IOC slams Russia with unprecedented punishment over doping controversy ahead of the 2018 Olympics

  • The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday slammed Russia over its doping controversy.
  • Russia will be barred from the 2018 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 Olympic team has been barred from the 2018 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 Russia didn’t win any medals.

Some Russian athletes will be allowed to attend and compete with special exceptions, but they will do so in a neutral uniform, the IOC said.

The decision comes after a 17-month investigation by the IOC into what was deemed to be state-supported doping. The investigation found that Russian officials tampered with and even swapped urine samples, corrupting the testing.

The findings led the committee to strip Russia of some of its medals from the 2014 Sochi Olympics and limit some Russian athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics – a punishment that was criticised 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.” He said that the committee’s executive board, “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,” he added, referring to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The IOC said Russian athletes would be invited to Pyeongchang at its discretion. The committee said that would be based on qualifying for individual sports and passing several drug tests.

It’s unclear how Russia will respond to the punishment. According to The New York Times, Russian officials had threatened a boycott if they were barred from the Olympics.

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