Russia loses appeal against Paralympics ban

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Court of Arbitration for Sport dismisses Russian Paralympic Committee appeal

ZURICH, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Russia has lost its appeal against its ban from next month's Rio Paralympics because of a state-sponsored doping program, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Tuesday.

The decision to exclude Russia's team, initially made on Aug. 7 by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), means at least 250 competitors from the country are now set to miss the Sept. 7-18 event.

The IPC went further than the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which stopped short of a blanket ban on Russia at this month's Rio Games and left the decision instead in the hands of international sports federations.

CAS, sport's highest tribunal, said its panel found the IPC "did not violate any procedural rule in dealing with the disciplinary process" which led to Russia's suspension.

It added the ruling was "proportionate in the circumstances" and that the Russian Paralympic Committee "did not file any evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was based."

According to the TASS news agency, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called the CAS decision unlawful and politically motivated.

The whole dispute centers on a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that found the Russian government and the FSB security service had, over years, covered up hundreds of doping cases across the majority of Olympic sports and Paralympic events.

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Inside a Russian anti-doping lab
Technicians Ilya Podolsky and Natalia Bochkaryova work at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
A technician holds a test tube with a blood sample at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technician Natalia Bochkaryova works at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Folders reading "Cycling", "Wrestling", "Swimming", "Weightlifting", "Triathlon", "Water Polo", are seen behind an employee at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
A technician enters the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
An employee works at the reception of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technician Natalia Bochkaryova works at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technicians work at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technician Natalia Bochkaryova works at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
A technician works at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technicians Ilya Podolsky and Natalia Bochkaryova work at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
A technician works at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technicians work at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technician Ilya Podolsky works at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
A technician exits the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technician Natalia Bochkaryova works at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Acting head of Russian anti-doping laboratory Marina Dikunets attends an interview in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Technicians Ilya Podolsky and Natalia Bochkaryova work at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Bottles used for the collection of urine samples in doping tests, are seen at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
The logo of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is seen outside its headquarters in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Director General Anna Antseliovich attends an interview in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Director General Anna Antseliovich attends an interview in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Director General Anna Antseliovich is seen at the RUSADA headquarters in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
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STRONG TEAM

Russia previously said the IPC's decision was politically motivated and would punish dozens of innocent athletes.

Although not widely followed or celebrated in Russia, where rights campaigners say many disabled people are marginalized by regressive social attitudes and inadequate state support, Russian para-athletes are some of the best in the world.

Their team topped the medal table at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in the Russian city of Sochi after taking second place behind China at London 2012.

The country's exclusion from Rio will hit hard in a country that has long drawn pride and prestige from its history of sporting success.

Following Tuesday's verdict, the IPC said Russia had been banned for its inability to fulfill its membership "responsibilities and obligations," particularly the anti-doping code.

"Although we are pleased with the decision, it is not a day for celebration and we have enormous sympathy for the Russian athletes who will now miss out on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games," said IPC president Philip Craven in a statement.

"It is a sad day for the Paralympic Movement but we hope also a new beginning," he said, adding that he wanted the ruling to be a "catalyst for change" in Russia. (Additional reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Alison Williams)

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