Russia banned from winter Olympics over sports doping

Russia was formally barred from sending a team to the 2018 Winter Olympics over its state-sponsored doping in sports program.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Russia was formally barred from sending a team to the 2018 Winter Olympics, but many of its athletes will be competing in the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea.

In a compromise punishment handed down Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC for the steroid doping program that corrupted the 2014 Sochi Games yet held open an invitation for the shamed nation’s clean athletes.

Some Russian athletes will be invited to compete after being assessed by an IOC-appointed panel.

The ROC’s leader, Alexander Zhukov, is suspended from his IOC membership.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko was banned from the Olympics for life. As sports minister in 2014, he was deeply implicated in the Sochi doping plot by two IOC commissions and a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation. However, Mutko currently serves as the organizing committee chairman of soccer’s World Cup, being hosted by Russia next year.

The Russians may respond by boycotting the Pyeongchang Olympics entirely, for the first time since the Soviet Union skipped the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

That would fit with President Vladimir Putin’s warning last month that it would be a humiliation for Russia to compete in South Korea without its national symbols.

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“An Olympic boycott has never achieved anything,” IOC President Thomas Bach insisted Tuesday at a news conference to announce the sanctions.

If the Russian Olympic committee and athletes respect the rulings, the IOC said it could “partially or fully lift the suspension of the ROC from the commencement of the Closing Ceremony.”

It is unclear how many Russians could compete in South Korea. The home team at Sochi was 232-strong, though 25 have so far been disqualified for doping, losing 11 of the nation’s 33 medals.