The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has today confirmed that the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) will remain suspended until at least the next meeting of the IPC Taskforce responsible for monitoring the country's progress in meeting reinstatement criteria, scheduled for November.
The global governing body ruled that seven of the reinstatement criteria have still not been fulfilled.
The IPC, however, has put in place a limited interim measure for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events in four sports - Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard - for next year's Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, subject to meeting certain published conditions.
This limited interim measure is intended to preserve the ability of the RPC to enter its qualified athletes into Pyeongchang 2018 should it have its suspension lifted in time.
The IPC also hopes this decision will further encourage the RPC and the Russian authorities to meet the remaining reinstatement criteria as soon as possible.
Under the sport rules for Para-ice hockey, Russia has already missed the opportunity to qualify for Pyeongchang 2018.
In an update to the IPC Governing Board on Sunday (September 3), the IPC Taskforce highlighted that seven key measures still need to be met before it is able to recommend the reinstatement of the RPC.
Among them is the finalisation of the RPC Anti-Doping Rules, to be approved by the Taskforce, and the approval of the governing body's constitution by the IPC membership department.
Completion of all budget-related aspects of the reinstatement criteria and the provision and confirmation of certain additional information by the RPC regarding personnel and governance, as specified by the Taskforce, are also measures that still need to be met.
The others are the provision of further information relating to the composition of the RPC Board, to be defined by the Taskforce, the full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the provision of an official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings in the McLaren Report.
With the WADA Foundation Board due to consider the position of RUSADA in Seoul on November 16, and within that the Russian authorities official response to the findings made by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, the IPC Taskforce intends to review the situation and update the IPC Governing Board shortly thereafter.
A further decision is then due to be taken on the RPC’s suspension status and the limited interim measure of allowing Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events for Pyeongchang 2018.
IPC President Sir Philip Craven had warned in May that it would be "very unlikely" for Russia to compete at Pyeongchang 2018 should the suspension not be lifted here.
But he stated today that "both the IPC Governing Board and IPC Taskforce are impressed and encouraged at the significant progress the RPC has made in meeting the reinstatement criteria" since then.
"Of the seven key criteria that remain, we believe five of them can be fulfilled in the near future barring any unexpected developments," Sir Philip said.
"The remaining two - the reinstatement of RUSADA and the acknowledgment and acceptance of the McLaren Report - are interlinked and we will eagerly await WADA’s decision in November.
"We do not want to have a situation where Russian athletes have insufficient events left to qualify for Pyeongchang 2018 should the RPC meet the reinstatement criteria.
"Therefore we have put in place a limited interim measure that will address this until at least the next IPC Taskforce update in November.
"With immediate effect, Russian athletes can compete as neutrals in Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic qualification events providing they meet a number of key conditions that we have published.
"Then, if the RPC has its suspension lifted in time by meeting all the reinstatement criteria, qualified athletes will be allowed to compete at the Games.
"In my view there can be no greater incentive than this for the RPC to meet the remaining seven reinstatement criteria."
Asked whether neutral Russian athletes that qualify for Pyeongchang 2018 would still be able to compete if the RPC suspension remains in place come the time of the Games, due to take place from March 9 to 18, Sir Philip said that would be a decision for the newly-elected Governing Board.
The Board is due to be elected here on Friday (September 8) during the IPC General Assembly and Conference.
Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told Russia's official news agency TASS that today's announcement had been anticipated.
"We are currently considering this decision," he said.
"We were prepared for such scenario.
"We will soon analyse this situation jointly with the Russian Paralympic Committee and will come up with a common stance."
Any Russian athlete wishing to participate as a neutral in qualification events for Pyeongchang 2018 meet the terms of the limited interim measure and a number of participation conditions determined by the IPC.
Among the requirements of the limited interim measure is the need to be licensed, eligible and in compliance with the anti-doping testing requirements set out in the reinstatement criteria.
The latter stipulates that athletes must have undergone at least two anti-doping tests during the six months immediately preceding the relevant event.
In addition, all provisions in the respective sport/competition rules and regulations that are applicable to athletes/support personnel will apply equally to neutral athletes/support personnel.
The IPC warned that under no circumstances will officials, members or other representatives of Russian Ministries or the RPC Governing Board be permitted to attend such events in any capacity, including as support personnel and no accreditation will be granted to any such persons.
This limited interim measure will have effect only up until a further review by the IPC Taskforce and the IPC Governing Board.
Following the review, this limited interim measure may be withdrawn, maintained or revised, as the IPC Governing Board sees fit and following a recommendation of the IPC Taskforce.
"Compared to 13 months ago when the RPC was suspended, we now have evidence of a significant transformation both culturally and practically in how the RPC approaches anti-doping activities," Sir Philip added.
"We also have more confidence in the anti-doping education and testing of Para-athletes in Russia now that RUSADA is planning and coordinating testing under the supervision of international experts and the UK Anti-Doping Agency.
"This is why we will permit the RPC to enter athletes in to qualifying events for Pyeongchang 2018, pending a further update from the IPC Taskforce in November."
The IPC announced in August last year that Russia would be banned from Rio 2016 following the release of the McLaren Report commissioned by WADA
The Canadian lawyer uncovered the presence of a state-sponsored doping scheme within the Russian system.
He also revealed what he described, as the "disappearing positive methodology" - where positive samples were switched for clean ones.
The 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi were particularly believed to have been compromised by the switching of samples.
"Since the last Taskforce report to the IPC Governing Board in May, the RPC has made significant progress towards meeting the reinstatement criteria and initiating real change in culture within Russia regarding anti-doping matters," Andy Parkinson, chair of the IPC Taskforce, said.
"The Taskforce continues to be encouraged by the steps taken by the RPC, and by the constructive dialogue between the Taskforce and the RPC Coordination Committee.
"The Taskforce is particularly pleased with the recent progress made in the areas of anti-doping education, the launch of the RPC’s reporting doping hotline, and various improvements and developments relating to testing.
"However, as mentioned in both the February and May 2017 reports, the Taskforce has major concerns as to the lack of any material progress regarding the provision of an official response from the Russian authorities that adequately addresses the findings made by Professor McLaren.
"This is a requirement of the WADA roadmap for the reinstatement of RUSADA and a reinstatement criterion for the RPC."