Russia Is Banned From 2018 Olympics; Athletes Told To Compete Under Olympic Flag : The Two-Way : NPR
The International Olympic Committee has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee “with immediate effect,” essentially banning the country from the upcoming Winter Olympics over Russia’s system of state-supported cheating by athletes using performance-enhancing drugs.
Russian athletes can compete in the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the IOC said Tuesday — but the athletes will have to pass strict scrutiny, and instead of wearing their nation’s uniform, they will compete under the title “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).”
“They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag,” the IOC said. “The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.”
IOC President Thomas Bach and other members of the Olympic governing body pronounced Russia’s fate at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. You can watch it on YouTube.
Bach called Russia’s concerted attempts to break the rules “an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” citing the manipulation of the anti-doping lab at the Sochi Olympics of 2014.
“As an athlete myself, I’m feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes,” Bach said.
As it announced Russia’s punishment, the IOC also released the latest report by the disciplinary commission chaired by Samuel Schmid, a former president of Switzerland. The IOC’s executive board banned Russia based on the Schmid commission’s findings of institutionalized cheating.
While the Schmid report criticizes Russia’s minister of sport and describes “a widespread culture of doping in Russia,” it also states that it didn’t find any solid evidence “confirming the support of the knowledge of this system by the highest State authority” — seemingly a reference to President Vladimir Putin.
Of the growing number of athletes who have been stripped of their medals, Bach said the IOC is looking at how to give clean athletes who are elevated to the podium the recognition they deserve months and years after they competed.
“No official of the Russian Ministry of Sport will be accredited for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018,” Bach said. He added that the ministry’s former head, Vitaly Mutko, is barred for life from any Olympic Games.
Mutko was Russia’s minister of sport from 2008 to 2016; after he left that post, Putin appointed him deputy prime minister.
Bach also said the Russian Olympic Committee must pay a total of $15 million to pay for the IOC’s doping investigation and to contribute money to the Independent Testing Authority “to build the capacity and the integrity of the global anti-doping system.”
Reacting to the IOC’s moves Tuesday, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said, “The IOC took a strong and principled decision. There were no perfect options, but this decision will clearly make it less likely that this ever happens again. Now it is time to look ahead to Pyeongchang.”