In an unprecedented move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned Russia from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang over Russia’s systematic doping.
According to the Independent, Russian athletes may still compete, but may only do so under a neutral flag.
IOC head, Thomas Bach said Russia doping its athletes was “an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport.”
“The IOC EB, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes. This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA,” said Bach.
“As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who are suffering from this manipulation. Working with the IOC Athletes’ Commission, we will now look for opportunities to make up for the moments they have missed on the finish line or on the podium,” he added.
On top of Russia receiving the ban, The Independent reported the IOC has handed a lifetime ban to Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister as well:
The IOC also handed a lifetime ban to the country’s deputy prime minister, Vitaly Mutko, preventing him from having any involvement in the Olympic Games, and has ordered the Russian government to pay $15m towards a new Independent Testing Authority and reimburse the cost of their investigations.
According to The Independent, a report revealed Russia had a state-sponsored doping system in place for many years. The Russian Sports Ministry fully endorsed the doping system, and was headed by Mutko up until 2016:
And the follow-up Schmid report confirmed a “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia” with a lack of major effort to address the issue, forcing the IOC to take action.
In his findings, the IOC commission chairman Samuel Schmid found that doping was fully endorsed by the Russian sports ministry, of which Vladimir Putin’s deputy Mutko was in charge up until October 2016.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to make a statement within 24 hours, with the possibility of boycotting the Olympics, and forbidding any Russian athletes from competing, be it under a neutral flag or not.
The OIC has never banned a country from competing for subverting anti-doping rules before, though this would not be the first time the IOC has banned or disinvited a country from competing. Germany and Japan were pushed away after World War 2, and South Africa was disinvited after they had failed to denounce apartheid.