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    Casey Followay, left, Stephen Binning, center, and Arturo Torres, right, race in their heat in the men's 100-meter dash during the U.S. Paralympics Team Trials in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, July 1, 2016.

    French Flag Bearer Deplores Sidelining Clean Russian Paralympians

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    Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has described the decision to ban Russian paralympians from the Rio Olympics as a “cynical move aimed at sidelining strong competitors.” Sputnik discussed the situation with French tennis player Michaël Jeremiasz who will carry the French flag during the Games’ opening on September 7.

    “I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I welcome the Paralympic Committee’s and the IOC’s decision to condemn the organized cheating mentioned in McLaren’s report, but as an athlete I know that there are many of my colleagues who have never used drugs, those who made so many sacrifices for so many years and do not deserve this,” Michaël said.

    He added that he didn’t recognize the principle of collective responsibility and that he sympathized with those who had been unjustly punished.

    “The problem of doping and cheating exists in too many countries and this makes me very sad. There is a Russian tennis player whom I’ve known for quite some time now. I’m not 100 percent sure that she is not doping, but you can never be 100 percent sure that any of us athletes are 100 percent clean. Unless proven otherwise, she plays well and she is not a champion yet,” Michaël Jeremiasz emphasized.

    ”I understand their feelings. If I were in their shoes I would do my best to stand up for my rights and fight on,” he added.

    On Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected the Russian Paralympic Committee’s (RPC) appeal against its ban from the upcoming Rio Olympics.

    Also on Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights said it was ready to consider the Russian paralympians’ case should they file one.

    A doping scandal, simmering since 2014, escalated in July when an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission presented a report accusing Russia of running a state-wide doping program and urging the IOC to consider a blanket ban on the entire Russian team.

    The WADA McLaren report claimed that 35 of the so-called disappeared positive test results were allegedly in Paralympic sports.

    On August 4, the IOC announced that 271 Russian athletes would participate in the Rio Games, meaning that only 70 percent of the country's original team would compete following a doping scandal that had dominated the walkup to the Games.

    The International Olympic Committee announced its decision just about 24 hours before the Games’ opening ceremony.

    Overall, more than 100 Russians were excluded, including 67 in track and field. The IOC rule barring Russian athletes with prior doping sanctions from taking part the Games was rejected as "unenforceable" by a sports arbitration panel.

    The IOC also dismissed calls to ban Russia's entire team following a report by a WADA investigator about alleged state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.


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