Russia will not compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics following a ruling by the IOC.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned Russia from competing at next year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. The decision was made following an investigation into Russia’s doping violations at Sochi 2014 and London 2012.
Russia was deemed to have engaged in “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of anti-doping systems.
“Clean athletes” will be allowed to compete if granted permission by the IOC, but their achievements will not be credited to Russia. Instead, these athletes will be represented by the Olympic flag and anthem.
Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, made the announcement at a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland on December 5.
“The IOC executive board, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for [Russia’s] systemic manipulation, while protecting clean athletes,” said Bach.
“[This is] an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic games and sport.”
The findings were outlined in a report conducted by the IOC Disciplinary Commission, led by former Swiss Council member Samuel Schmid. Evidence was provided by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and testimonies by Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former director of the Moscow Laboratory, Russia’s now defunct anti-doping agency.
Rodchenkov previously confessed to destroying 1,417 test samples during his time in charge. He and his staff engaged in a process known as the “Disappearing Positive Methodology” which involved erasing the positive test results of promising athletes – decided by Russia’s then-Deputy Minister for Sport, Vitaly Mutko.
Rodchenkov also exposed some of the cover-ups that occured at Sochi’s drug-testing site, including the use of a “mouse hole” in the floor to dispose of positive samples. The hole, concealed by a table, led to a shadow laboratory known as “Room 124” which had been converted from a storage space.
Not surprisingly, the IOC and WADA have ramped up anti-doping measures in the lead up to PyeongChang 2018. IOC medical chief Richard Budgett told reporters that up to 20,000 drug tests will have been conducted by the commencement of the games. Russian athletes, if hoping to compete, will be among those most targeted.
However, Russia is now considering an all-out boycott of PyeongChang which, if goes ahead, could see Russian athletes prevented from competing in any capacity.