MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin attacked the ban on his country from the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics as immoral and inhumane on Thursday, while six Russian athletes launched a bid to compete at next month’s games as individuals.

Russia was suspended on Aug. 7 over what International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven called a “medals over morals” culture with evidence of state-sponsored doping. The ban was confirmed Tuesday when the Court of Arbitration of Sport rejected a Russian appeal.

“The decision to disqualify our Paralympians is outside the bounds of law, morality and humanity,” Putin said at an award ceremony for Olympic athletes at the Kremlin. He called the ruling against Russia “cynical” and claimed that “it even humiliates those who take such decisions.”

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the ban “collective responsibility for an unproven crime.” While Russia has accepted there were some shortcomings in its anti-doping system, it insists drug use was not systemic or supported by the government.

The Paralympics start Sept. 7. On Thursday, six Russian athletes, including three gold medalists, wrote to IPC president Craven asking for a route into the games as individuals.

“I strongly believe that real perpetrators of the dirty system must be punished and banned from sport. I do not want to lose to cheaters and I don’t want to compete with cheaters, even Russians,” says the letter, which was provided to The Associated Press by Andrei Mitkov, an agent representing the six. “However even more strongly I believe that innocent people should not suffer for actions of cheaters that tried to deceive clean athletes of the world.”

The athletes, who say they have been repeatedly tested outside Russia and found clean, asked for the IPC to provide criteria that could allow some Russians to compete if they can show they are clean. The approach is similar to the one that allowed U.S.-based Russian long jumper Darya Klishina to compete at the Rio Olympics when the Russian team was banned.