With only 64 days before the 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended Russia from competing.
This decision stems from a 16-month investigation into Russia’s alleged doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Former president of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid, led the investigation and determined there was a “systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia.” The New York Times reports that a Russian team meddled with more than 100 urine samples to hide the proof that top athletes had used steroids during the 2014 games in Sochi.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic games and sport, said IOC President Thomas Bach in the IOC’s official statement. “The IOC EB, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes.”
Russian athletes who want to participate in the 2018 Games must follow multiple guidelines, according to Sports Illustrated. They must meet qualifying standards in their sport, have no violations regarding doping and undergo any other required testing to be considered by the IOC. If the athlete is invited, they will then compete under the Olympic flag with a neutral uniform, and will be referred to as “an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR”, said the Washington Post. Sports Illustrated also reports that 11 medals from Sochi were stripped and the medals will possibly be redistributed during the 2018 Olympics.
Bach also stated that the Russian Olympic Committee will reimburse the costs from the investigation, plus $15 million to contribute to the IOC’s anti-doping system, according to the IOC statement.
The investigation was still ongoing during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, but at least 100 Russian athletes were banned from competing and only a limited number of athletes participated, according to Sports Illustrated. More than 1,000 Russian athletes from 30 sports have allegedly been involved in doping and steroid use since 2011, the Washington Post reports.
It is currently unclear on how Russia will respond to these punishments.