Lausanne, December 6 : Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee over its state-orchestrated doping programme, but clean Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under an Olympic flag.
The sanction was the toughest ever levelled by the IOC for drug cheating and was delivered just 65 days ahead of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In announcing the decision, IOC president Thomas Bach accused Russia of “perpetrating an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport”.
An explosive report by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and two subsequent IOC investigations have confirmed that Russian athletes took part in an elaborate drug cheating programme which peaked during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Mounting evidence has indicated that the scheme involved senior government officials, including from the sports ministry, with help from secret state agents.
The IOC also banned Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko—who was sports minister during the Sochi Games—for life.
Mutko is currently the head of the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup, which Russia is hosting.
Attention will quickly turn to see if football’s world governing body FIFA allows the scandal-tainted ally of President Vladimir Putin to retain his senior World Cup role.
In a statement, FIFA said it had “taken note” of the IOC decision but it had “no impact on the preparations” for Russia 2018.
After reviewing the case against Russia at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC also suspended the country’s Olympic Committee (ROC) and its chief Alexander Zhukov.