Russia banned from Winter Olympics

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Olympic Rings

Moscow, December 6: Russia has been banned from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics but athletes can compete under a neutral flag, the IOC announced on Tuesday.

The decision was made after the IOC Executive Board studied the findings detailed in the report of a commission led by Samuel Schmid, the former president of Switzerland, addressing the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia.

The European nation hosted the previous edition of the Games in Sochi but will have no representatives in Pyeongchang next year, though competitors will be able to take part under the Olympic flag should they meet "strict conditions".

Russia banned from Pyeongchang 2018 Games

According to an IOC release, the Schmid Commission recommended to the Executive Board "to take the appropriate measures that should be strong enough to effectively sanction the existence of a systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia, as well as the legal responsibility of the various entities involved (i.e., including uniform, flag and anthem)".

IOC president Thomas Bach said: "This was an unprecedent attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and the sport.

"The IOC Executive Board, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes.

"I am feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who suffered from this manipulation."

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in November 2015 following accusations of state-sponsored doping.

Russian track and field athletes were denied the opportunity to represent their country at Rio 2016 by the IAAF due to the scandal. The IOC, however, opted against a blanket ban, instead deferring the decision to the bodies governing each sport.

The IOC stated its decision to impose a suspension on the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was down to lab manipulation it says "targeted the Olympic Games directly" and was based upon 17 months of extensive work by the Schmid Commission, which "gathered evidence and information and held hearings with all the main actors".

A report by professor Richard McLaren last December claimed that more than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports were involved in, or benefited from, state-sponsored doping over four years from 2011.

WADA granted Russia permission to conduct supervised drug testing in June, but has since decided that not enough progress had been made to meet compliance with its code.

The IAAF subsequently announced athletes from the nation remain banned from international athletics competition having failed to meet the criteria for reinstatement.

Source: OPTA

Story first published: Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 0:30 [IST]
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