Russian Federation banned from 2018 Winter Olympics

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and chair of IOC Inquiry Commission into alleged Russian doping at Sochi 2014 Samuel Schmid attend a press conference following an executive meeting on Russian doping

The IOC banned Russia from the 2018 Games over state-sponsored doping, but said some Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under strict conditions. The IOC is set to decide later on the level of Russia's participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as calls to ban the country over suspected state-sponsored doping grow louder.

Russian athletes who can prove their innocence of drug cheating will be permitted to compete under the designation of an "Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)", the IOC announced in a news release. Yet, if individual athletes from the country wish to compete, they must undergo testing requirements to ensure "a level playing field". The country's government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound.

The IOC Executive Board today studied and discussed the findings of the Commission led by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid, addressing the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russian Federation.

"The IOC took a strong and principled decision", the USOC said in a statement.

Evidence suggests that Russian Federation ran an orchestrated doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games.

The commission said it was able to confirm allegations that some individuals received payments to hide positive doping tests, having previously encouraged athletes to purchase doping substances.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko attends an event for the 2018 World Cup in Moscow
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko attends an event for the 2018 World Cup in Moscow

Ahead of the anti-doping agencies of 17 countries, including the United States, had demanded the International Olympic Committee impose a blanket ban, issuing a collective statement in September that it was time for the body to stop "paying lip-service" to the anti-doping fight. Some Russian officials have threatened to boycott if the International Olympic Committee delivered such a severe punishment.

The IOC made the ruling after a yearlong investigation into systematic doping by Russian athletes. "Requirements have been issued to the global federations and RUSADA (Russian anti-doping agency) for the level of testing of those athletes", he said. Instead, it gave criteria about the eligibility of athletes and left the decisions to the worldwide federations that govern each sport.

The CEO of the Sochi Olympics, Dmitry Chernyshenko, also had his place on an Olympic panel overseeing the 2022 Beijing Winter Games withdrawn by the IOC.

The commission based its findings on an independent report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren that was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and published a year ago.

The country may just boycott the games altogether, however.

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