Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Tuesday the banning of Russia from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang over the country’s systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system.

Russia’s Olympic committee has also been ordered to pay $15 million after making what the IOC described as an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport.” However, Russian athletes who can prove to be clean will be allowed to participate in the games under a neutral flag.

The IOC also decided to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov as an IOC member. And the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, sports minister at the time of the Sochi Games was also barred from any future participation in the Olympics.

“We have never seen such manipulation and cheating,” IOC disciplinary commission chairman Samuel Schmid told reporters. This is the most wide-ranging punishment ever carried out by the IOC on a participating nation.

These decisions follow an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Games hosted by Russia in Sochi. The decisions have been widely criticized in Russia, with some politicians urging a boycott of the Games, while others saw it as a chance for clean athletes to take part.

IOC president Thomas Bach and his board came to these decisions after reading through the findings of a 17-month investigation led by the former president of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid.

The Games are scheduled to start on the 9th of February in South Korea.