Russia Banned from 2018 Olympics, Clean Athletes May Compete Under Neutral Flag

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2017

A man enters the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) building in Moscow on December 05, 2017.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) meets from Tuesday, December 5, 2017 to decide whether to bar Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics for doping violations, in one of the weightiest decisions ever faced by the Olympic movement. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV        (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee has banned the Russian Olympic Committee from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, opting to allow clean athletes to participate under the Olympic flag. 

The IOC announced the decision on Tuesday:

Per the IOC's official website, the decision was made after a lengthy investigation into systematic doping under the ROC.

The findings of the investigation were published in the Schmid Report, which confirmed "the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia."

The ROC has been suspended "with immediate effect," and there will be no accreditation for any members of the Russian Ministry of Sport. Dmitry Chernyshenko, a member of the Coordination Commission Beijing 2022, and IOC member Alexander Zhukov have been removed from their posts.

A supporter stands with a Russian flag in front of the logo of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the headquarters on December 5, 2017 in Pully near Lausanne.
The International Olympic Committee meets to decide whether to bar Russia from the 201
FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty Images

The IOC reserved the right to bring further measures and will look into lifting the suspension "from the commencement of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018."

Russian athletes who wish to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics will have to be invited by a panel and will compete under the Olympic flag.

IOC President Thomas Bach addressed the decision: 

"This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. The IOC EB, 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.

"As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who are suffering from this manipulation. Working with the IOC Athletes’ Commission, we will now look for opportunities to make up for the moments they have missed on the finish line or on the podium."

According to Rebecca R. Ruiz and Tariq Panja of the New York Times, the punishment is unprecedented, and some Russian officials have called for a complete boycott of the event.