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A Team GB Paralympian has alleged that members of Russia's Paralympic team have taunted their Ukrainian opponents over the invasion of their country.
It comes after the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Thursday that Russian and Belarusian athletes had been banned from the Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing.
The IPC had initially ruled that athletes from the two teams could compete the Games as neutrals but was forced to perform an embarrassing u-turn on the decision, following pressure from the international community in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Following the announcement, British Paralympian Richard Whitehead appeared on Good Morning Britain to claim that members of Russia's Paralympic team had sent shameful messages to their Ukrainian opponents.
Whitehead, who won gold in the 200m T42 classification at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympics, said: "I've heard lots of messages of indoctrination within the Russian community and messages that the Russian athletes are sending Ukraine athletes about bombing their homes.
"And I feel that to take the Russians and Belarus athletes straight out of the village and send them home is the right decision."
When asked to elaborate on those claims, Whitehead added: "Yes, that's right.
"I've seen those and they include threats of bombing their families back at home. It's terrible. It's disgusting behaviour.
"And it just shows that the Russian and Belarus athletes don't actually think there's there's a war going on at home and how that affects not just the athletes, but also the Ukrainian community.
"We need to galvanise as athletes and promote that. Look, this war needs to stop, and sport is only just a small part of what we do."
Whitehead also criticised the IPC’s initial decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals.
"I'm sorry we're having to talk in these terrifying times," he added.
"And the IPC initially should shirk their responsibility by placing the decision more towards the national governing bodies and individuals where this decision should have been made for the athletes, for the movement and as a Paralympic athlete, as disabled people.”
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
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