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IOC bans Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics over state-sponsored doping

But Russian athletes who can prove they are clean will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.

Image: Matthias Schrader

RUSSIA HAVE BEEN banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics over state-sponsored doping but the International Olympic Committee said Russian competitors would be able to compete ‘under strict conditions.’

The IOC announced the decision after examining evidence of state-sponsored doping over several years that reached a high-point at the Winter Olympics hosted in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

Nations have in the past been barred from taking part in the Olympics, notably South Africa during the apartheid years, but none has ever been handed a blanket ban over doping.

Russian athletes, however, would be able to take part in the Games, the IOC said, as independent competitors ‘under the Olympic flag.’

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and the sport.

“The IOC Executive Board, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes.

“I am feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who suffered from this manipulation.”

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in November 2015 following accusations of state-sponsored doping.

Russian track and field athletes were denied the opportunity to represent their country at Rio 2016 by the IAAF due to the scandal.

The IOC, however, opted against a blanket ban, instead deferring the decision to the bodies governing each sport.

The IOC stated its decision to impose a suspension on the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was down to lab manipulation it says ‘targeted the Olympic Games directly’ and was based upon 17 months of extensive work by the Schmid Commission, which ‘gathered evidence and information and held hearings with all the main actors.’

A report by professor Richard McLaren last December claimed that more than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports were involved in, or benefited from, state-sponsored doping over four years from 2011.

WADA granted Russia permission to conduct supervised drug testing in June, but has since decided that not enough progress had been made to meet compliance with its code.

The IAAF subsequently announced athletes from the nation remain banned from international athletics competition having failed to meet the criteria for reinstatement.

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