It’s been a busy start to life as the International Paralympic Committee president for Andrew Parsons.
In his second week in office an earthquake in Mexico meant the rescheduling of two World Championships. Following that the Brazilian’s focus switched to ensuring that the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics was clean. He attempted to do this with several bold steps.
Firstly, it was decided 600 tests on athletes would be carried out at the Games, meaning there will be more doping tests than actual participants. The samples will be taken both in and out of competition in collaboration with WADA, the national anti-doping organisations, and the National Paralympic Committee.
Another part of that mission meant maintaining Russia’s IPC ban until they meet the full criteria to compete again. The two points the Russian Paralympic Committee has so far failed to comply with are the acknowledgement of the McLaren Report’s findings and the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.
However Parsons is optimistic that the situation will be resolved soon.
“As soon as they reach that (the criteria), we can then convene the independent task force so that the board can make a decision,” Parsons told Olympic Channel. “The steps are clear, so we are working with the relevant authorities to have it solved as soon as possible.”
— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) February 23, 2018
But it isn’t all about the present and the future when it comes to safeguarding Paralympic sport.
The IPC re-tested samples from Vancouver 2010 with more modern technology, and the president published the results with no adverse findings. Parsons will ensure the same is done again for the Sochi and PyeongChang Paralympics.
“We are doing a lot to have a clear understanding of what happened in Sochi,” he said. “It’s sad but if we have to disqualify retroactively athletes we will do that.”
With political tensions in the Korean peninsula, Parsons had to be prepared to adapt to any eventuality.
It was all the more rewarding therefore to see two athletes arrive in PyeongChang yesterday as part of the first North Korean Winter Paralympic delegation ever.
The decision was made following successful talks between the nations and the participants’ strong showings in international events (despite qualifying through the bipartite agreement).
“We will have a strong North Korean delegation to provide the best services for the athletes and that’s what is important,” he said. “We understand the message of peace with their presence here.”
Another positive message being emitted from the IPC was that of their International Women’s Day Award.
The accolade is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to increasing female participation and has been a strong leader for women’s sport.
“We have a target of 50-50 and on a special day like today it’s good to see that we have improved – the numbers for PyeongChang are better than the numbers for Sochi,” Parsons said.
The recipient of the award was Dr. Hayat Khattab, who was the first women to be named President of the Egyptian Paralympic Committee in 2015. She led efforts to form the first women’s sitting volleyball team and went on to claim a silver at the African Championships in Rwanda.
She told Paralympic.org: “This award means a lot to me being the first female that was elected as President of an Arab National Paralympic Committee, and this proves that women are capable of playing an important role in developing the Paralympic Movement.”
“It also means a lot to me also as the President of the Para Volley Africa Committee. I think that this will be a good motivation for all women in the Arab and African NPC’s to work hard.”