Russia’s Olympic Committee has been banned from next year’s #Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and ordered to pay $15m in costs after making what the International Olympic Committee called an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport”.
However Russia’s athletes were thrown a lifeline by the IOC president, Thomas Bach, who confirmed they would be able to compete in South Korea provided they could show they were not involved in a massive state-sponsored doping programme that corrupted the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Such athletes will have to compete under the Olympic flag and in a uniform bearing the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia”. If any Russian athlete wins a gold, the Olympic Anthem will be played at the medal ceremony.
Tellingly the IOC also accepted, for the first time, that the Russian state had been involved in widespread institutional doping by banning the then minister of sport, Vitaly Mutko, and his then deputy minister, Yuri Nagornykh, from any participation in all future Olympic Games.
Mutko, who is now a deputy prime minister and the head of the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, rejected suggestions that there had been systematic doping only last week. Fifa also released a statement on Tuesday insisting Mutko’s ban does not effect ongoing planning for next summer’s finals.
The IOC’s decision was announced after its 14-person executive committee spent Tuesday afternoon poring over the final report of the Schmid commission, which has been examining whether there was an “institutional conspiracy” by Russian officials within the ministry of sport to corrupt the London 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Schmid’s dramatic conclusion was that there had been a “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia” and it had come under the authority of the Russian sports ministry.
As Bach put it in a press conference: “The report clearly lays out an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. As an athlete myself, I am feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes who have suffered from this manipulation.”