For Immediate Release: August 24, 2016
(Indianapolis)- The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) voiced its support of yesterday’s decision by The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to dismiss an appeal by the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) against its suspension by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The IPC announced the suspension on August 7 and entirely banned Russian athletes from the Rio Paralympic Games due to systematic and extensive infractions of anti-doping codes by the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC). At the time of the announcement, ACSM’s executive leadership supported the IPC decision, calling it “bold and the strictest penalty available.”
“While we fully agree with the CAS decision, we also feel deep sorrow for those athletes who followed the rules and worked so hard to prepare for the Paralympics, only to see their dreams end,” said Elizabeth Joy, MD, president of the American College of Sports Medicine. “However, ACSM is unwavering in its commitment to athlete health and safety, while ensuring the integrity of sports competition. We will support any governing body that makes these attributes a priority.”
The IPC suspended the RPC due to its inability to fulfill its membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular for noncompliance with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code. The RPC appealed the decision to CAS, which did not find enough compelling evidence for a reversal.
“While difficult, these recent decisions by the IPC and CAS are encouraging because they demonstrate persistent vigilance in protecting athletes and fair competition,” continued Joy. “We look forward to celebrating excellence and achievement of the Paralympic athletes at the Rio Paralympic Games. It will be a beautiful picture of what can be accomplished honestly and fairly in one of the most honored and cherished competitions of all.”
The ACSM executive leadership also expressed its confidence that these decisions signal a future that will include the RPC in the Paralympic Games, along with hope that IPC membership will be fully restored at some point and Russian athletes will compete again soon.