Russia's suspension from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is being maintained before a final decision is made on their participation at Pyeongchang 2018 in late January, it has been announced today.
The final announcement on their eligibility had been due to be announced at a press conference in London on Friday (December 22).
It is now expected at the next IPC Governing Board meeting between January 26 and 28.
Russian athletes will still be allowed to compete in the meantime as neutrals over the next month in qualification events across the four sports of Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboarding.
This aims to "preserve the ability of the RPC (Russian Paralympic Committee) to enter its qualified athletes into the Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games should it have its suspension lifted in time".
Five key criteria must still be met before the suspension can be lifted.
This concerns the "approval of the RPC’s constitution by the IPC membership department" and the "completion of all budget-related aspects of the reinstatement criteria".
Confirmation from the Russian Ministry of Sport that the required changes to the Russian legislation have been passed in order to allow for the proper enforcement of provisional and final suspensions against athlete support personnel is also required.
Crucially, the full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is also still needed along with the "provision of an official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings made by Professor McLaren".
This final point is also needed for RUSADA reinstatement with WADA.
An IPC statement today explained that a "formal request by the RPC for the removal of the reinstatement criteria relating to the reinstatement of RUSADA by WADA and the provision of a response adequately addressing the McLaren findings was also rejected by the IPC Governing Board".
“Although the IPC Governing Board continues to be impressed at the level of co-operation and progress made so far by the RPC, it is united in its decision to maintain the suspension as the reinstatement criteria have not yet been met in full," said IPC President Andrew Parsons today.
“The RPC is making headway with the IPC on three of the five remaining reinstatement criteria, however sadly, and much to our growing disappointment and frustration, there is a lack of progress regarding an official response from the Russian authorities specifically and adequately addressing the McLaren findings and evidence.
“Since last December’s second McLaren report yet more evidence has come to light to support and add weight to his findings.
"If the Russian authorities believe his findings and evidence are not credible, then suitable supporting evidence and explanations should be provided to properly rebut them.
"So far nothing has been forthcoming.
“As the deadline for athlete entries for Pyeongchang 2018 is 23 February, the IPC Governing Board’s next meeting between 26 to 28 January really is the last chance for Russia to meet the criteria in time for the Games.”