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Russia Has Been Banned from the Winter Olympics

Skiing lady on modified piste
Ilda masa

When the 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony takes place in Pyeongchang, South Korea on February 9, 2018, don’t expect to see any Russian flags or hear the Russian national anthem.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland announced Tuesday that it has barred the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) from any participation in the Pyeongchang games following an investigation of what the IOC called “the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia“.

According to the New York Times, a 17-month investigation determined that Russian Olympic officials, under state orders, tampered with over 100 urine samples at the 2014 Sochi games in order to conceal the use of steroids by over two dozen top Russian athletes. As a result, several Russian athletes’ medals have been rescinded and their Sochi standings disqualified.

No Russian athlete who competed at Sochi will be allowed to compete at Pyeongchang, but individual Russian athletes who’ve meet strict IOC criteria are invited to participate.

Russians who compete in the 2018 games will participate under the name “Olympic Athlete From Russia” and be required to wear a neutral uniform. If they receive a medal, the Russian national anthem will not play at the award ceremony, nor will the Russian flag be displayed. The athlete will be awarded the medal under a neutral Olympic flag, and their medal will not be officially recorded as a Russian achievement.

According to CBS News, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russian athletes participating in the games without national symbols would be a humiliation. In light of Tuesday’s announcement, state-owned Russian broadcaster VGTRK said it will not air the games without ROC participation.

Some news agencies have speculated that Russia may boycott the games, but there had been no official response as of the time of this article’s publication.

On November 9, 2017, the New York Times reported that Putin believed the United States placed pressure on the International Olympics Committee to penalize four Russian cross country skiers disqualified at the Sochi games for doping. Putin argued that Olympics sponsors and state officials in the United States were trying to hurt Russia’s image in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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