Sir Philip Craven was recognised in London ©Getty Images

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven was awarded the Leadership in Sport prize at the BT Sport Industry Awards in London following his "hardest" year in office.

The award was handed to Sir Philip by Britain's Olympic hockey champion Kate Richardson-Walsh in recognition of his apparent "bold decision making" during 2016.

He had to deal with financial issues before the Rio 2016 Paralympics and the IPC's decision to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) following the publication of the McLaren Report.

"It's a big surprise to pick up this award, I did not expect it," Sir Philip said afterwards.

"Last year will go down as the hardest of my IPC Presidency by quite some distance.

"Awards such as this recognise the work that was undertaken not just by me, but the IPC Governing Board and the IPC Management team and how the whole Paralympic Movement came together to ensure the Rio 2016 Paralympics were a great success.

"I strongly believe the IPC and Paralympic Movement matured and came of age in 2016."

The RPC's membership of the IPC was suspended in the wake of the damning World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned McLaren Report, which alleged the presence of a state-sponsored doping scheme at a number of major events, including the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi.

Russia were banned from competing at Rio 2016 and held an alternative Paralympic Games in Moscow ©Sergei Fadeichev/TASS
Russia were banned from competing at Rio 2016 and held an alternative Paralympic Games in Moscow ©Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

It meant Russia were banned from competing at last year's Games in Rio de Janeiro which led to the country setting up an alternative version.

The IPC's position contrasted starkly with that taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who opted to defer the decision over the extent of participation of Russian athletes at Rio 2016 to the International Federations.

Further controversy followed as Rio 2016 organisers were unable to meet a July deadline to pay vital grants to at least 60 National Paralympic Committees before the Games.

Travel grants for 10 countries which depended on financial support from the IPC and National Governments to compete at Rio 2016 were also paid late.

The wheelchair fencing venue had to be moved amid cuts to a range of services for media and corporate guests.

Many of these problems related to budget cuts within the Organising Committee, although it was also claimed that money earmarked for the Paralympics had been spent on addressing Olympic problems instead.

The BT Sport Industry Awards took place at Battersea Evolution in London.