxury BMW cars.
Addressing the athletes, Putin said: “To our great regret we have been witnesses to humanistic basics of sports and Olympism being blatantly suppressed by politicians, to timeserving decisions being made, to such qualities as greed and, possibly, cowardice, gain an upper hand over the principles of Olympism.
Recalling the “hard times” Russian athletes experience in Rio, he stated: “Dear friends, you have coped with all problems and performed as a united team. You’ve proven that victories are achieved not only by quality, although in this particular case the number of athletes was important, but also by skill and competence, and this is no less, possibly even more important.”
Putin also announced that Russia would hold special competitions for Paralympians and the prizes would be equal to those at the Olympic Games.
“I want to tell our Paralympians: of course, we will support you and will organize the competitions especially for you where you will be able to show your skill,” Putin said. “The prize for the winners will be the same as it would be after the Olympic Games. We will consider in detail the outcome of Rio de Janeiro and our plans for the future at the next meeting of the council for sport.”
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.