PyeongChang welcomes IPC's decision on Russian para athletes

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"The IPC has shown great leadership and determination to protect clean Paralympic athletes around the world and the integrity of the Paralympic Games".

The International Paralympic Committee has banned Russia's team from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, but will allow individual athletes to compete under a neutral flag.

Ma Yu-chol and Kim Jong-hyon - recently completed their registration to the IPC to make their debut at the upcoming Winter Paralympics.

"We believe that with the criteria we have, and the fact that the landscape has changed when it comes to anti-doping in Russian Federation, we can confidently say the NPA team will be as clean as any other athlete".

The IPC's president, Andrew Parsons, told a news conference in Bonn, Germany, that its board had voted to keep Russia's national Paralympic committee suspended, meaning that Russian Federation is excluded from taking part in the games in the South Korean town of Pyeongchang this March.

"If we take into account that our Paralympians could have been banned from the event, this is a victory", he said.

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Critically, however, he also praised "solid progress" within Russian Federation with respect to antidoping education and drug testing - progress that had inspired confidence in the organization's ability to distinguish between clean athletes and tainted ones, he said. Russian Federation was suspended by the IPC in August 2016 following revelations of widespread state-sponsored doping uncovered in a report by Richard McLaren on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). "But it is also criteria set by WADA", he added. "It's an operational matter that will be dealt with the organising committee".

So far, 169 Russian athletes have been invited by the International Olympic Committee to compete at Pyeongchang 2018.

"In making this decision therefore, the IPC has done everything within its power to give clean Russian athletes the opportunity to qualify for Pyeongchang 2018". Since then, there has been enough improvement to justify allowing Russians to compete as neutral athletes after extra drug testing, Parsons said.

"Our taskforce will work with the neutral delegates to ensure that the competing athletes at both Games receive the same support as all other athletes to ensure they have the best Games experience possible".

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency says the IPC has chose to allow 2 male North Korean Nordic skiers to compete in the Games.

"We are working closely with WADA, along with other relevant organisations and authorities, to ensure that all necessary steps are taken around anti-doping and fair play".