DBS President Friedhelm Julius Beucher has strongly criticised the IPC's decision ©Getty Images

Russian athletes should be banned entirely from March's Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang and the decision to allow them to compete as neutrals is "incomprehensible", the head of the German Paralympic Committee (DBS) has claimed.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced here today that a Russian team would be banned from the Games but competitors from the nation who meet a series of "strict conditions" will participate as Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPA).

It is expected the neutral squad, who will march under the IPC flag at the Opening Ceremony on March 9, will feature around 30 to 35 athletes.

They will compete in five sports - Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, snowboard and wheelchair curling - providing they meet the IPC guidelines.

DBS President Friedhelm Julius Beucher has strongly criticised the move, labelling it a "slap in the face to clean athletes and tamper-free sports structures".

Beucher claimed the IPC had been influenced by external pressure to create a way in which Russian athletes can compete.

"The decision of the IPC is in our view incomprehensible," said Beucher in a joint statement with DBS vice-president Karl Quade. 

"It is a pity that the IPC has moved away from its consistent anti-doping policy. 

"All previous statements made before the new election of the IPC Board in Abu Dhabi, allow a start of athletes from Russia only if the requirements of the Governing Board based on the McLaren Report are met. 

"This is not completely done in our opinion. 

"Unfortunately, the IPC has now bowed to some pressure. 

"A start of athletes from Russia after the fall of Sochi is, in our view, a slap in the face of clean athletes and tamper-free sports structures."

IPC President Andrew Parsons said he disagreed with the criticism from German officials ©Getty Images
IPC President Andrew Parsons said he disagreed with the criticism from German officials ©Getty Images

In response to the criticism from the DBS, IPC President Andrew Parsons, who revealed he had spoken to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) counterpart Sir Craig Reedie to inform them of the decision of the Governing Board, said he disagreed with Beuchler's view.

"We are a democratic organisation and anyone can express his or her opinion," Parsons said.

"But this Board thinks allowing a neutral team is a necessary and important measure.

"We are not lifting the suspension, there will be no Russian flag, uniform or emblem.

"We believe that with the criteria we have, and the fact that the landscape has changed when it comes to anti-doping in Russia, we can confidently say the NPA team will be as clean as any other athlete.

"I understand his concerns but I have a different opinion and the Board has a different opinion."

Russian State Duma Committee official Dmitry Svishchyov said the verdict from the IPC could be considered a "victory".

He told Russian state news agency TASS, however, that they were still expecting some "unpleasant" surprises from the IPC.

"If we take into account that our Paralympians could have been banned from the event, this is a victory," he said. 

"On the other hand, this attitude to the people, who prove their right to take part in the Paralympic Games by their courage and will, is blasphemy and madness."

Other National Paralympic Committees, including those in Britain and Canada, have supported the IPC's decision to clear clean Russian athletes to compete as neutrals and maintain the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC).

The RPC remains suspended as two of the criteria laid out by the IPC - an acceptance of the findings in the McLaren Report and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency regaining compliance with WADA - have still not been met.

The IPC claim they made the decision, taken following a two-day meeting of their Governing Board, to recognise the progress made in Russia since they were banned from Paralympic competition prior to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"We believe that this decision upholds the values of clean sport and fair play within our movement," a statement from the Canadian Paralympic Committee read.

In a statement, the Pyeongchang 2018 Organising Committee also backed the stance taken by the IPC, which differs slightly to that of the IOC.

A total of 169 athletes are set to compete as part of a neutral "Olympic Athletes from Russia" team at the Winter Olympics.

The IOC has said Russian athletes could march under their own flag at the Closing Ceremony if they adhere to the criteria required for the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee to be lifted.

Pyeongchang 2018 have welcomed the respective stances of the IOC and the IPC regarding Russian participation ©Getty Images
Pyeongchang 2018 have welcomed the respective stances of the IOC and the IPC regarding Russian participation ©Getty Images

"We accept and respect the decision of the IPC regarding the ruling that Russian athletes may compete under a neutral flag," Pyeongchang 2018 said.

"We will welcome all athletes that are eligible to compete and meet the criteria set out by the IPC.

"The IPC and IOC have both now made their decision on Russian participation as neutrals at Pyeongchang 2018. 

"Our taskforce will work with the neutral delegates to ensure that the competing athletes at both Games receive the same support as all other athletes to ensure they have the best Games experience possible.

"Pyeongchang is committed to delivering a Winter Games that is clean, fair and open to all eligible athletes.

"The announcements by both the IOC and IPC heralds a new age for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and sport in the wider context. 

"Pyeongchang 2018 will symbolise the start of clean sport and fair competition for all moving forward. 

"We are very proud to be part of the change.

"We are working closely with WADA, along with other relevant organisations and authorities, to ensure that all necessary steps are taken around anti-doping and fair play."