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Doping in sport IOC bans Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics

A Russian flag at the Sochi Olympics in 2014

(Keystone)

Russia has been banned from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after evidence emerged of widespread doping. However, some of its athletes will be allowed to compete in South Korea under the tag of “Olympic Athlete of Russia”, says the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

“This is an impressive signal in favour of clean sport,” said Corinne Schmidhauser, president of Antidoping Switzerlandexternal link, on Tuesday. 

The Lausanne-based IOCexternal link also decided to suspend Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Alexander Zhukov as an IOC member, given that his membership was linked to his position as chief of the ROC who have been suspended from the Games. 

In addition, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko was banned from any future participation at the Olympic Games. 

The IOC told a news conference that the Schmid report confirmed “the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia”. 

Samuel Schmid, author of the report, told journalists: “The results are not based only on [whistleblower] Grigoory Rodchenkov’s testimony. There is scientific evidence, witness statements documents and correspondence. The facts are that in Russia there was systemic manipulation of doping and the anti-doping system ... that also took place at Sochi 2014 [Winter Olympics]." 

International protests 

The IOC’s decision comes 18 months after it had refused an outright ban of Russian athletes at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and told international sports federations to decide individually on the participation of Russians in Brazil. 

While all the track and field athletes bar one and the entire weightlifting team were banned from Rio, around 70% of Russia’s original 387-strong squad ended up taking part at those Games. 

Tuesday’s decision, however, looks to have taken into account growing vocal protests from other countries, major national anti-doping agencies and individual athletes who felt they had been robbed by their Russian opponents for years and had demanded a full suspension of Russia. 

The decision comes seven months before Russia hosts the football World Cup.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts

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