The International Paralympics Committee has imposed a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing in the Rio Paralympic Games. IPC president Sir Philip Craven said the Russian system was so “broken, corrupted and entirely compromised” that it must face the ultimate sanction. That is just so wrong.
The decision affects about 267 Russian athletes across 18 sports. Far from demonstrating a determination to clamp down on drugs, it further damages the credibility of the IPC and the IOC. Not only does it send a worrying message about the rights of disabled people, but it also threatens to undermine the Olympic ideal. Although athletes compete at the Games under their country’s flag, an indiscriminate ban is a blunt instrument that distorts the vision of gathering the best athletes in the world to compete against one another in pursuit of excellence (Faster, Higher, Stronger).
A Russian sports ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, described the sanction as inhumane. “The decision to bar the entire Russian Paralympic team from the Paralympic Games is strikingly filthy and inhumane,” she wrote on social media. “It is a betrayal of those high human rights standards the modern world is resting on.”
Egregious as the sins of the Russian sports ministry have been, no individual athlete should be made to answer for them if he or she is clean.