The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia 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 IOC said on Tuesday.
CNN reports that this 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.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, the All-Russia State Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) will not broadcast the Winter Olympics, which run from February 9-25, 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.”
WADA, which in November said Russia was still “non compliant” to its code, welcomed the IOC ban, as did Travis Tygart, the CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency.
“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.
“Today the IOC listened to those who matter most — and clean athletes won a significant victory.”
Looking ahead to the process of determining which Russian athletes were “clean,” WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie said. “It must be proven that these athletes have not been implicated in the institutionalized scheme and have been tested as overseen by the panel.
“We are eager to collaborate with other stakeholders in this regard.”