The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has banned Russia from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongchang following doping allegations, according to an press release from the organization. Individual Russian athletes who still wish to compete may do so under a neutral flag — after they can prove that they are “clean”.
“The IOC Executive Board today studied and discussed the findings of the commission led by the former president of Switzerland, Samuel Shmid, addressing the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia,” stated the IOC in their official press release. “This report also addresses in particular the manipulation at the anti-doping laboratory at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 which targeted the Olympic Games directly. Over 17 months of extensive work, the Schmid Commission gathered evidence and information and held hearings with all the main actors. Due process, to which every individual and every organisation is entitled, was followed. This opportunity was not available to the IOC prior to the Olympic Games Rio 2016.” The press release was also made available in Russian.
Many Russian officials, such as past-Minister of Sport, Mr. Vitaly Mutko and his then-Deputy Minister, Mr. Yuri Nagornykh, have also been banned from participating in any future Olympic Games. No official from the Russian Ministry of Sport will be allowed involvement in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Former CEO of the Organising Committee Sochi 2014, Mr. Dmitry Chernyshenko, has been banned from the Coordination Commission Beijing 2022 as well.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. “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.”
According to the provisions set by the IOC, individual Russian athletes who have met the qualifications for their sports may still compete, so long as they are considered clean to the panel’s satisfaction. This means that they must not be declared ineligible or be disqualified for any Anti-Doping Rule violation, have undergone all pre-Games targeted tests as recommended by the Pre-Games Testing Task Force, and any other tests that would ensure all anti-doping rules are being followed.
Athletes who have met the criteria set by the council will then be invited to participate in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018; however, they must compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. Their uniforms will not only reflect this name-change, but will also bear the Olympic Flag. Additionally, the Olympic Anthem will be played in lieu of the Russian National Anthem.
Bach apologized to all the athletes who competed fairly against those who had cheated. “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.”