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Russia wants political neutrality in sports on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council

via Wikicommons

On Wednesday, Sep. 28, Russian parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, proposed to put political neutrality in sports on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council.

The news was revealed by Russian state-sponsored outlet Sputnik.

According to the report, which included a draft statement of the proposal, Russian lawmakers attempted to draw attention to what they consider to be political bias during the handling of Russia’s involvement in the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

“The Federation Council deems it important to draw attention of foreign legislators to violations of athletes’ rights occurring in the Olympic and Paralympic movements in a bid to discuss the situation in inter-Parliamentary organizations.”

Following a doping scandal that allegedly involved a Russian state-sponsored doping program spanning multiple Olympic Games, international media and federations condemned Russia’s potential involvement in the Games.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) eventually forfeited a blanket ban on Russian athletes to allow individual sports federations to decide on the matter.

However, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven based the decision to suspend the Russian team on the same damning World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that his colleagues at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had studied. Yet while the IOC allowed Russia to compete at Rio 2016, the IPC appeared to take an entirely different decision with the exact same evidence from Richard McLaren’s landmark report.

The IPC concluded in their own investigations that 27 samples relating to eight Paralympic sports had been tampered with. Some samples appeared to have been swapped during the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi. Those 27 samples were the basis for the IPC’s decision to ban an entire nation from a quadrennial event.

Russian lawmakers claimed the IPC’s actions set a “dangerous precedent” for intergovernmental relations through sports.

“We should strongly condemn and stop the practice of exerting pressure on sport organization by government agencies, politicians and media,” the draft statement added.

The Federation Council’s comments are equally hypocritical given the varying degrees of political involvement in Russian sports, depending on the specific sport. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently issued a decree to thank a host of politicians and oligarchs for their role played in the development of national hockey. Russian football is also heavily influenced by politicians, as the Minister of Sports, Vitaly Mutko, serves as the head of the Russian Football Federation as well. Mixed Martial Arts is also influenced by politicians, as Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov owns and funds Akhmat MMA.

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