IOC Suspends Russian Olympic Committee, Allow “Clean” Neutrals At Pyeongchang Games

by Samuel Abasi Posted on December 5th, 2017

The International Olympic Committee, IOC, ruled – on Tuesday – to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee immediately but will allow athletes from the country to compete as neutrals at Pyeongchang Winter Games.

The IOC ruled that a special commission will select “clean” Russian athletes who will be able to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s Pyeongchang.

Russian athletes will not take part in opening ceremony, selected “clean” Russian athletes will participate without their national flag or anthem. only those “invited” by the IOC “at its absolute discretion” will participate. A special panel will rule on the eligibility of Russian athletes, who must have a clean doping record, and may be required to undergo additional testing.

To compensate the money the IOC and WADA have spent investigating alleged Russian wrongdoing, the Russian Olympic Committee, ROC, will be obliged to pay $15 million “to build the capacity and integrity of the global anti-doping system.”

IOC decision comes following panel hearing on results of investigations involving Russia being accused of doping violation.

The IOC made the ruling after a yearlong investigation into systematic, state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes.

“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. The IOC [executive board], after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by [the World Anti-Doping Agency.”

The ban does offer a pathway for individual, clean Russian athletes to still participate in the upcoming Games in Pyeongchang, which start Feb. 9.

The qualifying athletes will compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia”, (OAR) and compete under the Olympic flag. Should any of those athletes win a gold medal, the Olympic anthem will play instead of the Russian anthem.

Alexandr Zhukov has temporarily lost his seat as an IOC member as he is President of the ROC, which has itself been suspended from next year’s Games in South Korea. Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s sports minister during Sochi 2014, and his then deputy Yuri Nagornykh, have been given lifetime bans from all future Games. No Russian sports ministry officials will be accredited at PyeongChang. Coaches and support staff will be vetted by a panel, and must sign a declaration proclaiming their non-involvement in doping.

In a step the IOC may hope provides a narrative of redemption and closure, the Russian team could have its flag and name restored from the closing ceremony onwards, provided the other sanctions and conditions “are fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by the invited athletes and officials.”

The Pyeongchang games in South Korea, start in two months and runs through Feb. 25.

Following the publication of the 2016 McLaren’s report on doping violations in Russia, the IOC established two disciplinary commissions to decide on appropriate sanctions.

The first commission, led by Denis Oswald, was tasked with re-verifying doping probes of Russian athletes from 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. The other one, headed by former President of Switzerland Samuel Schmid, focused on allegations of a state-sponsored doping system in Russia.

The Russian national team lost first place in the medal count at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games following the IOC’s decision to strip Russia of another two gold medals.

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