MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin attacked the ban on his country from the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics as immoral and inhumane on Thursday.
Russia was suspended on Aug. 7 over what International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven called a “medals over morals” culture with evidence of state-sponsored doping. The ban was confirmed Tuesday when the Court of Arbitration of Sport rejected a Russian appeal.
“The decision to disqualify our Paralympians is outside the bounds of law, morality and humanity,” Putin said at an award ceremony for Olympic athletes at the Kremlin. He called the ruling against Russia “cynical” and claimed that “it even humiliates those who take such decisions.”
The Paralympics start Sept. 7.
Special competitions will be organized in Russia for banned Paralympic athletes with winners getting the same prizes they would have had from success in Rio, Putin said. The Russian government awards cash prizes to Olympic and Paralympic medalists.
Putin also attacked what he said was political manipulation of sport directed against Russia, whose team was reduced to a single athlete in track and field and banned entirely from weightlifting at the Olympics. That came after World Anti-Doping Agency investigations detailed widespread doping and evidence that senior sports ministry officials allegedly covered up hundreds of doping cases.
“You came through a tough test with honor,” Putin told a room full of Olympic gold medalists. “We know how difficult it was for our athletes in Rio. Ahead of the competition, the team was cut by almost a third, and was deprived of the chance to show what it can do in sports where Russia is traditionally considered one of the favorites. But our team, you, my friends, coped with all the difficulties, competed as a united team.”
Russia was fourth in the medal count with 56 medals, 19 of them gold.