Russia has been banned from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has found evidence of “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system, Reuters reports.
The IOC said on Tuesday that evidence unearthed by the Schmid Commission, which looked into allegations of institutionalized doping in Russia, prompted a decision to suspend Russia from the Winter Games that run from Feb. 9-25 in South Korea.
However, in a bid to protect “innocent athletes” the door has been left open for Russians to compete as an “Olympic Athlete of Russia”, as long as they satisfy strict conditions that show they have a doping-free background.
At the previous Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia had finished at top of the medals table.
Samuel Schmid, who heads the IOC Disciplinary Commission, told a news conference in Lausanne that his report focusing on allegations of government involvement in Russian doping at the Sochi Games confirmed “the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system”.
“The facts are that in Russia there was systemic manipulation of doping and the anti-doping system… that also took place at Sochi 2014,” added Schmid.
The results were not based only on testimony by Russia’s former anti-doping chief-turned-whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, there was also scientific evidence, witness statements, documents and correspondence, he said.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “Today we gave the Russian delegation the opportunity to express themselves. In this meeting this afternoon the president of ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) has apologized.
“As a former athlete I am feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes who are suffering from this manipulation… but because we are allowing clean athletes to participate they can set about building a bridge for the future (rather) than erecting a new wall between Russia and the Olympic movement.”
The IOC decided to suspend Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov as an IOC member, while Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, sports minister at the time of the Sochi Games, was also banned from any future participation at the Olympics.
The IOC’s decisions, not surprisingly, met with fierce criticism from within Russia.
Alexei Kravtsov, president of the Russian Skating Union, said: “The decision is offensive, insulting and completely unjustified.
“I consider that this decision will deal a great blow to the whole Olympic movement.”
Alexei Kurashov, president of the Russian freestyle federation, added: “The Olympic movement has discredited itself and there will be fundamental consequences to this.”
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