Having failed in their effort to get Team Russia excluded from the Olympic Games in Rio, the organisers of the campaign must content themselves with the consolation prize of the just announced decision of the International Paralympic Committee to exclude Russia from the far less important Paralympic Games.
Some will no doubt take exception to my description of the “Paralympic Games” as far less important than the Olympic Games. That is not intended as any sort of slur on Paralympians. The simple fact is however that the Paralympic Games get far less global attention and attract far less commercial sponsorship than the Olympic Games do. To be frank I doubt that most people have even heard of them.
It should be said that the Paralympic Games are in no sense a part of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic movement is not part of the Olympic movement.
That Russia would be banned from the Paralympic Games was all but inevitable given the extremely hostile attitude to Russian sports and to sports administrators of its President Sir Philip Craven. In this he of course is merely following the extremely hostile attitude to Russian sports and sports administrators that is well nigh universal in the English speaking world, and which has become all too obvious in the English speaking media’s coverage of the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal. Speaking for myself I was sure this decision would be taken when Professor McLaren revealed in his interviews with The Australian and The Guardian that he and the International Paralympic Committee were in close contact with each other.
Whilst the Russians will be furious with this decision, I doubt they are surprised. To be clear, they would have been far more upset and far more angry if they had been excluded from the actual Olympic Games. That that did not happen will have been for them a cause of huge relief, which this decision by the International Paralympic Committee will not detract from. Though one must again be sorry for individual Russian Paralympic athletes against whom there is no evidence of wrongdoing and who are being banned from the Paralympic Games for no good reason, I suspect that amongst Russian political leaders and officials, once their initial anger has died down, this latest ban will be taken with a shrug.
I would finally say that the decision of the International Paralympic Committee actually makes even less sense than a collective ban by the International Olympic Committee on Team Russia’s participation in the Olympic Games would have done, given that the overwhelming weight of the two WADA reports of Pound and McLaren concerns alleged doping abuse on the part of ordinary Russian athletes as opposed to Russian Paralympic athletes. However we are well past the point in this scandal where mere matters of fact like that are of any concern to some people.