If you’re watching the Paralympic Games, you may notice an unfamiliar abbreviation, RPC.
It stands for the Russian Paralympic Committee, and it’s a way of allowing Russian athletes to compete in the Paralympics while their country is banned from the Games because of one of the biggest doping scandals in sport history.
“All public displays of the organization’s participant name should use the acronym, not the full name “Russian Paralympic Committee,”
There are some specific rules the RPC has to follow to make clear it is not representing the country of Russia.
But first, a reminder on how Russia got here in the first place:
Inside the Russian doping ban
In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from all international sporting competitions, including the Paralympics, for four years over doping non-compliance.
The punishment was related to inconsistencies in data retrieved by WADA in January 2019 from the Moscow lab at the center of a 2016 report that uncovered a widespread and sophisticated state-sponsored sports doping network.
WADA’s compliance review committee suggested sanctions because the Russian Anti-Doping Agency failed to fully cooperate during probes into the country’s sports.
Last year, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cut Russia’s ban in half to two years following an appeal.
The ban now ends December 16, 2022. Until then, Russian athletes are not able to compete under their country’s name, flag and national anthem at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics rescheduled to this summer.
“On 17 December 2020, CAS found the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to be non-compliant in relation to its failure to procure that the authentic LIMS data and underlying analytical data of the former Moscow Laboratory was received by WADA,” said the IPC in a statement.
“This matter was discussed by the IPC Governing Board, and the Board resolved to recognise and give effect to the CAS decision and also to adopt revised post-reinstatement criteria for the RPC.”
Competing as neutral athletes
Under the ban, Russian athletes can still compete as neutral athletes — which means they do not technically represent a specific country — if they can prove they had no link to the doping scandal.
There will be 242 RPC athletes at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Instead of Russia’s flag, the team’s flag will combine three flames with its colors white. blue and red and the Paralympic symbol, Agitos.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” will be played instead of the Russian national anthem if a RPC Paralympian wins gold.
According to Russian news agency TASS, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the imposition of the CAS ban on the use of the Russian flag and anthem “was obviously politically motivated.”
“RPC athletes and team officials will wear neutral uniforms that have been approved by the IPC,” said the IPC in a statement.
“The uniforms will not feature the Russian flag or Russian Federation emblem or symbols. Instead, the RPC emblem will be used where required.
“The words “Russia” and “Russian” shall not appear. For sporting equipment that requires the use of the country’s acronym, the RPC will be used instead of RUS.”
Russia wasn’t allowed to compete at the Paralympic Games in Rio over the doping scandal, but the IPC conditionally reinstated the RPC/s membership in March 2019.
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