Russia Banned From 2018 Winter Olympics

REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

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Grace Carr Reporter
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The International Olympic Committee has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and banned Russia’s Olympic team from competing at the 2018 winter games over ongoing investigations into Russian doping.

“This 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,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement Tuesday. “As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who are suffering from this manipulation,” he added.

The doping investigations have found that the Russian system had not been adequately reformed and the country had even been encouraging and subsidizing a nation-wide doping system. Among other incidences, the IOC discovered that the Russian sports ministry had assembled a team that messed with over 100 urine samples of its top athletes at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Investigators also found countless Russian athletes were still taking illegal substances to unfairly push their performance levels above other olympic competitors.

The ban suspends the ROC immediately, prohibits any Russian officials from attending the 2018 Games, bars Russia’s flag from flying at the Games, and indicates that Russia’s national anthem will not play at the ceremony.

Some Russian athletes might receive permission to compete in the games, and they will do so as an  “Olympic Athlete From Russia” (OAR). Any medals garnered by Russian athletes given permission to compete will not count toward Russia’s medal count.

The IOC president said he was less disturbed by Russia’s extensive cheating — which has been common knowledge for some time — but by the fact that Russian Olympic officials had managed to infiltrate the Olympic lab responsible for drug testing, according to the New York Times.

“Everyone is talking about how to punish Russia, but no one is talking about how to help Russia,” Russia’s former sports minister, Vitaly Smirnov, told the NYT. “Of course we want our athletes there, and we want the Russian flag and anthem.”

“The world knows that hundreds of Olympic dreams have been stolen by the doping system in the country where I was born,” Vitaly Stepanov, a former Russian antidoping agency employee wrote in an affidavit submitted to the International Olympic Committee. “The evidence is clear, that the doping system in Russia has not yet been truly reformed,” he continued. Stepanov and his olympic runner wife were the first to publicly speak out about Russia’s doping scheme and had to move to a secret location after threats on their life.

It is not yet clear what the future for Russian athletes looks like, given that the ban falls shortly before Russia is set to hold the 2018 World Cup.

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