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Russia still banned from Winter Paralympics, but some of its athletes can compete as neutrals

Russia still banned from Winter Paralympics, but some of its athletes can compete as neutrals
Chelsey Gotell, chair of the International Paralympic Committee athletes’ council, takes part in a news conference Jan. 29 in Bonn. (Jörg Schüler / Getty Images)

The International Paralympic Committee announced Monday that Russia remains banned from the upcoming Winter Paralympics, but that its athletes will be given a chance to compete under a neutral flag.

The arrangement is similar to what Russia faces in the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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"A level playing field is all any athlete wants and I truly believe we will have this in Pyeongchang when the Paralympic Winter Games open on March 9," said Chelsey Gotell, chair of the IPC athletes' council.

Russia has been severely penalized in the wake of a widespread doping scandal involving athletes, coaches and officials. Investigators have found that workers in Russian labs tampered with samples to keep their athletes from testing positive.

The International Olympic Committee said last week that it has invited 169 Russian athletes as neutrals to the Winter Games in February after they proved they have been competing cleanly.

The IPC estimates that 30-35 of the country's athletes will satisfy its eligibility criteria for the Paralympics and will be allowed to enter events in biathlon, snowboard, wheelchair curling and alpine and cross-country skiing.

The Winter Paralympics are scheduled for March 8-18.

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