The International Olympic Committee has finally decided on whether Russia can compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. And it’s NOT a good one for the land of rubles. Russia’s Olympic team has been forbidden to attend, nor will its flag be displayed.
The decision stems from an alleged state-sponsored doping program that took place during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Reportedly, urine samples taken at Sochi were tampered with by intelligence agents swapping them out via a hole in the wall of a lab.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. The IOC EB, after following due process, 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 WADA,” Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee, said during a press conference.
Not all is lost for every Russian athlete. Any clean athlete who can prove they have not participated in any doping practices can compete but will have to do so in neutral uniforms. They will compete under “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)” and should they win, the Olympic anthem will be played during the medal ceremony.
It’ll be interesting to see how Putin and Russia responds to this.