Russian followers banned from waving flags at PyeongChang Paralympics

Russian followers banned from waving flags at PyeongChang Paralympics

The International Paralympic Committee has banned Russia's team from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, but will allow individual athletes to compete under a neutral flag. The country was first excluded from the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in 2016 over allegations of a state-sponsored doping.

Each Russian Paralympian who is approved to compete, he said, will be identified in competition as a "Neutral Paralympic Athlete".

The Russian Paralympic Committe has not met all of the necessary requirements to have its suspension lifted, including the full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the IPC said in a statement.

It will be the second Paralympics without a Russian team.

The IPC said qualified Russians will participate under the name "Neutral Paralympic Athlete" (NPA) in five sports - alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, snowboard and wheelchair.

The Paralympic Committee also took a tougher line during the Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, banning Russia entirely from the games, while the IOC permitted the worldwide federations of individuals to choose which athletes to let in.

IPC president Andrew Parsons said that in 2016 "the anti-doping system in Russian Federation was found to be totally compromised, corrupted and open to abuse".

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Some Russian athletes however will still be allowed to take part as neutrals in certain sports, provided they are able to meet certain conditions.

Critically, however, he also praised "solid progress" within Russian Federation with respect to antidoping education and drug testing - progress that had inspired confidence in the organization's ability to distinguish between clean athletes and tainted ones, he said. "We have also witnessed behavioral and cultural changes".

Parsons told RT that the rule doesn't relate exclusively to Russian Federation.

"However, we agree with the IPC's assertion that further advances are still needed to ensure the Russian Paralympic Committee fully comply with both the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code".

Russians had been allowed to compete as neutral athletes in some qualifying events ahead of the games before a final decision, but that came too late for Russia to qualify in hockey. The IPC also requires the Russian anti-doping agency to be fully reinstated by WADA, which is also demanding Russia accepts the investigations' findings.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied ever supporting any doping programs.

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