Russia has been banned from competing at next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang by the International Olympic Committee.
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has been suspended but the IOC said it will invite Russian clean athletes to compete in February under the name ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’ (OAR).
It follows an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Games hosted by Russia in Sochi.
IOC said, “This should draw a line under this damaging episode.”
The decision has been widely condemned in Russia, with some politicians urging a boycott of the Games, though other officials have welcomed the chance for ‘clean’ athletes to take part.
IOC president Thomas Bach and his board who made the announcement in Lausanne today came to the decision after reading through the findings and recommendations of a 17-month investigation headed up by the former president of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid.
This entire investigation was instigated by whistleblowing doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, who was director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory during Sochi 2014.He alleged the country ran a systematic programme of doping and claimed he had created substances to enhance athletes’ performances and switched urine samples to avoid detection.
The World Anti Doping Agency (Wada) enlisted the services of Canadian law professor and sports lawyer Dr Richard McLaren to look into the allegations.
The McLaren report concluded 1,000 athletes across 30 sports benefitted from the doping programme between 2012 and 2015.
As well as the Olympic Committee ban, the IOC has also decided to ban Russia’s deputy Prime Minister and former Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko from all future Olympic Games. He is currently the lead organiser for the 2018 World Cup, which is being staged in Russia next summer.
President of the ROC, Alexander Zhukov, said there was positive and negative news from the IOC’s decision.
He welcomed the invitation for clean athletes to compete in South Korea but does not agree with the ruling that they must compete under a neutral flag.