- The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday slammed Russia over the country’s doping controversy.
- Russia will be barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics, no Russian officials will be allowed at the games, the Russian flag will not be present, and Russia will not be awarded any medals.
- Some Russian athletes may be invited to compete neutrally under specific circumstances.
The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday handed down an unprecedented punishment to Russia over its doping controversy.
Russia’s team has been barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Government officials will be forbidden from attending, the flag will not be part of the opening ceremony, and records will show that Russia didn’t win any medals.
Some qualifying Russian athletes who have passed several drug tests will be allowed to compete at the IOC’s discretion, but they will do so in neutral uniforms.
The decision comes after a 17-month investigation by the IOC into what was deemed to be state-supported doping. It confirmed other findings that Russian officials had tampered with and even swapped urine samples to conceal evidence of its systematic doping of top athletes.
The findings led the committee to strip Russia of some of its medals from the 2014 Sochi Olympics and limit the number of Russian athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics – a punishment that was criticized as not severe enough.
The IOC’s president, Thomas Bach, said of the punishment handed down on Tuesday, “This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport.” The committee’s executive board, “after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes,” he said.
“This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA,” he added, referring to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
It’s unclear how Russia will respond to the punishment. According to The New York Times, Russian officials had threatened to boycott the Olympics if they were barred.