Russia officially will shoot blanks at the next Winter Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday it has banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as punishment for the state-sponsored doping of its athletes. The unprecedented punishment follows a 17-month investigation into Russia’s doping programs at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The IOC suspended Russia’s Olympic committee with immediate effect and fined it $15 million. Russia’s flag won’t be displayed at the opening ceremony, nor will its anthem sound at the Games. However, some of Russia’s athletes will be eligible to compete as individuals under neutral uniforms.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “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.”
“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.”
Having finished in the medal count at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Russia improved its medal count by 10 en route to a first-place finish on home soil in 2014. A top Russian doctor claimed two years later he developed a cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs and administered them to Russia’s athletes at his government’s behest. Russia’s security services then reportedly participated in a complex and clandestine operation, in which they replaced athletes’ tainted urine samples with clean ones.
Russia hasn’t responded to the announcement of its Olympic ban, but there seems to be little it can do to gain entry to the next Olympics, which take place in February.