Russian Olympic Committee Suspended; Athletes Can Still Compete at Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has come down on Russia as punishment for the country’s systematic doping scandal. The Russian Olympic Committee has been suspended, and sanctions have been imposed that will apply during the 2018 Winter Olympics, to be held in Feburary in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Some Russian athletes may be allowed to compete, but the Russian flag and anthem will be barred from the Games. Instead, Russian qualifiers for the Olympics will compete under the Olympic flag as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia” (OAR).

Athletes must be individually approved to compete, and that approval will only come if they are considered “clean.” No Russian leadership or support staff from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will be allowed at the Games.

In its announcement, the IOC defended its decision to not suspend Russia from the 2016 Olympics in Rio, citing a lack of time to follow “due process” — even if the World Anti-Doping Agency recommended banning Russia from Rio, and the International Paralympic Committee banned Russia from that year’s Paralympics.

The ROC will have to reimburse the IOC for the cost of its investigation, and penalties may be lifted if the country’s officials cooperate with the IOC’s decisions. However, the ROC suspension will stand until at least the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

In addition, several top officials within the Russian Olympic Committee have been sanctioned, with the IOC reserving the right to announce more punishments in the future.

Of note, the IOC imposed a lifetime Olympic ban on Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is the lead organizer for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. FIFA has yet to comment at all on any potential punishment for Mutko on its end.

In its announcement, the IOC defended its decision to not suspend Russia from the 2016 Olympics in Rio, citing a lack of time to follow “due process.”

Read the full release from the IOC below:

The IOC Executive Board today studied and discussed the findings of the commision led by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid, addressing the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia. This report also addresses in particular the manipulation of the anti-doping laboratory at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 which targeted the Olympic Games directly. Over 17 months of extensive work, the Schmid Comission gathered evidence and information and held hearings with all the main actors. Due process, to which every individual and every organisation is entitled to, was followed. This opportunity was not available to the IOC prior to the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

The conclusions of the Schmid Report, on both factual and legal aspects, confirmed “the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia, through the Disappearing Positive Methodology and during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, as well as the various levels of administrative, legal and contractual responsibility, resulting from the failure to respect the respective obligations of the various entities involved”.

As a consequence, the Schmid Commission recommended to the IOC EB:

  • “to take the appropriate measures that should be strong enough to effectively sanction the existence of a systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia, as well as the legal responsibility of the various entities involved (i.e., including uniform, flag and anthem);
  • while protecting the rights of the individual Russian clean athletes; and
  • to take into consideration the multiple costs incurred by the two IOC DCs, in particular those linked to the investigations, the various expertise and the re-analysis of the samples of the Olympic Games.”

After discussing and approving the Schmid Report, the IOC EB took the following decision:

  • To suspend the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) with immediate effect.
  • To invite individual Russian athletes under strict conditions (see below) to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. These invited athletes will participate, be it in individual or team competitions, under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.
  • Not to accredit any official from the Russian Ministry of Sport for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
  • To exclude the then Minister of Sport, Mr. Vitaly Mutko, and his then Deputy Minister, Mr. Yuri Nagornykh, from any participation in all future Olympic Games.
  • To withdraw Mr. Dmitry Chernyshenko, the former CEO of the Organising Committee Sochi 2014, from the Coordination Commission Beijing 2022.
  • To suspend ROC President Alexander Zhukov as an IOC Member, given that his membership is linked to his position as ROC President.
  • The IOC reserves the right to take measures against and sanction other individuals implicated in the system.
  • The ROC to reimburse the costs incurred by the IOC on the investigations and to contribute to the establishment of the Independent Testing Authority (ITA) for the total sum of USD 15 million, to build the capacity and integrity of the global anti-doping system.
  • The IOC may partially or fully lift the suspension of the ROC from the commencement of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 provided these decisions are fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by the invited athletes and officials.
  • The IOC will issue operational guidelines for the implementation of these decisions.

How the athletes will be chosen:

To invite individual Russian athletes to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 according to the following guidelines:

  • The invitation list will be determined, at its absolute discretion, by a panel chaired by Valerie Fourneyron, Chair of the ITA. The panel will include members of the Pre-Games Testing Task Force: one appointed by WADA, one by the DFSU and one by the IOC, Dr Richard Budgett.
  • This panel will be guided in its decisions by the following principles:
      1. It can only consider athletes who have qualified according to the qualification standards of their respective sport.
      2. Athletes must be considered clean to the satisfaction of this panel:
        • Athletes must not have been disqualified or declared ineligible for any Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
        • Athletes must have undergone all the pre-Games targeted tests recommended by the Pre-Games Testing Task Force.
        • Athletes must have undergone any other testing requirements specified by the panel to ensure a level playing field.

    The IOC, at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the athletes to be invited from the list.

    1. These invited athletes will participate, be it in individual or team competitions, in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.
    2. These invited athletes will enjoy the same technical and logistical support as any other Olympic athlete.
    3. The panel, at its absolute discretion, will determine an invitation list for support staff and officials.
    4. This panel will be guided in its decisions by the following principles:
      • No member of the leadership of the Russian Olympic Team at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 can be included on the invitation list.
      • No coach or medical doctor whose athlete has been found to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation can be included on the invitation list. All coaches and medical doctors included on the invitation list must sign a declaration to this effect.
      • Any other requirement considered necessary to protect the integrity of the Olympic Games.
    5. The IOC, at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the support staff and officials to be invited from the list.

IOC President Thomas Bach said: “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.”

He continued: “As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who are suffering from this manipulation. 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.”

2 Comments

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Lane Four

    Big deal. So the “country” is banned but the athletes are not? If you could only see the look of confusion on my face.

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Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is the host of Swimming World TV and a staff writer for Swimming World. A contributor to the magazine and website since 2009, he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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