Pyeongchang (December 6, 2017): Russia has been banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea over the country’s “systemic manipulation” of anti-doping rules.
However, Russian athletes who can prove that they are clean will be “invited” to compete in Pyeongchang, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.It is the most wide ranging punishment ever meted out by the IOC on a participating nation, let alone a powerhouse of the Olympic movement.
Russia’s Olympic Committee has also been ordered to pay $15 million to reimburse the IOC’s costs of investigating the doping scandal and help set up the new Independent Testing Authority (ITA).Vitaly Mutko, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, former Minister of Sport and chairman of the organizing committee for soccer’s 2018 World Cup in Russia — has been barred from attending any future Olympic Games and so has his former deputy, Yuri Nagornykh.The “clean” Russian athletes must meet strict guidelines to make it to South Korea and will compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia” (OAR). They will wear a uniform with that name on it and the Olympic anthem will be played at any medal ceremonies for Russian athletes.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.“The IOC 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.
“As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all (National Olympic Committees) 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.”Having consistently denied the allegations of a state-backed doping campaign, Russia could now decide to block the offer of exemptions and boycott the Pyeongchang Olympics altogether.
Putin has previously said it would be a humiliation to compete without any national symbols.
On the other hand All-Russia State Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) will not broadcast the Winter Olympics in the absence of the Russia team from the event.“What is left of the principles of Olympism, from the spirit of the Olympics, from the idea of the Olympic Games?!” asked two-time Olympic pole vault champion, Elena Isinbayeva, on her Instagram account.
“Without Russia it’s a lame Olympics! #norussianogames.”
But Travis Tygart, the CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency, welcomed the IOC decision.
“Over the past three years, a high stakes game of chicken has been played,” wrote Tygart, who was one of the key players in bringing down the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.“Between those willing to sacrifice the Olympic ideals by employing a state-directed doping program to cheat and win and, on the other side, athletes unwilling to stand silent while their hopes and dreams were stolen and the Olympic Games hijacked.”
The United States Olympic Committee issued a statement praising the IOC’s “strong and principled decision.”
“There were no perfect options, but this decision will clearly make it less likely that this ever happens again. Now it is time to look ahead to PyeongChang.”