The Russian doping scandal continues. On Tuesday the International Olympic Committee announced that Russia would officially be banned from participating in next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to reports. The IOC conceded that Russian athletes who could prove they were clean would still be allowed to compete in the Games but under a neutral flag.
According to a press release, the IOC based the decision on the findings of a commission, led by former Swiss president Samuel Schmid, that studied the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia. The report was a follow-up to the McLaren Report, which initially brought the Russian doping scandal to light in July of 2016. That report resulted in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) calling for Russia to be banned from the summer Games in Rio. But, the IOC ruled against a blanket ban but instead leaving the final call to individual sporting federations.
The Schmid Commission, claims the IOC completed, “Over 17 months of extensive work… [gathering] evidence and information and [holding] hearings with all the main actors.” Due process, according to the IOC, was followed, which was a luxury not available to the IOC in the ruling prior to the Rio Games.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a statement. “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.”
The IOC has ruled that all Russian athletes found to be clean will be allowed to compete with the designation OAR – Olympic Athlete from Russia – but the Olympic Anthem will play instead of the Russian Federation’s national anthem, and all athletes from Russia will carry the Olympic flag.
“As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who are suffering from this manipulation,” continued Bach. “Working with the IOC Athletes’ Commission, we will now look for opportunities to make up for the moments they have missed on the finish line or on the podium.”