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The Russian Olympic Committee has been banned from sending a team to the 2018 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has announced.
Some Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at Pyeongchang 2018 in certain circumstances under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia” and will compete in uniform bearing that name, the IOC said.
The decision was reached after the IOC’s 14-strong executive board received a recommendation from a disciplinary commission set up to investigate claims Russia conducted a state-sponsored doping programme that culminated at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
The IOC also decided to suspend Alexander Zhukov as an IOC member given that his membership is linked to his position as president of Russia’s Olympic Committee.
No accreditations to the Games would be given to the Russian ministry of sport, the IOC also announced and gave Vitaly Mutko, former Sports Minister and now Deputy Prime Minister, a life ban from the Olympics. Mr Mutko is also currently leading preparations for the 2018 soccer World Cup, which is set to be staged in Russia next summer.
In response, Russian state television said on it would not broadcast the Games in the absence of Russia’s national team.
The IOC’s decision comes 18 months after it had refused an outright ban of Russian athletes at the 2016 Rio 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 per cent 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.
IOC president Thomas Bach said: “This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport.
“The IOC EB (executive board), after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes.
“This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA.”
Mr Zhukov said that Russian athletes will appeal the International Olympic Committee’s ruling.