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In 2016, a report by Canadian Richard McLaren and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found that there was a “systematic and centralized cover-up” involving more than 1,000 Russian athletes in the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympics. The report alleged that these athletes, across 30 sports, were taking performance enhancing drugs and covering it up with the help of officials within the Russian Ministry of Sport. The conspiracy involved swapping dirty urine samples with clean ones and sample tampering.

Now, Russia could be facing a full-out Olympics ban. We’re only twelve weeks from the 2018 Winter Games and if they refuse to comply with the WADA, they may be out of luck. The agency put forth a 31-point plan in order for Russia to redeem themselves, and the country has refused to meet two of the conditions. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency has refused to admit to the state-sponsored doping and turn over samples of tainted blood and urine samples from their labs. Russia’s Ministry of Sport is adamantly denying the findings of the report and was not surprised when they were labeled non-compliant.

The WADA does not have the power to ban Russia from the 2018 games, but their report factors heavily in the decision made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The final decision will likely be made at the committee’s executive board meeting in two weeks. They could ban the entire country or, like in Brazil, the IOC could opt to leave the decision to each individual sport’s governing body.

There is also the possibility of allowing Russian athletes to compete but instigating harsh penalties. Some of the theories that have been floated are not allowing them to participate in the Opening Ceremonies, banning the Russian national anthem and requiring athletes to compete under a neutral flag with neutral uniforms. Russia has threatened to remove themselves from the games if the penalties are too severe or shameful.

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