IOC bans Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics – CBC Sports

 In U.S.
The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, following a vote on Tuesday.

However, it allows for individual Russian athletes “under strict conditions” to compete as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia [OAR]” without their national flag or anthem, according to a release from the IOC.

Russia could refuse the offer to compete as neutrals and boycott the Games, which are scheduled for Feb. 9-25. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said it would be humiliating for Russia to compete without national symbols.

IOC bans Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics2:55

Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who investigated state-sponsored doping in Russia on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told CBC News there’s a “high probability” that Russia would boycott these Games and prohibit any of its athletes from competing.

“We’ve never seen this kind of extensive sanctioning of a country and the officials within a country, McLaren said. “I congratulate the IOC in its decision. It confirms my findings in the investigation that I conducted for WADA.”

The IOC suspended the Russian Olympic committee and IOC member Alexander Zhukov, and also banned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko from the Olympics for life. Mutko was the sports minister in 2014 and is the head of the organizing committee of soccer’s next World Cup.

The IOC also imposed a fine of $15 million US on the Russian Olympic committee to pay for investigations into the case and toward future anti-doping work.

COC ‘encouraged’ by ruling

Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith was pleased with the decision to ban Russia. 

“We are encouraged and hopeful that the sanctions announced today by the International Olympic Committee [IOC] will bring forward positive change for clean and ethical sport,” Smith said in a statement.

Chris Overholt, the CEO and secretary general of the COC, added that “the IOC has done essential work on this issue today. The Canadian Olympic Committee will continue its efforts in collaborating with Canadian and world leaders for clean sport.” 

After the decision was announced, Zhukov said Russia’s athletes need time to consider whether they will take part in the Games. He added that they plan to discuss it Russian sports officials and athletes at a forthcoming meeting before a final decision on participation, but didn’t give a date.

Zhukov painted the ruling as a compromise, saying “there’s positive and negative sides,” and praising the IOC’s decision to use the term “Olympic Athlete from Russia” for Russian competitors under a neutral flag.

Previously, suspended countries have used terms such as “Independent Olympic Athlete,” which was used last year for Kuwaiti competitors at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Zhukov said “they’ll be called Russian athletes and not some kind of neutrals … that’s very important.”

‘Refusing means giving in’

Former NHL player Ilya Kovalchuk said Russia must go to the Olympics despite not being able to use its national flag at the Pyeongchang Games. Kovalchuk tells Russian news agencies that a boycott would not work. He said, “refusing means giving in” to what he terms political pressure.

“Patriotism and love for your country, it’s in your heart,” he said. “For that you don’t have to shout or even wear the flag on your chest. And if, I hope to God, we manage to compete well, then we’ll definitely sing the anthem.” 

Kovalchuk was named to Russia’s pre-Olympic hockey team on Tuesday. 

Two-time reigning world champion figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva, who also appeared in front of the IOC board, wouldn’t say if she’ll compete as a neutral.

“It will be discussed more and it’s very early to ask questions like that,” she said.

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