The International Olympic Committee announced in a press conference Tuesday that they have made the decision to ban Russia from the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics for the country’s failure to comply with mandates specified by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). After it was revealed that Russia participated in a state-sanctioned doping scheme wherein over 1,000 of their Olympic athletes either used or were forced to use performance enhancing drugs, the WADA gave the Russian Olympic Committee a 30-step plan to redeem themselves. The ROC would not cooperate on two points, prompting the decision by the IOC yesterday.
In 2016, an investigation into Russian doping found that many prominent athletes representing the country in the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympics were using PEDs and that the government was systemically covering it up by switching blood and urine samples that tested positive. The conspiracy went throughout the entire Russian Ministry of Sport which has refused to turn over samples to WADA and still refuses to admit to wrongdoing.
International Olympic Committee suspends Russian Olympic Committee effective immediately. Individual Russian athletes can participate at 2018 Winter Games under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia” – Olympic flag on their uniform, Olympic Anthem played at any ceremony. pic.twitter.com/bleux55RgG
— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) December 5, 2017
“There has never been such a manipulation or an attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in the announcement, “The IOC 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 the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
Under this ban, Russian athletes who test clean may still participate in the games though they will not be able to compete under the Russia flag. Athletes will don the Olympic flag, wear uniforms that say “Olympic Athlete from Russia” and the Olympic anthem will play should any of them take the podium. Russia said before the decision was announced that if the conditions of participation were too humiliating, they would boycott the 2018 games.
Sitting these games out isn’t the full extent of Russia’s punishment. The country has been ordered by the IOC to pay $15 million to reimburse the cost of the lengthy investigation and set up a new Independent Testing Authority for future games. The IOC also banned two top Russian officials from the games for life. Wow, the IOC isn’t playing around.
Of course, Russia isn’t taking this ban lying down. Russian networks have said that they will not air the games in the country if Russia is not participating. President Vladimir Putin completely denies that there was any doping scheme at all and he seems to have his own super ironic theory for how we got here. It was an American conspiracy. To meddle in Russia’s 2018 presidential election. Yes, really.
“I have big suspicions that in response to our alleged interference in their elections, they want to create problems during the election of the president of Russia. Which, if it’s true, is very bad because it undermines the very meaning of the Olympic movement,” Putin said publicly last year, “I have big suspicions that it’s all being done on purpose to create an atmosphere of discontent among sports lovers, sports people by suggesting that the government was allegedly involved in the violations and is responsible for them.”
Yeah, sure, probably. At this point, the Russia investigation and the Trump presidency in general are so crazy and movie-like we wouldn’t be surprised.